“How do I get an agent?” is the WRONG question.

The Truth about Talent and Obtaining Agent Representation. 

 

The number one question that I get from screenwriters, whether I’m teaching, doing a Q and A, a Facebook chat, whatever, is “How do I get an agent?” or some version of that. How do I get connected to the industry and how do I find a manager, what do I do with my screenplay when I’m done? How do I get it to the right person? After I finished, how do I get it to people that will assist me in obtaining a career as a professional writer of television and/or movies?

If every writer of every television show and every movie is listed on IMDB, and every one of those writers has their agent, manager, lawyer, publicist listed on there, and if you can google and find all of their email addresses, if you can find every address of every agent and manager that’s been involved in every sale, every pitch deal, every rights purchase, to every studio, if you can find every email address of everyone on the Blacklist, then what are people talking about when they ask me this question? The question which is by far the most popular and asked question asked by amateur screenwriters (people that don’t have agents and managers).

 

Why are they asking this question?

 

Maybe they didn’t know they could find the email addresses of everyone, or think they can’t email them and tell them they have a script available. Maybe they have heard of writers emailing a query and sending off a script, and then heard nothing back. Or they got a business card at a pitch fest, typed a phone number into their iPhone of an agent they met at Austin, met a producer at a party, followed up with someone after a panel, and they reached out with their script and got no response. 

But the assumption, the expectation, when they ask the number one question is their screenplay is ready. It’s really great.

Well, it’s not.

It’s not ready.

It’s not really great.

There is a high demand for great screenplays and television pilots. There is no debate on this. Ask anyone at all and they will tell you the industry seeks material. They are always, always, always, looking for good work. This has never changed and will never change. Why?

 

Writing a great script is very difficult and doing it is extremely rare.

 

And the reason no one is hearing back after making contact with the marketplace is the marketplace is not interested in your work.

The industry is a market and it behaves like any other market—-supply and demand.

If you run out of supply, and the demand is high, they look to find more of what they need. The market is setup to locate the supply. They are experts at finding the supply. 

Or can’t make what they need.

There is no maze to the marketplace for writing. None.

Brilliant scripts get offers, often from multiple buyers. 

 

Ask writers how they broke through. 

 

This person can be in Rochester, Minnesota, or southern Mississippi, or Pasadena, knowing nothing at all, where to go, who to talk to, and their story of making it will be mostly about one thing.

They will tell you a story about writing. Of working beyond where they have ever worked, sticking with a script past the despair and fatigue and boredom of each and every rewrite, a story of listening to feedback from the unlikeliest of sources.

Bottom line is when their script was great enough, the market easily found them. A reader must be able to pick up your screenplay, open to any page, and be blown away.

You want to know how to find an agent? Blow us away. Stop listening to podcasts, scanning tweets, buying another book, signing up for another class, or reading this blog.

Work harder.

Write in a way you never have. Write to save your life. Don’t waste another decade. Another morning. Don’t ask questions about what to do based on something you haven’t achieved. Your script isn’t good enough.

When everyone you know reads your script and says it’s the best they’ve read in a long time, you’re getting somewhere. But if you’re still getting comments from people about your story, lukewarm reactions, fuzzy feedback, then why would you ask how do I get paid for it?

 

The shortest path to success is taking a long time to write your script.

 

Read that again.

Because when you will have gotten there finally, you will have outlasted everyone else, you will have read and listened and witnessed your last source of help and inspiration, you will have written something remarkable, and they will find it in a hole in Wyoming.

They always have. 

 

By Gordy Hoffman

 

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11 Responses to ““How do I get an agent?” is the WRONG question.”

  1. Steve Sherman Says:

    November 8th, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Truer words have yet to spoken.

    Bravo Mr. Hoffman, bravo.

  2. Jacqui Robinson Says:

    November 8th, 2017 at 11:27 am

    That was like a punch to the nose. My scripts not good enough yet, nowhere near it and I know this! And you’re right about the boredom of the rewrites and the fuzzy feedback. This article is a timely sign for me and resonates so I must be on the right track! Thank you!

  3. Eric Vasallo Says:

    November 8th, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Refreshingly un-jaded advice. Usually, articles and videos and industry talks are filled with “experts” talking about how impossible it is to get a script sold…this article actually leaves some room for hope. Thanks for that.

  4. Mary Goldman Says:

    November 8th, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    Whether a screenplay is outstanding is sooo subjective. I have one screenplay that scored from a 4 to a 9 out of ten on The Blacklist by five different readers. I have a short that made Second Round at Austin which received completely opposite feedback from two different readers (one said “fresh and edgy”, the other “tired and boring”). Yes, I believe as a writer you have to work to hone your craft, but in the end there is a certain amount of luck and timing involved too. I liken it to a giant pinball machine, where your screenplay can get batted up one level only to be batted down again. You need luck and timing in order to get batted up the next three or four levels to the decision-makers. Yes, this is sad and frustrating, but if you believe in your story, your only choice is to persevere!

  5. BlueCat Says:

    November 8th, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Luck and timing are obliterated by the material.

  6. Guy Crawford Says:

    November 8th, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Gordy this rocks! I’m on the shortest path to success for sure. #SmugglersBay isn’t ready yet but I’ll outlast them so they can find it in the hole in Wyoming. Thanks. Guy

  7. Joel Heath Says:

    November 9th, 2017 at 5:09 am

    On the other side of the coin, there is such a thing as taking too long to write your script.

  8. Robert Howell Says:

    November 9th, 2017 at 5:20 am

    Baloney-get an agent

  9. Mary Goldman Says:

    November 9th, 2017 at 5:44 am

    How can luck and timing be obliterated by the material when evaluation of said material is so totally subjective? No one script is going to be perceived as “amazing” by every reader. What’s speaks to you on a deep level may be just so-so for me. So I argue that you need luck to have your script passed to the reader who’ll champion your script and timing that it fits the needs of an agent’s roster, a producer’s slate or an A-list actor’s search for a role. As well, it’s not enough to simply write a brilliant script. You have to put time, effort and money (e.g.contest fees, script hostng fees, lead service fees) to get it out there, to get it read by as many industry people as possible. You have to work to increase the odds.

  10. Clete Keith Says:

    November 9th, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    I agree with a lot of the above. But it is subjective for sure. As the Austin play festival turned down my play, it was being read on Broadway by actors that are currently on Broadway. I found that summed up the process. There are those who aren’t taken or interested by the material and those who have interest and want to be involved. Hard work writing plays a huge roll, but never underestimate connections. I’d be hard pressed to be convinced that having a great script hidden in a folder on you computer would ever be found let alone a hole in Wyoming. But the point of the article is well taken.

  11. Richard Miller Says:

    November 16th, 2017 at 7:35 am

    Mr. Hoffman dishes out some tough love here, and I believe every word. My partner and I are new at this…at this level anyway. I am willing to listen and learn, let me put it that way, and the lesson is truthful.

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