View Full Version : How to go from hip pocket to "real" client?

07-26-2002, 04:26 PM
Hi - I'm new to this board but I've been reading some posts and I have a question regarding agents.

The first script I wrote post college was taken on by an agent (I was very lucky) - my co-writer and I signed a contract for this agency to rep. this one particular script - not us as writers. Nothing came of it and our contract eventually expired. Since then, this agent has continued to read my work, has not signed me to another contract but allows me to use her name and will send out scripts if I ask her to (I hear this is called hip pocketing). Our relationship to this point (which has been off and on for about 5 years) seems to be on a script by script basis. But now I'm interested in being repped as a writer. Does anyone know how to make that transition? Or how to go from being hip pocketed to being a real live client? I find the whole situation rather confusing, to be honest. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

07-26-2002, 08:22 PM
First off - welcome to the board, krock7. I've learned a ton while here - hope it's working for you, too.

I apologize if any of this is "well, DUH!" obvious - but I'm not sure what you think "script representation to writer rep" means. So please bare with me.

A hip-pocket means that you are not officially on the books at the agency. It's a way to reduce the risk for the agent when taking a chance on a new writer - if the agent signs the writer to a contract and no sales result, it makes the agent look bad. But there's no harm to the agent if a hip-pocketed client doesn't perform.

Whether you sign a contract with your agent or if it's a verbal handshake agreement, your agent should still be an agent - help you market your script, get you meetings, handle negotiations and money issues, etc.

Your situation (as I understand it) is just weird. I can't imagine a situation where an agent would hip-pocket someone for <!--EZCODE BOLD START--> five<!--EZCODE BOLD END--> years. It leads me to ask these questions-

1) Have any of your works sold? If your agent has been willing to look at your works for five years, your writing is probably good. But if you had a sale, she would be itching to sign you up so you don't go elsewhere.

2) Do you have a good rapport with your agent? Do you keep good lines of communication open with her? Have you considered asking her what would need to happen to become an official client?

3) Are you happy with your agent? Could you do better? If you believe that you have five year's worth of scripts that she hasn't sold, perhaps you would be better off finding someone else.

4) Is your agent in L.A.? All I've written above goes out the window if your agent is in Little Rock, Arkansas. Because if that's the case, your agent is incapable of helping further your career. You need to drop her five years of nothing and find someone in L.A..

Hope this helps!

07-27-2002, 07:49 AM
Thanks for the words of advice. The situation is pretty convoluted and murky.

Although I've had a relationship with this agent (who is in LA) for about 5 years - it's been off and on because I haven't been writing full time. In fact there was a good 1.5-2 yrs. that I didn't write anything because I was working full time in TV production. So all in all, my agent has read 4 scripts from me, including my most recent, which I'm still waiting to hear back from her on. The first one she signed me to a contract to rep. just that script for a year. It didn't sell. The next two she read and gave me various reasons why they couldn't give me a contract on them (although she said she liked them).

Now she has my latest, which I think is by far my strongest work to date. I am now doing this full time and I really want to make it work. She's really nice and we get along great - she works at a smaller agency (Don Buchwald). But she's not quick about reading and responding to my scripts or returning my calls. And as far as I can tell, when I'm hip pocketed - I do all the work and she just sends out a script or makes a phone call when I ask her to.

I guess the bottom line is that I'm confused as to what my relationship is with her. I don't know if I'm a client or not. And since i don't know my status, I'm reluctant to demand too many services from her or ask too many questions.

I'll just take your advice and ask her straight out what my deal is with her. Because if our working relationship continues like this, it's not going to get me anywhere.

Thanks again!

07-27-2002, 02:54 PM
If you have someone sending your scripts out, that's all that matters. Then it's up to the scripts. I'd bet if one of those scripts sold or got you an assignment, you'd be signed by the agency. The goal isn't to be signed by an agency, it's to get the scripts out to the people who can buy them.

- Bill

07-27-2002, 03:04 PM
Definitely talk to your agent. But like Joan recommended, don't ruin your relationship with her. If the current script is good, she'll eventually read it, realize how good it is, and send it out for you.

But if your gut feeling tells you that you could do better, don't be afraid to look elsewhere. A few phone calls with "I'm hip-pocketed at Buchwald" should get a few agents willing to look at your stuff. Or if you're fulltime in television production, you probably know people who know people who could put in a good word for you.

Keep in mind, though - even if an agent signs you, you'll still be doing a lot of legwork yourself. Hip-pocket or signed, the agent is never going to be a magic fountain of work - most writers I know get most of their work from their own hustle and networking.

Bottom line - the only sure-fire way to go from hip-pocket to signed client is to write something that sells and build some heat (god, I hate that term :) ). Then the agency will want to sign YOU and keep you in-house.

Let us know how it goes. Best of luck!

07-28-2002, 08:52 PM
Krock7: Sounds like your in good hands and things are going fairly well at Buchwald. Its a good agency with access and agents with experience. Let it be. My advice: Don't push getting signed. Go with the flow while you're in her good graces. There may be lots of things within the agency that have caused her to hip-pocket you. Maybe other agents aren't quite convinced about your work for whatever reason, but she sees something viable in your writing. Be glad that she likes the work and hope for the best.

If she sells one of your scripts, I promise an agency contract will makes its way to you before the deal gets signed. Good for you.

Best of luck,

07-29-2002, 07:49 AM
Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I will take the majority's advice and not muck up my relationship with my agent. I was having serious doubts about severing my one sure tie to the Hollywood industry anyway.

I've completed two scripts this summer and hopefully these will be the two that will go somewhere and get me signed. We shall see!

Thanks again.

07-29-2002, 07:54 AM
I was in a hip-pocket situation with a agent and the way I was able to advance that relationship was by making her some money. It wasn't a lot of money, but it was enough to prove I was serious about working. It sounds like you have had one foot in and one foot out. Let your agent know you want to take the plunge and then hustle your work to prove it. I know it means doing some of the agent's job for them, but in the end they go where the money is.

07-29-2002, 07:59 AM
I meant:
<!--EZCODE BOLD START--> making her some money<!--EZCODE BOLD END-->

pay no attention to the EZ Code behind the curtain. >:

07-30-2002, 07:31 AM

Is the agent you've been dealing with at Buckwald named Debbie? Just curious.

07-30-2002, 08:35 AM
No, her name's not Debbie. Well, I got more bad news anyway. She read my latest script, loved it, but of course it turns out she's spent the last several months packaging another script with almost the same story as mine. She's got a director and star attached already, so she says she can't represent my script due to conflict of interest. But she encourages me to send it out to people anyway because she really liked it (sending it out without representation - that will be fun!). And she's dying to read the one I'm working on now. Of course, when I get news like this, all I really feel like doing is crawling back into bed and sleeping for several days. All that hard work down the drain....


07-30-2002, 10:29 PM
There are other agents. There are producers. There are places to pitch, on line and in person. There are contests. And you still have a good script.

07-31-2002, 06:47 AM
If she loved your script see if she'll give you a referral.

08-02-2002, 11:21 PM
Don't give up Krock7! You're further down the road than you realize. "Close but no cigar" at least means close. So at worst--at WORST--the script gets put in a drawer and you work on the new one. In time, if the new one breaks you in, the old one will still be available.

We write...why. Because we're stupid/insane/obsessive-compulsive. But if we don't write we're just wasting time.

Queen Uhuru
08-03-2002, 01:15 AM
I'm new to this message board (I have a message board for Project Greenlighters) but I just wanted to add this comment: A friend of mine who had a nice but not-doing-much-of-anything agent said it was much easier to get a new agent by stating they already had an agent or a past business relationship with another agent.

Of course, you don't want to misrepresent your relationship with this current agent, but there are ways of stating something that is factually true and yet puts you in a positive light.

Have you tried sending out some queries to other agencies?