Returning to screenwriting - agent or manager?



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  • Returning to screenwriting - agent or manager?

    Hi everyone,

    First post here, so quick bit of backstory to explain my reason for posting.

    Many years ago - almost 19, actually - I wrote a couple of screenplays and had them optioned by small prodcos - one in the US and one over here in the UK. Nothing happened with them, and because I was stupidly young I didn't keep the pressure on and use those as a stepping stone to other thing.

    Fast forward those 19 years and I'm now a children's/YA author published by HarperCollins UK. I've recently written some episodes of a low budget kids TV show that will start broadcasting here in August, and looking forward to seeing what comes of that.

    The big dream - which no doubt a high percentage of you share - is to be writing for Hollywood, and I'm now writing the first feature-length screenplay I've tackled in almost two decades.

    My question is - what next? I'm in Scotland, so a looooong way from LA. My instinct is I should be looking for representation over there, either in the form of an agent or manager. Someone who can network for me to an extent, because uprooting my wife and kids from Scotland just isn't possible.

    Which road would you recommend - agent or manager? I'm not absolutely sure I know the difference in terms of what they actually do for their clients. I have a literary agent in the UK who specialises in children's books, but I landed the TV writing stuff myself. Doing that in the US from the Highlands of Scotland would probably be much more difficult, I suspect.

    But maybe not. Maybe you think agents/managers are the devil and should be avoided at all costs. If so, love to hear your reasons.

    Sorry for the ramble...

  • #2
    Re: Returning to screenwriting - agent or manager?


    I hate to not be extremely positive, but you have several things that are not favored for LA representation:
    1- It's been 19 years.
    2- The options were with small production companies.
    3- Nothing was produced.
    4- You're outside of LA.
    5- You're outside of the US.

    My suggestion is to keep writing and pitch to small production companies in the US and see if you can pick up where you left off. With any luck, you'll get an amazing response, a deal and the reps will find you.

    How do I know this? I live in LA; have sold 3 features, several options, many produced works in 5 years without representation. No offers of representation in 5 years. I should've taken the one offer just to break the ice, but didn't.

    Now, it's more about the amount of money that can be made on you, than ever before because of the economy of things. People's time is worth money, so they want a bit of a guarantee that their clients are able to bring in a certain amount of revenue for their hard work.

    So... Just keep writing and working as hard as you can from your end for now. It isn't impossible. At least you write in English. Yay! And if your stuff is great, it'll find it's way to the right people.

    Good luck!
    Check out my animated feature available on VOD:


    • #3
      Re: Returning to screenwriting - agent or manager?

      Thanks for the reply, and congrats on your successes - awesome work.

      I'm well used to that write-rewrite-submit-repeat ethos from writing books, so with you all the way on that. To be honest I'm probably getting carried away on the excitement of getting back into writing screenplays again. I probably shouldn't even be thinking about representation at this stage, and just concentrating on getting an as close to perfect as possible screenplay written for now.

      Interesting to hear it's so difficult despite your successes and your obvious advantage with regards location. Have you been actively looking for it, or are you happy just waiting to see what happens?


      • #4
        Re: Returning to screenwriting - agent or manager?

        Sounds like a good plan. And thank you.
        I have been looking here and there, but it isn't my main focus. Too busy creating to get hung up on it. Would be nice to have someone with really good connections on my team, but I've made quite a few on my own since I got here during late 2007.
        Check out my animated feature available on VOD:


        • #5
          Re: Returning to screenwriting - agent or manager?

          What happened 19 years ago is irrelevant so you can get that off your mind.

          Write a good screenplay first.

          You will need representation especially since you don't live in LA. You'll need representation anyway at some point. Managers are traditionally more likely to take on a new writer since part of their job is to help shape a career whereas agents are primarily concerned with selling stuff. This is not a clearcut rule.

          Being a published author helps. Book agencies often work with agents or agencies in the entertainment industry to help handle movie rights. If your agency does that, maybe they can put you into touch with their movie guy.

          Also explore the contacts you made from your TV stuff. They might have contacts in LA.

          Getting through with referrals is a lot easier than trying to go in cold. It seems like you've got some stuff going on where you are, just try to build on that.


          • #6
            Re: Returning to screenwriting - agent or manager?

            Originally posted by slupo View Post

            Write a good screenplay first.

            And really the rest of Slupo's excellent post, too.
            "I hate to break it to you but there is no big lie. There is no system. The universe is indifferent.- - Don Draper