If you have a manager and attorney, do you absolutely need an agent?

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    guywithascript
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  • guywithascript
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    Re: If you have a manager and attorney, do you absolutely need an agent?

    Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
    I don't think the WGA should give in and I don't think that's on their radar, but I'm on the outside looking in like everyone else.
    Same, outside, looking in, but I can see the interests of the agencies are clearly unified, but when I read about the WGA there is a spectrum.

    1. If the WGA is truly representative of its members, that factional divide makes me feel that there might be some legitimacy to a negotiated packaging deal.
    2. It sounds like the agencies are in a stronger negotiating position.
    3. I think a strike, or the big four cutting out writers, would be harmful to everyone.

    Although I agree in principle with what the WGA is saying, does it all have to happen in one fell swoop? Can't they make meaningful gains even if it's not the whole agreement? I don't know, it all sounds very intense and complicated. But it makes for good reading to see what's going on in the industry.

    Well, I was repped and it's a really great relationship to have, since the producer I'm working with WAS my manager, at least there is a familiarity with working together.
    That's certainly an important caveat; since my queries can't get past the threshold I've understood just how important it is to have someone on your side. Who better than a producer with connections!

    Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge, obviously you have a great working knowledge base. I'll see if I can't cut through the MBA this holiday season.

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  • finalact4
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  • finalact4
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    Re: If you have a manager and attorney, do you absolutely need an agent?

    Originally posted by guywithascript View Post
    On the one hand, I suppose business will always snake a way to charge a monthly statement fee and such; on the other hand, that would be categorical spit in writers' eyes, wouldn't it? It's going to be a strange game when everyone needs writers, but the big four won't rep them... but, as you say, it'd be a big opportunity for the mid-sized ones. I wonder if the WGA is being a touch quixotic; wasn't there a counter-proposal to share packaging fees with writers? Is the WGA going to come out of this with a stronger hand? Time will tell...
    From what I've read, especially and because of, IPs are already getting packaging deals without the writer attached yet. So, when writers come on board later the entire creative team is already assembled and a writer will have less control over their vision-- they won't have a say in which director, or talent, because it will already be decided-- this is for features.

    For TV it's a different animal because content creation comes from the writer, for the most part. It'll be interesting to see whether or not writers are locked out of the packaging process. We're coming up on pilot season, the AMPTP negotiations, and hopefully it doesn't result in a strike, but it could.

    I don't think the WGA should give in and I don't think that's on their radar, but I'm on the outside looking in like everyone else.

    Even if you're not repped yet, it sounds like you're taking the right steps, each is a step closer. And thanks for your well wishes.
    Well, I was repped and it's a really great relationship to have, since the producer I'm working with WAS my manager, at least there is a familiarity with working together.
    RE contained thriller - I was automatically thinking low-budget, but of course you're correct. I remember reading the box office numbers for Paranormal Activity, now that was breath taken.
    Paranormal Activity is a great example.

    Two questions for anyone:

    1) Suppose you have a manager who is either a producer, or has a working-relationship with a single producer... how does everyone feel about getting a market("fair") price for your spec, even if only setting the price in an option contract, if you can't take it out to the market? Is that a conversation you'd have with your manager, even if they have that working-relationship?
    Unless someone signs an option agreement, it's yours to do with what you will. If he's your manager it's THEIR JOB to get your work seen by everyone that might apply, not just one producer. That would be a very bad manager.

    And again, until that you sign an option agreement, your manager should be sending it to everyone that it applies. Now your manager might give someone a 24 hour period of time to see it first, but no manager should be "holding out" for one opportunity, imo.

    The OPTION agreement establishes the purchase price and everything else: the sale price, the FLOOR and CEILING, the rewrite fees, the steps, the sequels, prequels, reversion rights, etc... all of it. That's the point of the option, to lock everything in. You should establish the purchase price at 2.5% of the bonded budget (their expectation) and a reasonable CEILING to cover the possibility that the budget comes in significantly higher.

    So, if they think the budget is going to be $10 million, your FLOOR is $250,000 and let's say the cap is $20 mill which means your CEILING IS $500,000, but if the budget sky rockets to $50 million, all you will ever make is the $500k. The payout will vary depending what your team negotiates on your behalf.

    2) Are there such things as milestone payments in script contracts for box office performance? I've heard about the nominal profit sharing from Scriptnotes, but I mean actual payments indexed to box office milestones.
    The option agreement is a fluid document until it's signed. That said, it's unlikely that a new writer would have a position to negotiate box office performance bonuses, but if that's important to you, your Entertainment Lawyer and Agent would know what to negotiate for and will absolutely let you know if you're being too ambitious or threatening your own success at signing an option/purchase.

    What you should really do, is look at the MBA on the WGA's website. It covers a lot of what you should know, and you shouldn't rely on information obtained by members on a writer's forum, mine included.

    Good luck.
    FA4

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  • guywithascript
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  • guywithascript
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    Re: If you have a manager and attorney, do you absolutely need an agent?

    Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
    I think it's possible that the big four may not rep writers at all in the future and that mid-tier agents may collaborate and create a new agency altogether, but it's difficult to tell.
    On the one hand, I suppose business will always snake a way to charge a monthly statement fee and such; on the other hand, that would be categorical spit in writers' eyes, wouldn't it? It's going to be a strange game when everyone needs writers, but the big four won't rep them... but, as you say, it'd be a big opportunity for the mid-sized ones. I wonder if the WGA is being a touch quixotic; wasn't there a counter-proposal to share packaging fees with writers? Is the WGA going to come out of this with a stronger hand? Time will tell...


    Nope, I'm not. I sent some queries out a couple months ago. Had a few reads. Not nearly as many responses as a couple years ago, so that has changed. One script being hip pocketed.

    I haven't sent out the sci-fi epic, we'll see.

    My newest script, my rom-com, I sent to my previous manager who is now only producing. I'm fortunate that way, because he has very strong contacts and we're looking to take it to studios after we develop the script a bit. It is exciting, but I've also been here before.

    Once Tinder is ready to go out, I'll query managers at that time. It should do well and help me find a home with a manager. I also have a referral from a good friend. So, we'll see. It's a very commercial, high concept spec, so fingers crossed, you know?

    Shopping agreements have their own troubles. They are typically shorter in duration and limit the producer to some degree. They are not necessarily an "easy sell."


    Thanks for the well wishes, but you never know. **** falls apart more often than not, so...


    Well what I mean by a contained thriller, is one that has only one, or very locations and only a few characters. It's not the same as a low budget. I'm thinking in the post-apocalyptic sub-genre and maybe set in the woods.

    Think 19 Cloverfield Lane, Panic Room, Flight Plan, 127 Hours, Red Eye, Identity, The Mist, that kind of stuff-ish.



    I'm in a couple writer's groups and I can tell you people get their projects optioned without having any reps at all. I had two option offers for two scripts at about the same time and I had a manager and an entertainment lawyer. Agents are important when you want to get something packaged, but prodcos can get that done, too.

    I refused to $ options and writing for free. This was just a couple years ago, not I think it's even more challenging to money down on an option. I'd be okay with a low or no option as long as I was paid to rewrite.

    best wishes to you, as well...

    FA4
    Even if you're not repped yet, it sounds like you're taking the right steps, each is a step closer. And thanks for your well wishes.

    RE contained thriller - I was automatically thinking low-budget, but of course you're correct. I remember reading the box office numbers for Paranormal Activity, now that was breath taken.


    Two questions for anyone:

    1) Suppose you have a manager who is either a producer, or has a working-relationship with a single producer... how does everyone feel about getting a market("fair") price for your spec, even if only setting the price in an option contract, if you can't take it out to the market? Is that a conversation you'd have with your manager, even if they have that working-relationship?

    2) Are there such things as milestone payments in script contracts for box office performance? I've heard about the nominal profit sharing from Scriptnotes, but I mean actual payments indexed to box office milestones.

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  • guywithascript
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  • guywithascript
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    Re: If you have a manager and attorney, do you absolutely need an agent?

    Originally posted by Satriales View Post
    DM a link to your script. I'll take a look and see if it is something I would refer to my manager.
    Link sent! That's so nice of you to spend some of your holiday time on my script, thank you!

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  • Satriales
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  • Satriales
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    Re: If you have a manager and attorney, do you absolutely need an agent?

    Originally posted by guywithascript View Post
    Point very well taken. I think that is, in fact, what the reps must be thinking when they read my query... that's its all guns and cheap thrills...



    After my finalist placement at AFF and the total silence from reps, I've come to the conclusion that contests are too arbitrary. I feel like a contest wouldn't be any different than just querying directly, and hoping to catch a pliable rep. Of course, it didn't help that I wrote a period piece... After that, I read for AFF for 2 years, 1st and 2nd round, seeing what contests look like on the other side of the line was a shock. I know contest organizers really want to help, but I don't see real efficacy in the processes they've established, not specific to AFF but to contests in general. There's some merit, but the arbitrariness is greater in proportion.

    I think my best bet is to query prod cos, as finalact4 suggested. I know this script is geared for a July 4th wide release, it sounds immodest, but when you know, you know. Having seen the process, I'm certain that contests will turn a critical eye to what is basically popcorn-fare... where they might seek something more academic, I think a producer or creative exec will see dollar signs.

    It's a real bummer, I've put about 2 years into this, writing and trying to get eyes on it. I guess the worst- case scenario is to put it in a drawer and hope it'll have a life AFTER I'm repped from some other spec.

    May I ask what your weird script's subject matter was, and genre?
    DM a link to your script. I'll take a look and see if it is something I would refer to my manager.

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  • finalact4
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  • finalact4
    replied
    Re: If you have a manager and attorney, do you absolutely need an agent?

    Originally posted by guywithascript View Post
    Good point. Can't say I'm au fait with everything, I only know what I read in the trades, but I listened to part of a Scriptnotes episode vis a vis the conflict, and despite a few mid-sized agencies crossing the line, I guess Craig was saying it really only matters if the 3-letter ones sign the new agreement. The attorney I queried said they were too busy with the WGA situation to make a submission to Atlas for me (which no doubt is true, but I also think the attorney was being polite and generous with me, since the attorney is way out of my league). So I guess managers have their work cut out for them... maybe that's all the more reason to find an attorney and hit up the prod cos directly.
    I think it's possible that the big four may not rep writers at all in the future and that mid-tier agents may collaborate and create a new agency altogether, but it's difficult to tell.

    I'm assuming you're repped, then? Does a shopping agreement help you here? And even if these specs go nowhere, don't they help as writing samples? And who knows when the market will turn, isn't that what happened with Evan Daugherty and "Snow White and the Huntsman"? I think I recall an interview where he said a 3-way bidding war raised the sale to $3M. I wouldn't count your specs as write-offs.
    Nope, I'm not. I sent some queries out a couple months ago. Had a few reads. Not nearly as many responses as a couple years ago, so that has changed. One script being hip pocketed.

    I haven't sent out the sci-fi epic, we'll see.

    My newest script, my rom-com, I sent to my previous manager who is now only producing. I'm fortunate that way, because he has very strong contacts and we're looking to take it to studios after we develop the script a bit. It is exciting, but I've also been here before.

    Once Tinder is ready to go out, I'll query managers at that time. It should do well and help me find a home with a manager. I also have a referral from a good friend. So, we'll see. It's a very commercial, high concept spec, so fingers crossed, you know?

    Shopping agreements have their own troubles. They are typically shorter in duration and limit the producer to some degree. They are not necessarily an "easy sell."
    Basically packaging your own writing? Big props to you for getting this far! Sounds like you're pretty far along on the rom com, wish you all the success with it! As for the contained thriller, I guess a "Silence of the Lambs" would be ideal, strong content, low cost, good strategy.
    Thanks for the well wishes, but you never know. **** falls apart more often than not, so...

    Well what I mean by a contained thriller, is one that has only one, or very locations and only a few characters. It's not the same as a low budget. I'm thinking in the post-apocalyptic sub-genre and maybe set in the woods.

    Think 19 Cloverfield Lane, Panic Room, Flight Plan, 127 Hours, Red Eye, Identity, The Mist, that kind of stuff-ish.

    Glad you chimed in, thanks for sharing where you are in your process. Always great to learn from other writers' experiences. Happy holidays to you too!
    I'm in a couple writer's groups and I can tell you people get their projects optioned without having any reps at all. I had two option offers for two scripts at about the same time and I had a manager and an entertainment lawyer. Agents are important when you want to get something packaged, but prodcos can get that done, too.

    I refused to $ options and writing for free. This was just a couple years ago, not I think it's even more challenging to money down on an option. I'd be okay with a low or no option as long as I was paid to rewrite.

    best wishes to you, as well...

    FA4
    finalact4
    Member
    Last edited by finalact4; 12-25-2019, 07:38 AM.

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  • guywithascript
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  • guywithascript
    replied
    Re: If you have a manager and attorney, do you absolutely need an agent?

    Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
    Emerging writers are in a most precarious position with the ATA/WGA dispute with little movement in either direction, which has resulted in managers who have a lot more work to get their client's projects, not only seen, but sold.
    Good point. Can't say I'm au fait with everything, I only know what I read in the trades, but I listened to part of a Scriptnotes episode vis a vis the conflict, and despite a few mid-sized agencies crossing the line, I guess Craig was saying it really only matters if the 3-letter ones sign the new agreement. The attorney I queried said they were too busy with the WGA situation to make a submission to Atlas for me (which no doubt is true, but I also think the attorney was being polite and generous with me, since the attorney is way out of my league). So I guess managers have their work cut out for them... maybe that's all the more reason to find an attorney and hit up the prod cos directly.

    I have a moderate/high budget action thriller ($50 mil range) in the serial killer sub-genre, and even when you have people interested in producing it, it's still so ****ing difficult to 1) secure financing and 2) get an option where they actually pay you to do the rewriting.
    Unfortunately, I also have an epic sci-fi $100 mil budget that is original IP.
    I'm assuming you're repped, then? Does a shopping agreement help you here? And even if these specs go nowhere, don't they help as writing samples? And who knows when the market will turn, isn't that what happened with Evan Daugherty and "Snow White and the Huntsman"? I think I recall an interview where he said a 3-way bidding war raised the sale to $3M. I wouldn't count your specs as write-offs.

    I have another mid-budget, maybe a $20-$30 mil for a high-concept rom-com that I'm working with a producer to rewrite some aspects to get it ready to submit to studios/larger prodcos.

    You wanna know what I think?

    Okay, you don't, but imma gonna tell you anyway...

    contained thriller with a hook.

    BTW, ALL movies are character driven, even huge budget monstrosities. The difference is sacrificing the huge set pieces for lower budget alternatives that get hot new directors, producers, actors and other integral artists interested in your project.
    Basically packaging your own writing? Big props to you for getting this far! Sounds like you're pretty far along on the rom com, wish you all the success with it! As for the contained thriller, I guess a "Silence of the Lambs" would be ideal, strong content, low cost, good strategy.

    I know you weren't addressing your comments to me, but hey, thought I'd throw in anyway.
    Glad you chimed in, thanks for sharing where you are in your process. Always great to learn from other writers' experiences. Happy holidays to you too!

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  • finalact4
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  • finalact4
    replied
    Re: If you have a manager and attorney, do you absolutely need an agent?

    Originally posted by guywithascript View Post
    Point very well taken. I think that is, in fact, what the reps must be thinking when they read my query... that's its all guns and cheap thrills...



    After my finalist placement at AFF and the total silence from reps, I've come to the conclusion that contests are too arbitrary. I feel like a contest wouldn't be any different than just querying directly, and hoping to catch a pliable rep. Of course, it didn't help that I wrote a period piece... After that, I read for AFF for 2 years, 1st and 2nd round, seeing what contests look like on the other side of the line was a shock. I know contest organizers really want to help, but I don't see real efficacy in the processes they've established, not specific to AFF but to contests in general. There's some merit, but the arbitrariness is greater in proportion.

    I think my best bet is to query prod cos, as finalact4 suggested. I know this script is geared for a July 4th wide release, it sounds immodest, but when you know, you know. Having seen the process, I'm certain that contests will turn a critical eye to what is basically popcorn-fare... where they might seek something more academic, I think a producer or creative exec will see dollar signs.

    It's a real bummer, I've put about 2 years into this, writing and trying to get eyes on it. I guess the worst- case scenario is to put it in a drawer and hope it'll have a life AFTER I'm repped from some other spec.

    May I ask what your weird script's subject matter was, and genre?
    The trick is finding a producer with money. And it ain't easy, lemme tell you.

    Emerging writers are in a most precarious position with the ATA/WGA dispute with little movement in either direction, which has resulted in managers who have a lot more work to get their client's projects, not only seen, but sold.

    Managers get ghosted, too.

    I have a moderate/high budget action thriller ($50 mil range) in the serial killer sub-genre, and even when you have people interested in producing it, it's still so ****ing difficult to 1) secure financing and 2) get an option where they actually pay you to do the rewriting.

    And it's so depressing.

    Unfortunately, I also have an epic sci-fi $100 mil budget that is original IP. Not going to happen. Especially now with Disney owning so many of the huge franchises, it looks like that will be the focus for a while to come.

    I have another mid-budget, maybe a $20-$30 mil for a high-concept rom-com that I'm working with a producer to rewrite some aspects to get it ready to submit to studios/larger prodcos.

    You wanna know what I think?

    Okay, you don't, but imma gonna tell you anyway...

    contained thriller with a hook.

    BTW, ALL movies are character driven, even huge budget monstrosities. The difference is sacrificing the huge set pieces for lower budget alternatives that get hot new directors, producers, actors and other integral artists interested in your project.

    That's what I'm researching now. Contained thriller with a unique hook.

    I know you weren't addressing your comments to me, but hey, thought I'd throw in anyway.

    Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukah. Happy Kwanza. Happy whatever beautiful holiday you celebrate. And most of all... Happy New Year!!
    FA4

    yeah, okay, i've had some wine. Dinner's on the way.

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  • guywithascript
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  • guywithascript
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    Re: If you have a manager and attorney, do you absolutely need an agent?

    Originally posted by JS90 View Post
    I'm just saying that you shouldn't dismiss the importance of character in your pitch just because it's an action flick.
    Point very well taken. I think that is, in fact, what the reps must be thinking when they read my query... that's its all guns and cheap thrills...

    As for this script, you can always enter it in some contests. A weird script of mine that I'm super proud of didn't catch on with any reps but it placed in some good contests.
    After my finalist placement at AFF and the total silence from reps, I've come to the conclusion that contests are too arbitrary. I feel like a contest wouldn't be any different than just querying directly, and hoping to catch a pliable rep. Of course, it didn't help that I wrote a period piece... After that, I read for AFF for 2 years, 1st and 2nd round, seeing what contests look like on the other side of the line was a shock. I know contest organizers really want to help, but I don't see real efficacy in the processes they've established, not specific to AFF but to contests in general. There's some merit, but the arbitrariness is greater in proportion.

    I think my best bet is to query prod cos, as finalact4 suggested. I know this script is geared for a July 4th wide release, it sounds immodest, but when you know, you know. Having seen the process, I'm certain that contests will turn a critical eye to what is basically popcorn-fare... where they might seek something more academic, I think a producer or creative exec will see dollar signs.

    It's a real bummer, I've put about 2 years into this, writing and trying to get eyes on it. I guess the worst- case scenario is to put it in a drawer and hope it'll have a life AFTER I'm repped from some other spec.

    May I ask what your weird script's subject matter was, and genre?

    Leave a comment:


  • JS90
    replied
    Re: If you have a manager and attorney, do you absolutely need an agent?

    Originally posted by guywithascript View Post
    I think this is too broad of a statement, someone else could just as easily express the opposite sentiment, couldn't they? That action should have greater emphasis on being plot-driven rather than character-driven? I think that's a matter of taste.

    I know the concept might sound campy, as in "FOOTBALL, MILITARY, EXPLOSIONS," but there's real dramatic substance to it. But it just doesn't matter if it can't get read.
    I don't know enough about your story so I can't really speak for or against it, but I will say that (in my opinion) the best action movies always come down to character. Die Hard, The Matrix, Fast and Furious. Character drove action in those movies, not the other way around. Im sure your movie has plenty of strong character driven elements - I'm just saying that you shouldn't dismiss the importance of character in your pitch just because it's an action flick.

    As for this script, you can always enter it in some contests. A weird script of mine that I'm super proud of didn't catch on with any reps but it placed in some good contests.

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  • guywithascript
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  • guywithascript
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    Re: If you have a manager and attorney, do you absolutely need an agent?

    Originally posted by Satriales View Post
    Don't write a blockbuster. That's my two cents.
    Well... I've already written it. And it's a great blockbuster, even if it's only used as a sample. The spectacle is fantastic, there are set pieces I've never seen before, there's lots of military hardware, with daring feats and heroic sacrifices. Even if the spec went nowhere, I think this could get me jobs. Anyway, isn't it the adage to write action, horror, and comedy?

    I thought, at least, it'd be much easier getting attention for an action blockbuster than, say, my period drama.

    Originally posted by docgonzo View Post
    Second this. Character driven with a strong hook is a much better way to go.
    I think this is too broad of a statement, someone else could just as easily express the opposite sentiment, couldn't they? That action should have greater emphasis on being plot-driven rather than character-driven? I think that's a matter of taste.

    I know the concept might sound campy, as in "FOOTBALL, MILITARY, EXPLOSIONS," but there's real dramatic substance to it. But it just doesn't matter if it can't get read.

    Query producers directly. They're hungry for material, too.
    I meant to say, I thought this would be the best way forward after no agents answered my queries... but the prod cos all have submission policies, and I'd need a referral or a rep.

    If anyone knows an attorney who'd make a submission to a producer, I'd be so grateful for their contact.

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  • docgonzo
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  • docgonzo
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    Re: If you have a manager and attorney, do you absolutely need an agent?

    Originally posted by Satriales View Post
    Conceptually that's a tough sell because there's no hook (as you've described it here) and it sounds expensive. Don't write a blockbuster. That's my two cents.
    Second this. Character driven with a strong hook is a much better way to go.

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  • Satriales
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  • Satriales
    replied
    Re: If you have a manager and attorney, do you absolutely need an agent?

    Conceptually that's a tough sell because there's no hook (as you've described it here) and it sounds expensive. Don't write a blockbuster. That's my two cents.

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  • guywithascript
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  • guywithascript
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    Re: If you have a manager and attorney, do you absolutely need an agent?

    I tried Atlas, they said they take submissions only from reps and lawyers. I figure it'll be the same for any company or producer. It seems without a referral or rep, the query is dead on arrival.

    That's what I was saying about needing someone to get to someone...

    Back in 2011 I was a finalist at AFF with a period drama, I didn't know period was a dead end as a naked script, especially as a new writer. I was so elated with that placement, I thought all my writerly troubles were over... but the placement got me no reads, no reps nada.

    So I finally decided to try something commercial, came up with this concept of a pro football team that battles commando terrorists. This is the epitome of a Hollywood blockbuster, perfect studio popcorn, the action is big and there's real drama in it... but I'm thinking the reps are having trouble seeing how this concept works... but it does work! Now I'm thinking I may have gone too high concept.

    I tried a crazy kickstarter this year, just trying to move this property under someone's lights. Another dead end.

    Just exhausted now. The brief high from the attorney crashed pretty hard.

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  • finalact4
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  • finalact4
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    Re: If you have a manager and attorney, do you absolutely need an agent?

    Query producers directly. They're hungry for material, too.

    There are high level managers that do respond to queries, but the query has to fit their sensibilities.

    Don't give up. Keep sending them. Wait a few months. Try again. Keep writing.

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