Even when you have reps...

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  • Even when you have reps...

    Still hustle for yourself. It’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received on this board.

    We took a spec out in late fall. Got some passes. A few places kept kicking it up the chain. I asked my manager if we had sent to Big Director’s prodco and he was like “ehhh I know the VP and I don’t think this is up their alley.” I’m like look, I have never once pushed back on anything - I’m asking you to send. I think it’s a fit. He sent.

    And it very much is a fit. Nobody knows anything in this town. Don’t ever stop advocating for yourself, even if your reps are great like mine.
    Last edited by Satriales; 01-24-2020, 11:17 AM.

  • #2
    Re: Even when you have reps...

    When i was at Austin this year, i went to a panel on the manager writer relationship and the writer was Henry Jones and he said the same thing. He said even though his manager busted his ass, he was out there hustling his work and sending it to and producer/exec that he had prior relationships to.

    he's a force, that one, nothing is going to get in the way of his success, if he can help it.

    Great advice, Satriales.
    "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

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    • #3
      Re: Even when you have reps...

      My experience too.

      I used to resent the fact they just waited until I landed something and then took their commision but I accept it now.

      But not just with my reps, with producers too. I'm pushing, setting calls with financiers, actors agents, sales companies.

      I can't wait around for someone to champion my work, I have to be that guy.

      Just the way it is.

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      • #4
        Re: Even when you have reps...

        Originally posted by Satriales View Post
        Still hustle for yourself. It's one of the best pieces of advice I've received on this board.

        We took a spec out in late fall. Got some passes. A few places kept kicking it up the chain. I asked my manager if we had sent to Big Director's prodco and he was like "ehhh I know the VP and I don't think this is up their alley.- I'm like look, I have never once pushed back on anything - I'm asking you to send. I think it's a fit. He sent.

        And it very much is a fit. Nobody knows anything in this town. Don't ever stop advocating for yourself, even if your reps are great like mine.
        The corollary of this is, don't get swept along on the current of whatever your reps are doing.

        If left to their own devices, reps will put you up for projects you're not in love with, and some will send you around town to meet with 50 junior execs who have no power to hire writers.

        Learning to say "no" is hard, but it's essential if you want to preserve the time you need to develop your own ideas.

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        • #5
          Re: Even when you have reps...

          Originally posted by Incognito View Post
          I'm pushing, setting calls with financiers, actors agents, sales companies.
          Let's be clear that I am not saying sit back and do as your told and shut up but consult your reps on this. Last thing you all need is inadvertently undermining a strategy. So you (not specifically you, Incognito, the broader you) got it to Netflix and they passed. In the meantime your rep got it to a big producer who wants to take it to Netflix where they just made a successful movie. But you have already killed Netflix, potentially made the producer look foolish ("dude, we passed on this already") who then is mad with your rep.

          Originally posted by AnyOtherName View Post
          If left to their own devices, reps will put you up for projects you're not in love with, and some will send you around town to meet with 50 junior execs who have no power to hire writers.
          That's not how it works. Reps don't ask you to put you up for a job, it just happens, then if you are lucky enough for them to say "yes, let's go to your team Joe Done & Jane Deal for this rewrite" you can always pass. You want to be put up for jobs and there's power in a pass - "so they passed? damn, well what are they looking for" and it keeps your name in the general conversation, reminds the exec you exist etc.

          Also, go and meet 50 jr execs. Every head of a studio was a jr exec at one time. You want those relationships. When you're a multi-credited or otherwise higher end writer then you can get picky. There are ridiculously few people in this town who have the power to directly hire writers. Even big producers have to go to the studio and get them to sign off on a writer. And some jr execs are better positioned than a sr exec depending on the situation. Who has the bosses ear, the sr exec or the jr who was the bosses assistant for the last few years and knows them inside out? And so on...

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          • #6
            Re: Even when you have reps...

            Originally posted by Northbank View Post
            That's not how it works. Reps don't ask you to put you up for a job, it just happens, then if you are lucky enough for them to say "yes, let's go to your team Joe Done & Jane Deal for this rewrite" you can always pass. You want to be put up for jobs and there's power in a pass - "so they passed? damn, well what are they looking for" and it keeps your name in the general conversation, reminds the exec you exist etc.
            I can't parse most of this, but the part I do understand is obviously incorrect. You write, "That's not how it works. Reps don't ask you to put you up for a job, it just happens." Like... no? If an OWA comes up in a staffing meeting, etc., reps will usually ask "Hey, are you interested in...?" and you either say yes you are interested, or no you're not. If you're interested, they'll submit you for the job, and if you're not interested, they won't.

            Originally posted by Northbank View Post
            Also, go and meet 50 jr execs. Every head of a studio was a jr exec at one time. You want those relationships. When you're a multi-credited or otherwise higher end writer then you can get picky. There are ridiculously few people in this town who have the power to directly hire writers. Even big producers have to go to the studio and get them to sign off on a writer. And some jr execs are better positioned than a sr exec depending on the situation. Who has the bosses ear, the sr exec or the jr who was the bosses assistant for the last few years and knows them inside out? And so on...
            Look, to each their own, but going around meeting CEs who were assistants 18 months ago is usually an enormous waste of time. It's not just that the meetings themselves take time (though, in 50 afternoons, you probably could have written a good chunk of a spec, which would be waaaay more valuable than 50 water bottles); it's that, in order for a meeting to turn into anything more than a complete waste of time, you really have to engage on something-- which is to say, you'll have to read some IP they own and write a polite pass, or you'll have to soft-pitch something (which will invariably lead to a request that you write up a couple pages). Then, if they get excited about something, they'll want you to pitch their boss (since remember, none of these people can actually hire writers), which will lead to more writing, more pitching, more development... with a near-certainty that none of this will lead to a job (since ideas brought in by newbie CEs go nowhere ~99% of the time).

            This is a great recipe for mortgaging a year or more of your life, with nothing to show for it but some relationships with low-level execs (who will, in all likelihood, move on to other jobs at places with which you're not a good fit). I personally think that's a bad recipe for advancing your career long-term, but mileage will, of course, vary.

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            • #7
              Re: Even when you have reps...

              Originally posted by AnyOtherName View Post
              If an OWA comes up in a staffing meeting, etc., reps will usually ask "Hey, are you interested in...?" and you either say yes you are interested, or no you're not. If you're interested, they'll submit you for the job, and if you're not interested, they won't.
              To quote Sir Ben - No; no, no, no, no, no. Maybe your rep does, that's super bizarre. Reps are not waiting for approval on this. If an OWA comes up in a staff meeting they fight to get your name in there right now, if they are on the phone with an exec who says "I've got an OWA for x type of writer" do you think your rep says nothing then waits to connect with you so they can then get into phone tag to get the exec back on the phone in order to put you up the job 24/48hrs after they first heard about it? No. They put you up for it right away, on the first call.

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              • #8
                Re: Even when you have reps...

                My feature rep handles it like AnyOtherName says. He'll call and say "Hey, I'm sending you a short film/novel/old script that so-and-so wants to adapt/rewrite. Let me know if you spark to the idea and I'll set up a meeting."

                And then I can say either yes or no. (But I always say yes, and so maybe the whole conversation is merely a formality.)

                But my TV rep handles it like Northbank says. He'll call and say "Hey, I got you a show runner meeting with so-and-so on Pilot X. It'll be in Santa Monica on Thursday." He never asks for my interest level.

                Maybe that's a difference between the feature world and TV world. Feature development tends to move slower, unless it's a big, studio franchise property.

                TV spots, meanwhile, have an opening and then there's a mad rush to fill them. First in often wins.

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                • #9
                  Re: Even when you have reps...

                  Of the 15 or so CEs I met with on my first go round (remaining 5-7 were higher) I think 11 had moved on a year later, to totally different companies that weren't fits for me. That said, one CE was a huge fan and pushed me enough to her boss that they bought my pitch.

                  I just look at it as a long game. It's a relationship business. I'll still email folks who've moved on to places that aren't fits for me just to say hello. YMMV.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Even when you have reps...

                    Originally posted by Bunker View Post
                    My feature rep handles it like AnyOtherName says. He'll call and say "Hey, I'm sending you a short film/novel/old script that so-and-so wants to adapt/rewrite. Let me know if you spark to the idea and I'll set up a meeting."

                    And then I can say either yes or no. (But I always say yes, and so maybe the whole conversation is merely a formality.)

                    But my TV rep handles it like Northbank says. He'll call and say "Hey, I got you a show runner meeting with so-and-so on Pilot X. It'll be in Santa Monica on Thursday." He never asks for my interest level.

                    Maybe that's a difference between the feature world and TV world. Feature development tends to move slower, unless it's a big, studio franchise property.

                    TV spots, meanwhile, have an opening and then there's a mad rush to fill them. First in often wins.
                    The first paragraph is exactly what I am talking about, your rep already got the material in for you so the exec wants a meeting, it's then your choice. Reps don't send clients material, wait to see if they like it, then call the exec. All assignments have criteria that a rep doesn't know about until they call - we need a high end comedy punch up, we need someone the studio already knows and likes, we're out to Aaron Sorkin already, we only have x amount so no one with a quote higher than that, we need a character pass, someone who will relocate to New York for 6 months (Blue Sky writers) and twenty other versions of that. How do you feel if you read a book (a big one like LOTR!) and say yes to your rep who calls and then the exec passes on you for whatever reason. So you just wasted that time and are mad at your rep - "why couldn't you get me in there? I could have met 50 CEs in that time!" etc. That's not how the vast majority of reps work.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Even when you have reps...

                      Originally posted by Northbank View Post
                      To quote Sir Ben - No; no, no, no, no, no. Maybe your rep does, that's super bizarre. Reps are not waiting for approval on this. If an OWA comes up in a staff meeting they fight to get your name in there right now, if they are on the phone with an exec who says "I've got an OWA for x type of writer" do you think your rep says nothing then waits to connect with you so they can then get into phone tag to get the exec back on the phone in order to put you up the job 24/48hrs after they first heard about it? No. They put you up for it right away, on the first call.
                      It's not "super bizarre," I've been repped at multiple agencies, I used to work at an agency, and I have friends are agents and managers-- and I assure you, none of them operate remotely like the Broadway Danny Rose you seem to have in your head. You're going around with a deeply skewed mental image of how the representation business works, and I doubt it's doing you any favors, but it's obviously your choice whether to believe me.

                      The larger point remains that so, so many careers have withered and died because writers with their first taste of heat allowed their reps to run their lives. My PSA is that learning to say no to meetings, to pitching on OWAs, etc., is a survival skill vital to building a long-term career. That's something that's just not talked about enough, and too many writers waste years of their lives learning it the hard way. That's all I'm trying to say.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Even when you have reps...

                        Originally posted by AnyOtherName View Post
                        It's not "super bizarre," I've been repped at multiple agencies, I used to work at an agency, and I have friends are agents and managers-- and I assure you, none of them operate remotely like the Broadway Danny Rose you seem to have in your head. You're going around with a deeply skewed mental image of how the representation business works, and I doubt it's doing you any favors, but it's obviously your choice whether to believe me.

                        The larger point remains that so, so many careers have withered and died because writers with their first taste of heat allowed their reps to run their lives. My PSA is that learning to say no to meetings, to pitching on OWAs, etc., is a survival skill vital to building a long-term career. That's something that's just not talked about enough, and too many writers waste years of their lives learning it the hard way. That's all I'm trying to say.
                        Seems like we both know what we are talking about from deep experience, yet we're just two anonymous people on the internet...

                        And i never said anywhere to allow a rep to run your career. You should absolutely pass on OWAs that aren't for you and good reps expect you to do exactly that. And sure, tell your rep you'd like to keep a certain amount of time clear so you don't have to cross town all week for generals but also when it's right, do the generals or at least discuss which to do. There's a balance was always my point.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Even when you have reps...

                          Originally posted by Satriales View Post
                          I'll still email folks who've moved on to places that aren't fits for me just to say hello. YMMV.
                          Curious about your approach to this. I'm terrible at this part of the game. How do you go about reach out to stay in touch? A simple, "Hey, just checking in to say hi"? (not that simple, but you know...)

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                          • #14
                            Re: Even when you have reps...

                            Originally posted by docgonzo View Post
                            Curious about your approach to this. I'm terrible at this part of the game. How do you go about reach out to stay in touch? A simple, "Hey, just checking in to say hi"? (not that simple, but you know...)
                            I've only done this when I had a new project in circulation, so I reached out for that express purpose, while making it clear that I didn't automatically expect them to read. I remind them that I completely understand if the project isn't a fit.

                            But if an exec has moved on to a company where there is really no hope of them pursuing anything of mine, I probably wouldn't bother. No point in approaching an exec at Nickelodeon about your violent dystopian thriller.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Even when you have reps...

                              Originally posted by docgonzo View Post
                              Curious about your approach to this. I'm terrible at this part of the game. How do you go about reach out to stay in touch? A simple, "Hey, just checking in to say hi"? (not that simple, but you know...)
                              I keep a spreadsheet of folks I email after a general. Once every 4-5 months I do a cursory LinkedIn/IMDB search and drop a note if they've moved on. "Hey, hope you are well - just heard that you moved on - congrats!- and all that happy horseshit.

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