Ask the Screenplay Doctor: More About Agents
Written by Susan Kouguell | Posted by: Michele Meek
Before addressing this month’s questions, I am going to begin with a few words about a few ways not to contact film industry folks. This topic was brought to my attention by a reader who emailed me his logline and synopsis without any introduction or any other information.
How to Contact Film Industry Professionals
Here are some pointers about submitting your logline, synopsis, treatment, and/or screenplay:
1) Do not email your logline and/or synopsis unless it has been requested by the company to whom you are querying. (This also means that I do not accept queries for this column and I do not make referrals on your behalf — I am not an agent.)
2) Research the company you are interested in, and find out if they are accepting unsolicited query letters (unsolicited means material not submitted by an agent, manager, and/or entertainment attorney). Companies will state on their website, for example, if they are accepting query letters, whether they will accept unsolicited ones and their preference — an email, hard copy, or faxed query.
3) Do not send your work until you have registered it with the Writers Guild of America. (www.wga.org) There is nothing “wrong” per se with an agent who is not signatory to the WGA, however, agents who are not signatory may charge reading, copying, and/or consulting fees. More important, nonsignatory agents do not have to abide by the WGA rules, which protect writers’ interests.
The March issue sparked more questions about agents, including, “Do I need one?” and “How do I find one?” I suggest reading the March Ask the Screenplay Doctor column to learn more information about this topic.
Now to your questions…
What type of an agent does someone need if they have written a screenplay? There are many different types of agents: literary, actors/actresses, etc. Agents that only publish books or only handle actors do not represent people with screenplays. Therefore, what kind of an agent does someone need for representation on a screenplay? Thanks. — Scott
Yes, there are various types of agents and yes, most agents only represent specific categories, such as screenwriters. If you have written a written a screenplay you will need an agent who specifically handles screenplays. This information is often available on the agency’s website.
I have written to talent agents only to find out they don’t handle screenplays. Where, and how do you find the listing for agents who handle only screenplays? In this day and age is having one a must to even be looked at by a producer? – Doris
Research the agencies to find out exactly which agents represent screenwriters. As I suggested in last month’s column, reading the film industry trade publications, such as Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, which list spec scripts written by new talent that have been optioned or bought by production companies and studios. Often they will list the agent who represented the script. Track these agents and contact them. Another good resource is The Hollywood Representation Directory (www.hcdonline.com)
I wrote a comedy script. How do I even get someone to look at it? Do I need an agent? – Stacy
It depends on who the “someone” is — but assuming that you are interested in submitting your screenplay to production companies, then generally yes, having an agent submit your script on your behalf is most beneficial. However, some companies do accept material not represented by an agent, but you must research each company to learn their submission guidelines.
To learn more about finding an agent, read Susan Kouguell’s book The Savvy Screenwriter: How to Sell Your Screenplay (and Yourself) Without Selling Out!: www.su-city-pictures.com and www.su-city-pictures.blogspot.com.
To learn more about finding an agent, read Susan Kouguell's book The Savvy Screenwriter: How to Sell Your Screenplay (and Yourself) Without Selling Out!: www.su-city-pictures.com and www.su-city-pictures.blogspot.com. You can follow my Su-City Pictures, LLC Facebook fan page and SKouguell Twitter page to receive more Savvy Tips about how to write, structure, and sell your screenplay.