There is so much conflicting advice and no definitive answers on whether one should adamantly seek an agent or try alternative methods such as networking and pitching to industry personnel in the hope that you will get lucky with a script sale.The whole system makes me wonder though. Writers create something from a death-defying blank page and the agent takes a bite out of it. So why does the writer always have to be the one to impress an agent? How about the other way round where the agent has to demonstrate how writers can benefit from hiring them as a representative. After all it is the agents who make a percentage from the writer’s talent. I have yet to come across an enticing agent with a bright enthusiastic approach. So why is it they are always looking for not only brilliant writing samples, but also a writer with an equally electric personality? Surely, it is meant to be a partnership, and I certainly would not want to be in alliance with an agent who cannot equalize my current.
I have met several agents at various events and generally they give the same advice; ‘hone in on your writing skills’ they say. I am honing. I hone regularly. I hone with reverence. I accept the honing process is an infinite task, or tragedy, depending on how you look at it. But deep down inside we all know the truth. Screenplays sold and produced did not get there because of brilliant writing honed to perfection. Success is an outcome of great tenacity, an industry connection, or being in the right time at the right place scenario. Perhaps it’s time to ease off the honing and get networking…
A link to a great article on agents by an established screenwriter Ashley Scott Meyers.
Yes. As writers we begin to financially invest in our careers the moment we buy the correct software for screenwriting. Then we may even spend money on attending events, hiring consultants and books. So why cut back on something imperative as copyright especially if you believe, feel and know that your script is going to be the next blockbuster. Some writers choose the age old method of posting or emailing a copy of their work to themselves. This is all fine, but it won’t hurt to do that little extra and register your script with The Writers Guild or even better the US Copyright Office. The following article explains the benefits http://www.writersstore.com/wgaw-registration-vs-copyright-registration/
There is an interesting story in Ken Rotcop’s ‘The Perfect Pitch’ about copyright infringement by a well known company in Hollywood who stole a story idea. They hired a writer to pen a complete script based on a pitch. From what I can remember, the project went into production and of course the lady who had pitched the story found out and decided to take legal action. She had her script registered and without doubt was able to prove ownership. To cut a long story short, the production company settled out of court paying her a sum of around $8 million which they could have quite easily avoided by purchasing the script for much less, not even having to go anywhere near the million range.
However, this type of thing rarely happens. The studios and big boys apparently have enough dosh to buy you, and your script. The small production companies with barely enough finance to finish off a movie, well I guess it wouldn’t really matter if they stole your idea because the chances are it probably won’t materialize onto the screen.
Nevertheless, it is still a wise move to copyright your work. $20 to $40 investment is a small price to pay for peace of mind. It’s also a good idea to keep a database on verbal pitches; who, when and what you pitched, along with supporting documents, email, letters and faxes. This could prove invaluable in case you needed to make a claim for copyright infringement, but it is also a great way of keeping a record of your activities to save you from duplicating your pitch or query letter to the same production company.
“All I ask is the chance to prove that money can’t make me happy”. Spike Milligan