Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A few general thoughts on reps

Having a rep is amazing, but as I learned last time I had a manager, it does not guarantee any kind of success. Their job is to give you opportunities. Your job is to make the most of those opportunities.

Reps sign you on because they think you can make them money. They can get your career going. The few I've dealt with have struck me as people who love getting excited about working with someone they believe has talent, and that excitement is contagious. Your job, as an unrepped writer, is to get that excitement going over you.

But there are different kinds of reps. If you don't know about hip pocketing, that's when the rep doesn't do any work on your behalf, but if you need someone to submit for you, they'll do it. So let's say you're at a party and you meet a studio exec. You pitch him an idea, he likes it, tells your rep to send it over. That's when you call your hip pocketing agent to send that requested script over. And maybe if he likes you enough, or if you show signs of promise, he'll decide to fully represent you.

Any "agent" or "manager" who wants money up front is a fraud. Period. I don't care how much they gush over you. They are full of shit and you shouldn't do business with them.

There are plenty of stories of reps who sign a writer then forget about them. It happens quite a lot, actually. But as a very successful A-lister once told me, a rep who never calls is not a rep. If you end up with a rep who hasn't contacted you in months, break it off. They're not interested in you. Remember the excitement the like to feel? As soon as they lose that sense of excitement, you've lost them.

But it's not the end of the world if you have to fire a rep, even if you have to go back to being without one for a while. Sometimes it's not a good fit. I know plenty of successful writers who've been through three or four reps until they found the right one, and I know successful writers who stuck with the first one they landed. It's different for everybody.

But the important thing is, no matter who is representing you, keep working. Bust your ass, do what they say, and maybe you can keep that excitement going. That's where I am now: busting my ass to take advantage of the opportunities I'm being given.


  1. You. Are. Good.

    Rubbing my hands in anticipation of more of your insight and insider stories. All done safely of course: here's my eyewink. Vigilance!

  2. Emily:

    HIP POCKETING...I've got to ask you-

    [1] How do agents feel about doing this sort of thing? Do they like the no strings attached aspect; do they think it eats up their time?

    [2] Do they read the whole script first?

    [3] Will they send it where you want, or is this their call?

    [4] Does the writer pay a fee?

  3. It does not cost you money, I can tell you that. Any rep who charges you is a fraud. They do read the script. They wouldn't agree to hip pocket unless they saw potential. They only send the script if it's been specifically requested. I don't know if they like it. Some agents refuse to do it, some do it all the time.

  4. sidebar: Gosh that kitten is so cute.

    Emily, if it's not too personal...how many years have you been writing? ...and how long did it take you before you felt like you're writing reached a professional level?

  5. I wrote my first short story when I was 9. I wrote my first screenplay when I was 20. So I've been writing forever, really. I have a masters in creative writing.

    I think I decided I didn't suck about 4 years ago.

  6. If I had a time machine, I would go back and start writing when I was 3. Write 50 scripts by the time I was 12. :)

    If you were going to advise a fellow writer on how to develop the fastest, what would you say that would be? I am always curious about how excellent writers develop so quickly.

  7. It's taken me my whole life to get to this point, and I still haven't sold anything, so I'm not sure I'm the best person to ask, but....

    Nothing has done more for my writing than maintaining this blog. The simple act of writing every day has killed writers block and improved my speed and sense of voice exponentially. I'm not saying you have to start a blog, but write every day if you can.

  8. Actually, you're the perfect person to ask. You've gone much further than you think. 99.9999997 % of writers will never get to where you are. Those reps you signed with are pretty high on the food chain and not just middling dime store reps you see that populate the directory. It takes a tremendous amount of mastery of hard to integrate screenwriting principles to even get repped at that level.

    Speaking on the topic of reps, just from my perspective, it seems like you work for them... rather than the other way around. As far as changing reps or firing reps, I'm always afraid that would be burning a bridge in Hollywood as these guys move around a lot. I didn't have quite the great experience...signed with a pretty well known rep a while back when I wasn't ready and didn't have the fundamental skills to rewrite... and flamed out. the hubris of youth. :) Now, back to earth, I realize that I better learn this stuff from the ground up.

    Anyhoo, you should have a "pet yourself on the back Emily day." There's no greater feeling than to accomplish a milestone in your dream.


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