If you don’t yet have an agent or manager, here’s a quick list of some things you need to know.
1. Many writers get their first breaks without an agent or manager, but having the right agent and/or manager sure helps.
2. The best and only way to find the right agent and/or manager is to write very well. Good writing always attracts attention. Attention gets you to a good agent and/or manager. If you don’t know how that works, you probably haven’t been writing enough yet.
3. The best way to submit material to an agent or manager is through a referral. The best way to get a referral is to write well. (See previous item.)
4. Real agents don’t charge to read your material. Run away from the ones who do.
5. In Hollywood, agents are regulated by law and union agreement. They charge a 10% commission to shop your scripts. You only pay if the script sells.
6. Managers are different than agents. Managers are not regulated by law or union contract. Their fees vary, but real managers also only get paid if the script sells.
7. Technically, managers are not allowed to solicit employment for you, but they manage your career. In practice, managers always solicit employment for you.
8. Like a good agent, a good manager is a great ally, but anyone can call him or herself a manager. Make sure the manager has clients who sell scripts or get writing assignments on a regular basis.
9. Real managers also do not charge fees to read your material. Run away from ones who do.
Don’t freak on the agent/manager thing. Just work on the writing. The agent/manager will come.
Instead of crabbing that you will never break into Hollywood because of the strike (which is bunk), spend the time writing and reading! Both Universal and Miramax are allowing you to download screenplays for their Oscar-hopefuls.
Miramax has pdf versions of: “No Country For Old Men”; “The Diving Bell And The Butterfly”; “Hoax”; and “Gone Baby Gone” available here. When you get to the Miramax site, you have to dig the scripts out by clicking on the poster and looking for the link.
Don’t wait. Who knows how long they will keep these up? This is a terrific collection of scripts that cannot do anything but help you write. Download them, read them, all. (I will do the same.)
This is a picky technical script question I just can’t seem to resolve on my own.
When writing with the reader in mind, suppose you have the early appearance of a character who must remain a mystery to the viewing audience, until later. Do you use the actual character name of the character at that point in the script, thereby spoiling it for the reader?
For instance, in Dickens Christmas Carol, the ghost of Jacob Marley shows up in Act I, but suppose his identity was to remain unclear to the audience until he made a return in Act III, Would the character in Act I be something like GHOST, to be cleared up later? And once it is known by all who he is, would we continue with GHOST or transition to MARLEY or GHOST/MARLEY or handle it some other way ?
Bryan from USA
This is a common question to which there is no good answer. There is no hard and fast rule other than this: DO NOT CONFUSE YOUR READER. Anything you do which confuses the reader is a bad thing and readers are easily confused. They are usually under a great deal of pressure to push through your script. If they have to stop and go back to understand something, you have already lost the battle.
Given that one golden rule, you are already damned by the mere existence of this character. Nevertheless, if it is important to your story, you need to pick one of the less-than-perfect solutions and use it. You are probably better to transition to GHOST/MARLEY, but even then, you may lose the readers later when they see only MARLEY. If MARLEY is the only ghost, you might even continue to call him GHOST even once his name is revealed. After all, he is still a ghost.
I received emails from a couple new bloggers recently letting me know they exist. Thought I’d pass it on to you….
Ken Levine, tv comedy writer/director with credits including M*A*S*H, Simpsons, Becker and Everybody Loves Raymond has a new blog called “by Ken Livine”.
Xander Bennett, a TV writer from Australia, also has an interesting new blog, Chained To The Keyboard.