One way into a writing career is to make a splashy spec sale. However, it is rare and not the only way. Another way is to get a movie made, even a small movie with independent distribution. Every major agency in town (that would be L.A.) has a department to help you do this. They call it “packaging”. Packaging means taking a great script, finding a director, talent, money and distribution, and bringing them all together. Yes, that is what a producer is supposed to do, but the agencies realized some time ago that they have ready access to all the elements and can charge huge fees for doing the same thing as long as they don’t call themselves producers.

The rub is, there is tremendous competition for the attention of packaging agents just as there is for all other agents. However, unlike in ordinary spec sales, elements you bring to the table besides the script itself can help in packaging. For example, if you have interest from a bankable director, if you have raised part of the budget, or if you have interest from a bankable actor, you have a good chance of at least getting the project reviewed by a packaging agent. And remember, what is bankable to the indie market is much broader than what is bankable to the studios.

Packaging is particularly suited to quality scripts that can be made on a budget. Quality genre scripts are very popular for packaging. There is also a fairly strong market for schlock genre scripts, but because there are so many of these mediocre scripts out there, you really need to bring some other strong element to the table to get your mediocre script noticed.

The money for packaged scripts is typically not nearly as good as for studio projects, but you are launching a career. It pays to consider packaging as another avenue into the biz.

104 thoughts on “PACKAGING AGENTS”

  1. okay, here’s a hypothetical: what if you bring no additional elements to the table (attached director, referral, etc)? is it less difficult to get a packaging agent (or his people) to look at your script (assuming it’s high quality and low budget) than it would be to get another agent to read the script?

    let’s say, hypothetically, very high quality haunted house story – one main location, low budget, script has good coverage

  2. Alan:

    In my experience, it is equally difficult with no elements, at least until you’ve reached the point in your career where you have some personal relationships with the packaging agents. Even then, they will look at it, but without some element attached, they usually won’t do much to advance it. However, with an amazingly high quality script, it is not going to be that difficult to get either kind of agent to look at it and want to do something with it. Exceptional quality always speaks. If you feel your script is at that level, you want to find a referral into a packaging agent.

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  4. Thank you , great article.

    I want to persue a career as a pakaging agent. It is exactly what the combination of passions and skills would be awesome. But one must start somewhere, where is that?
    what skills would you need?
    Would you do this free lance, or be employed by a studio/network?

    Indeed, the industry could do with more of these (packaging agents), more projects could be “green lit”, sooner, and provide alternatives 4 filmmakers?

    I want to learn more, please advise…

    Thanks again, its valuable insight you are sharing

    Kindest Regards

  5. The main skill of a packaging agent is to know all the players, including financiers, distributors, reputable foreign sales agents, directors, and talent. The best way to get that knowledge is to work for an established packaging agent. Many packaging agents begin in the mail rooms of the major agencies or working the desk of an established packaging agent. The next best way is to work for or be an independent producer so that you are dealing with all of these same players regularly.

  6. I have a reality show idea that (of course) I believe to be bankable. How does one go about getting an agent for that?

    Thanks in advance.

  7. I have an idea for a reality show based on my current experience with legal system. It would follow my experience.
    ow do I get someone to consider it.

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  10. Once you have reached a packaging agent whose interested in your project, do you enter into a contract before they begin working with you? What fees are standard and how and when are those negotiated? Great article and useful info, thanks!!!

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