I’m going to blame TV and film! All those stories with an agent finding work for treasured actors, taking their career in hand and helping them make money – that’s the holy grail! That’s why I want an agent – to put my name in lights!
My dawning realisation is that this is not what agents do, at least not for Scriptwriters. http://www.screenwritinggoldmine.com recently ran a forum which Matthew Bates, of Sayle Screen Limited, contributed the agents perspective. The majority of questions were:
“How do I get an agent?”
His response (paraphrased): “Word of mouth.”
"Yeah, but how do I get an agent?"
"Word of mouth."
(not hooked by my logline, but his time and input was still much appreciated)
That is so wrong! All the information is there! I’ve just been too stupid to register it.
An agent isn’t a silver bullet, there to get you launched and into the world. An agent is there once you’ve made it – or something anyway. They read contracts and protect your interest, and as importantly, they are your advocate, to get your foot in the door to opportunities that we can’t access.
This sounds like the beginning of the vicious circle again – but how do I get anything made, without an agent???
The answers I’m working out are via sheer graft and front. This excellent festival (video from last year) http://www.londonscreenwritersfestival.com/ has great advice, and it’s along the lines of:
Make films on cheap equipment, and spam YouTube. Join writers forums, blogs and writing groups. Go to networking events and introduce yourself… get training and network… enter competitions – get off my lazy arse and pound the streets, then the agents come to you.
Funnily enough this isn’t a demoralising realisation. I was a bit depressed when I thought my way in was through an agent… now I see it in reverse, it no longer seems so impossible. I just need to de-Anglicise myself, removing the innate self-deprecation (“Hello, I’m a bit of a writer, but I’m not very good”), make sure I have a bloody good portfolio of work, and keep hitting the avenues I do have access to – BBC, Script competitions and Raindance (that pitch fest is terrifying… er, maybe I can get an actor mate to do it for me?)
Oh, I shall of course still try for an agent! Everyone says the scatter gun approach doesn't work, but I think a duck filled with shot would disagree with that!