I haven’t got an agent and for the most part I’m not really bothered. I have a plan, I have a strategy to follow and I’m vaguely heading in the right direction at frustrating speeds so it’s all well and good. At the moment I get paid for everything I write and I get to write pretty much what I feel like in any genre or style without too much interference.
In short, my writing life is pretty peachy.
Every now and then I get this vague pang of guilt for not having an agent, kind of like I need one in order to be a real writer. When that feeling of self-doubt strikes I make a halfhearted effort to send something to the first agent I think of … and I get rejected.
This happens about once every two years or so and is to be expected. The chances of picking one agent at random and them liking your work is pretty small. The best way is to make a concerted effort, do your research and specifically target agents who match your preferred style/genre/oeuvre (isn’t that French for egg?) or whatever. Merely pointing at another writer, thinking ‘I want his career’ and spamming his agent isn’t really the best way to go about these things.
But never mind. The rejection fires me up, indignant rage burns off the paralysing blanket self-doubt and I just carry on writing. I have this (possibly ill-conceived) idea that sooner or later someone will just ring me up and offer me representation. In fact, I think it might have just happened; but I was inadvertently rude to the guy and he hasn’t been back in touch.
Oh well, fuck it.
The question is, do I actually need an agent? What do they actually do for you? Okay, so if I was hell-bent on getting into TV then they might be useful for putting me forward – but I’m not that bothered. There isn’t really anything on TV I desperately feel like writing for (except Doctor Who and maybe The Sarah Jane Adventures) and at the moment I’m having too much fun with movies to concentrate on learning new skills. I have plenty of ideas for TV shows but rarely have the time to write them down – if I did, I have a handful of contacts I could send ideas to and I know they’d be happy to read them. They might think they’re shit, but they’d be happy to read them.
Movie wise, yeah, I’m doing fine. I have enough work for the rest of the year and probably the beginning of next year – I haven’t had to generate any work for myself for a while because of repeat custom and random emailers; and the only time I’ve recently expressed a vague interest in a spec project I find myself signing a contract for it a few months later.
I suppose the only thing I’d be looking for in an agent (apart from maybe approaching TV people on my behalf when I’m ready) is negotiating contracts – I fucking hate the whole thing. I mean, it’s not difficult (or at least I don’t think it is. I’ve been doing my own for years now and I still have both kidneys and all of my many pounds of flesh) but it’s fucking tedious and I have very limited interest. I’m kind of like Will Ferrell’s character in Austin Powers – talk about the same clause three times and I just give up.
“Oh, so if the Option is exercised, to make such reasonable amendments to Assignment A and the documents set out in Exhibit 2 as the Purchaser’s distributors or financiers may require then I don’t fucking care! I just don’t! Whatever you fucking want, just leave me alone in my box with my imaginary friends!”
Having someone to read the small print and be an obstreperous cunt during negotiations would be rather helpful, but is that a good enough reason for wanting an agent? But still, there’s that small nagging voice – real writers have agents. I don’t have an agent therefore …
And then there’s the Screenwriting Festival Speed Dating thing. Can I be bothered to apply? Do I actually want three face to face meetings with agents? Assuming I won a place, which I probably wouldn’t. Would I just be wasting their time and taking up space which could be allocated to be people who are desperately pursuing representation?
I had a look at the application process and figured I had nothing really to lose until I got to the question about ‘genre of your project’ – what project? I’m not trying to push one project on anyone, I have a raft of things going on all the time and want that to continue forever. Can I just put ‘all’? I know this is so they can match the lucky winners up with suitable agents, but I’m quite happy bouncing around from one genre to the next – conventional wisdom says you can’t carve out a career like this because people won’t think of you as the ‘western guy’ or the ‘comedy guy’ … but I don’t care. I’m enjoying myself and don’t want to specialise just yet.
I’ve decided to leave it in your hands. My questions are:
- Those of you with agents, do you find them useful and have they helped your career?
- Should I enter this speed dating draw or not?
Someone please make some decisions for me, I’m far too busy and only have a limited interest in my own well being.