How to Be a Script Agent

As a script agent, you must be tenacious.

As a script agent, you must be tenacious.

Maybe you want to be a script agent because you love film and you want to be a part of the magic; or maybe you've become so disillusioned with the state of modern cinema, you just know you could find a better story than the last one you paid $15 to see. Becoming a successful script agent requires a keen understanding of story, the ability to predict trends in the industry, and an almost-scary level of tenacity.

Go to school. Script agents come from a variety of backgrounds, but degrees in English literature, playwriting, dramaturgy, screenwriting and creative writing are particularly well suited to an agent's job. Because agents must understand the potential of a story in the marketplace, above all else, a degree in a literary field can help you understand the fundamentals of story structure, and what qualities make a story sell. Since a large part of your job will be selling those stories, degrees in creative management, marketing and business management are also good programs.

Gain experience. Potential script agents gain experience in many ways. An internship for a talent agency is a great way to get your foot in the door. As an intern or assistant, you will always want to be on high alert, seeking out promising new writers or material. Your advancement to junior -- then senior -- agent is dependent on the hot properties you champion. Obtaining an entry-level position at a literary agency, publishing house or film production studio is another great way to gain experience and contacts. Major publishing houses, like HarperCollins and Random House, have film divisions for the purpose of mainlining their new material to production houses in Hollywood. On her personal blog, professional literary agent Rachelle Gardner emphasizes the importance of a "willingness to keep up with rapidly changing technologies," including film and new media, as part of your agent education.

Seek out writers. Read books, short stories, essays, feature articles, op-eds, blogs and Twitter feeds. Scour YouTube and Vimeo. Attend plays and film festivals. Anywhere writers are, you want to be. As reported in "Entertainment Weekly," Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody was discovered online when talent manager Mason Novick came across her blog. Self-published author Hugh Howie explains in a piece for Indiereader.com how customer reviews alone garnered Hollywood agent attention. Finding material and writers you believe in will help motivate you to make your first sale.

Network in the film industry. Even though there are standard channels for passing a script around Hollywood, the Internet has made many of those channels obsolete. The adage "It's all about who you know" is an adage for a reason. Spend time attending industry events, like American Film Market, and major festivals, like Tribeca and Sundance, with the goal of networking with directors, producers, actors and managers. These are the people who will be buying your clients' scripts, so you'll want to be on a first-name basis with them.

 

About the Author

Maureen Green has been a writer and editor for more than 10 years. She has worked with print publications such as "Script" magazine, as well as various websites and small businesses. Green has also been teaching composition online to adult, military and ESL learners since 2008.

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