“For Screenwriters Only.. A Professor who claims to be a screenwiter gave me this advise.. she teaches a class?

Question by Leah: “For Screenwriters Only.. A Professor who claims to be a screenwiter gave me this advise.. she teaches a class?
“To me although she is in the buisness and teaches an on line class she sounds synical.. and acts like you have to be in contest to get an agent and that one must have a manager then an agent and no one is actually lucky to land an agent straight off.. We are talking about Wisconsin.. and they are the most backwards out of the loop state.. Can some spill some positive reality for me on what she has said.. ..who are doing this for a living.. based on when you started in the business.. Thanks

She Said This To Me Below:
A big reality check for you:

If you’re looking for any book or class that can guarantee you a sale, that’s going to be impossible. It’s a tough business. But yes, in my class, a couple of people have optioned and sold things. Carl Ames is one, and Martin McSweeney ended up at the top of the Page International contest and then that got him hired to write for BBC Television. Others have had their scripts read by actors at festivals. One guy who just finished is producing his own script written through the course.

To get produced and into the theater is almost impossible, UNLESS you plan to produce your own script and market it. That’s the reality.

Most of us do want to see our scripts in the theater, and so we try to get the attention of a producer, manager, or agent. Many writers will option material. That’s the first step toward that production. An option is a huge, huge thing in a writer’s life. It opens doors.

At the end of the course, if you’ve worked hard, the script is usually ready for the next step. I can’t think of a person who completed my course who wasn’t ready. They usually start pitching to Hollywood the minute they finish the class.

But nobody can guarantee that you’ll get an agent or sale.

There are no books on how to get an agent. Here’s why: An agent is usually the last thing you get. First a writer must get a producer or manager-producer to option the script. Then, if a sale to another bigger producer or studio looks imminent, the writer hires an agent (or a lawyer) to do the contract. Agents are there to do contracts. They’re the money people. It’s the producers, managers, and writers who go about finding the deals. At the A List level, yes, the agent is involved in finding some work for a person like Julia Roberts. But that’s not our level. But all writers try to get an agent and once in a while an agent will sign with you. It’s mighty rare, and usually you have to be recommended by somebody to get an agent, OR, you have to win a contest or something.

Agents and managers troll the contests. All writers know this. You can shun contests, but now you’ve just shunned agents by doing that. That’s a huge beginner mistake to think that way. Typically, agents and managers are inclined to look at the top 25 percent placements in a contest. That kind of finish goes in your pitch emails and so on.

Perhaps there’s a group you can join? Much of this is well-known among writers and you’d find it out at meetings, even online ones. Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum has an online chat board where you can ask questions. But you might also look at www.Hollywoodlistsales.com because I think they have a chat board, too. Also, other good places for info include Scriptapalooza, American Screenwriters Association, Nicholl’s Contest/Academy website, and John August’s website. Go to John’s site now and you’ll find tons of great info about the industry and writing. He’s a trusted guy among writers; he has good info.

Best wishes.


Best answer:

Answer by Colm
I actually think what she says is (although it might seem pessimistic) good advice. People should be aware that it is a hard profession to find success in, and overnight successes in any field are rare. The idea isn’t to put you off, but to make you aware that there is no guarantee to success, and to be prepared for some disappointment.

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