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Q.I've had no luck getting a producer to look at my script when I don't have an agent. But agents don't seem to be interested in new writers either. Help! 12/20/12

A. Yes, it's very frustrating, but there ARE ways around a system that seems designed to keep new talent out.

1. Startup or smaller agencies are hungrier for talent, and therefore more open to new writers than the top agencies. It's worthwhile to note that even if you're signed by a top agency, you'll be a small fish in a big pond--given less attention than the bigger fish. The Writers Guild of America West has a list of agencies on its website, noting those that will accept unsolicited scripts. Focus on those in Greater Los Angeles including Santa Monica and Beverly Hills.

DO NOT send or email your script. Send a query--and send it to a specific person at the agency. You can find names of agents in the Hollywood Representation Directory. A good tip: if the agency doesn't list agents in alpha order, then their top agents (whose plates are already filled with A list clients) will appear at the top of the list. These agents have little inclination to sign newbies. However, the agents near the bottom of the list will likely be newer, hungrier, and more open to new talent. Those are the agents on which you should focus your attention.

2. Another way to break past the barriers is to get a recommendation from someone close to an agent or producer. We all tend to trust recommendations from someone whose opinion we respect. Identifying and contacting a trusted associate of an agent or producer often isn't as daunting as you might think.

You've probably heard that anyone can be "connected" to anyone else through six people or less (spawning one fun diversion, "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon"). Try asking your friends and relatives if they might know anyone even vaguely connected to the industry. Lawyers, doctors, friends of friends, a distant relative, etc. Ask permission to contact that person, then ask the contact if there's anyone they might know who could help you reach your targeted agent/producer. Call whoever the contact recommends and ask them the same question, moving up the "food chain" until you reach your target.

3. Managers may or may not be able to get your script read. Some fulfill the function agents used to in nurturing talent and offering advice. Others may have their own contacts willing to read your script. If you decide to go this route, talk with the prospective manager and be sure you understand what he/she is able to do for you.

4. Be creative. Conventions such as ComicCon are places to meet writers and decision makers. So are fan websites where writers and producers interact with fans. One client parlayed her incisive postings and interactions with series writers on a fan website into a script coordinating position on the show, where she later became a staff writer.

5. Be wary of online services that offer to read your script for a fee and pass it along to an agent or producer if marketable. Often you're told the script needs more work, and you're offered additional services to help fix the problems--for another fee.

Read the previous email, Making Chamaracter Motivation Clear

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The ScriptSmith Script Consulting - Screenplay & TV Script Consultant
Updated December 23, 2012
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