Jason Scoggins gives the heads up on what it takes to get representation.
- Great writing, and lots of it I’m looking for great writing. Being an effective manager is about creating and building a client’s career momentum over time, and sustaining that momentum as long as possible. If a writer has only one good writing sample there’s only so much I can do, so I look for 2 or 3 excellent pieces of material. I still consider writers with a single excellent script — great material is pretty hard to come by— but they’ll have to knock it out of the park in other ways for me to get excited about signing them.
- It’s as much WHAT you know as WHO you know The idea is to connect with people as quickly and organically as you can. Having the same knowledge base is a very useful place to start. Obviously, who you know is crucial. All of my clients have come to me through referrals. When I’m considering signing someone, I look for someone who’s a continuing student of the business. Someone who, long before their material started to get good, learned as much as they could about how the business works by getting a day job as an assistant, reading books, the trades and Hollywood-centric blogs, doing informational interviews, participating in entertainment career-oriented services, and so on. That tells me the person cares enough about their future career to spend time and energy preparing for it.
- Does The Writer Get It? You hear that phrase all the time in the business; the context is, if someone gets it, they’re worth getting to know (and maybe hiring someday). If they don’t, they’re not, in part because the last thing you want to do as a producer or development executive is risk your career by hiring someone who can’t do the job.
- Works and plays well with others This refers to the ability to develop material with collaborators. That skill is as important as the craft itself. It’s one thing to sit alone in a coffee shop and work solo on your magnum opus until you’re satisfied it’s ready to go out to the world. It’s quite another to write something according to someone else’s specifications. Yet the latter is the bread and butter of the working screenwriter. Being able to take notes and adjust the script accordingly is simply required. The tough part for me is that I can’t really tell whether a writer is going to be a good collaborator until I roll up my sleeves and start to work with them.
- Career commitment Finally, I’m looking for someone who understands how long it takes to launch and build a career as a screenwriter and is prepared for the long road ahead. I want to hear that the person literally can’t imagine anything besides writing for a living and is willing to put in the long, hard (and unpaid) hours required to get there. I could put together a long list of secondary traits that tell me someone could be worth representing (eg I like them personally, their material is potentially movies I’d like to go see, they’re self-confident, they listen well, they read insatiably, etc.) but if a potential client has all of the above, I know I’m on the right track.