LB: Stop Asking Me How To Get an Agent, Dammit!

Glad You Asked Department 6/3/13

question_ditkoToday’s question is one I’ve answered a million and a half times before, in three million different places. I used to say it was the second most-asked question I got, right behind, “How did you get started?” Over the past few months, though, it’s bounded over its rival to become Number One.

In other words, our topic for today, as proposed by Dennis and Emily and Katrina and Rob and Tyrese and Jason and Sarah and two or three entire generations of talented and intelligent new writers is:

“How do I get an agent?”

And my answer, after swirling this issue around in my brain and doing my best to discard old mind sets and get right to where I am now on the agent thing is:

Enough already! You’re driving me crazy!

You’re putting the cart before the horse because you’re worried about selling your products – your writing and yourselves – before having fully developed either of them. And it doesn’t work that way.

Can’t work that way.

Shouldn’t work that way.

An agent’s job is to get your work out to potential buyers and employers. That means that the first thing you should be asking yourself is, “Am I ready to go to work? Is my writing good enough to be exposed not only to producers but to the audience? If I get a job, will I excel at it?”

What I’m getting at here is that the first thing any writer needs in order to “make it” is the talent/skill/craft to make a genuine contribution to the field. In order to attract an agent you’ll need writing samples that prove that fact to anyone who reads them -no matter how closed-minded or incompetent he or she may be.

Before you can even think about putting on your armor and going out to change the universe you have to be absolutely certain that you’re the planet’s best writer of whatever it is you write and that anyone who reads your work will recognize that immediately.

You can’t merely be “close” to a professional level, or “as good as” those who are working professionally. You’ve got to be better.

That’s not as easy as those of you who watch a lot of TV and film may think. The Old Pros know their stuff, and the shows, and even scripts marked final draft, usually don’t reflect the true ability of the writers whose place you’re trying to take.

The shows and final drafts are what’s left after the executives and assistants and focus groups and budget committees have worked what I sometimes think of as their Evil Magic.

Sure, the rewrite and production processes often improve ”understandability” and “produceability,” but they also diminish the meaning and passion behind it in the process.

In sitcoms the humor itself can suffer when dialog is completely rewritten on taping day because the stars are tired of saying what they’ve been rehearsing. It sounds stale to them, so they demand new jokes, which are worse than those they replace because they’re written on the spur of the moment.

In action and drama shows dialog gets changed so it’s easier for the actor to say it while moving from point A to point B (or nursing his hangover), and these changes also are spur of the moment. The most ignominious blow of all occurs if a director falls behind in a shoot. Pages literally are ripped out of the script and story continuity vanishes as a result.

All these changes are in the final drafts and revised pages new writers often get to read and in what everyone sees on the air. The good stuff – hell, the often brilliant stuff – gets lost in the earlier, buried versions of the scripts.

But take it from me, it’s there…and you’ve got to do better than that because otherwise who needs you instead of that writer over there we already know? You’ve got to create dynamic characters and stories that make readers gasp – and exhibit it in a body of work.

The next time you start worrying about getting an agent, take a look at yourself and make sure your product is ready. Do you have material you can whip out of your briefcase and confidently hand to any agent or producer or exec? Do you have at least three perfect scripts finished and ready to shoot?

If not, then get to it. Read. Study. Maybe take a class. But most of all–

WRITE AS THOUGH YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT.

Because if you’re really a writer…it does.

Thanks for asking,

LB

My purpose here is to help as many undiscovered creative geniuses as possible. But I can’t answer if you don’t ask. So send your questions and make everyone’s day!

Amazon Invests Millions In Original TV Shows To Get You To Buy More Diapers

Speaking of corporate plots (ah, paranoia! how we love you!), here’s a commonsense look at the thinking behind Amazon.Com’s move into TV/video production.

buy-buyby Timothy Stenovec

Netflix. Hulu Plus. And now, Amazon.

The world’s largest online retailer is joining its streaming video peers and betting millions of dollars on creating original content.

Beginning later this year, Amazon Prime members — customers who’ve paid $79 for a year of free two-day shipping on millions of items as well as digital access to Amazon’s library of movies, TV shows and ebooks — will be able to watch several new TV shows the company is producing.

But unlike Netflix and Hulu Plus, Amazon’s goal, analysts said, is beyond simply getting revenue from subscriptions. The retailer may well be using expensive original content to lure more people to its Prime membership service, so they’ll be more likely to purchase products like cameras, books and K-Cups.

“Content is king,” Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group and the author of “What’s the Future of Business,” said in an email. “In an increasingly distributed consumption economy, Amazon is betting that content creates a bridge between Amazon, its products and services, and customers.”

According to a report from Morningstar, the investment research firm, Prime members shop more frequently than non-members, spend twice as much annually and tend to buy more expensive products.

Amazon won’t disclose how many people have coughed up for the annual Prime subscription. Morningstar puts that number at around 10 million. And Prime’s loyal membership is predicted to grow to 25 million by 2017.

“It’s pretty clear that there’s been an emphasis on adding Prime memberships over the last four years,” said R.J. Hottovy, the director of consumer cyclical and defensive research at Morningstar and the lead analyst on the report. He said Amazon’s foray into original content is “not only a way to keep the current Prime customers happy, but also drive a wider audience to the service.”

Read it all

Entertainment as a way to gather a crowd in order to sell it something isn’t new. It’s been with us since the dawn of civilization. And as writers we’re always happy to see new markets opening up, especially markets that don’t seem to be run by the same Old Media gatekeepers. But, c’mon, Amazon, can’t you give us something better than the dreck you recently ordered? We’ll buy more. We promise.

(Our lawyers made us do it dept.: Um, we’re speaking for TVWriter™ here, not for our beloved visitors.)

Oh, wait, that could be a lie too…

Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 6/3/13

Latest News About Writers Who Are Doing Better Than We Are

  • John Glenn (EAGLE EYE) has made an overall development deal with Universal Television. (Because he came very close with several pilots in the most recent pilot season and Uni is convinced that he’ll strike gold for them this time.)
  • Tim Schlattmann (DEXTER) has a new development deal with Warner Brothers TV for a couple of projects, one for broadcast TV and one for cable. (We don’t know what’s going on here, but we gotta love a writer whose credits range from ROSEANNE to DEXTER via SMALLVILLE. Can’t say this dude isn’t versatile.)
  • Meredith Averill (the upcoming series STAR-CROSSED) has signed an overall deal with CBS TV Studios, having risen from the ranks, where she began as a producer’s assistant. (And now she’s a showrunner. Our little girl’s all growed up. Sigh…)
  • The GRUMPY CAT movie is going forward at Broken Road, which produced STATE OF THE UNION, among other feature films. (Proving that you can’t keep a good meme down. Or in this case, a bad meme. Come to think of it, can there in fact be a “good” meme? Hmm…)
  • Eli Attie (HOUSE) is joining the new series MIND GAMES as a writer-executive producer. (Because before HOUSE he was a writer for some guy named Barack Obama, and if the White House isn’t a place where you can become expert at mind games, no place is.)

Matt Smith to quit Doctor Who after Christmas special

When we prepared the post that follows this one, about the DOCTOR WHO plot generator, we had no idea that this particularly sad news was coming. We’re too choked up – for reals – to write anything about this – sob – ourselves. So:

MattSmith_DoctorWhoby Claire Duffin

He will bow out in the Christmas special when he will be replaced by a new incarnation of the Time Lord.

Smith, 30, who has been in the role since 2010, said it had been “an honour” to play the part.

He said: “Doctor Who has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans of the show.

“I’m incredibly grateful to all the cast and crew who work tirelessly every day, to realise all the elements of the show and deliver Doctor Who to the audience.

“Many of them have become good friends and I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the last four years.”

Read it all

How to Plot Your DOCTOR WHO Spec

You are going to write one, aren’t you? Everyone who loves the Doctor ends up going in the fanfic direction one way or another. (Which brings up the question: Why doesn’t TVWriter™ get more DOCTOR WHO scripts in our Spec Scriptacular contest? What’s the trub, bub?)

Well, before you sit down to do the deed, we suggest you hie thyselves over to US vsTH3M and take advantage of the best story generator in town:

Click Pic to go to the Doctor Who Story Generator
Click Pic to go to the Doctor Who Story Generator

Oh, and while you’re at it, look at the rest of the awesomeness on the site. We luvs us a twisted POV, and US vsTH3M definitely has one.