I went to a book signing at Samuel French, a Hollywood bookstore. Three writers were there with their screenwriting books. I had them sign my books and I talked to all of them. I read their books and wrote a fawning fan letter to two of them, Linda Seger and Carl Sautter. Hidden amongst the gushing I asked them the same question, how do I get an agent?
Carl Sautter read my stuff, said he liked it and suggested I send it to his agent. I did. She was…well, really rather cunty about it. But he and I continued to correspond, and proved to be a good source of advice and encouragement.
Linda Seger read my script. Of course, I paid her to do it. Script analysis. Which sounds like a rip-off, but it was actually quite helpful. Her notes and her insight helped make the script better and she passed the script onto several agents and some development people. And that’s how I got my first agent.
Moral: Get to know people who have agents.
My agent wasn’t getting me any work. I entered a new spec script in the Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship competition – a script my agent didn’t like, a script that had gotten an insulting pass on at Universal. (The executive was looking for something more like BIRD ON A WIRE!) I won the Nicholl, firing my first agent as soon as I became a finalist. I got over fifty phone calls the week I won and one of those was my new agent.
Moral: Enter any (reputable) contest.
My second agent became a manager. The next agent I got was through someone I ran into at a New Years’ party. We’d met years earlier. She was in development and had luckily attended the party with her ex-boyfriend. I listened to her heartache and she listened to me talk about a script I was writing. Later, she read it and recommended me to my next agent.
Moral: Be nice to people who can be nice to you later.