I am interning for a well-known producer and one of my duties is to read incoming spec scripts and write coverage on them. Everything we read is submitted through agents – yet I am still shocked with how bad almost every script is. What I have trouble understanding is how agents believe these scripts are worthy of being sent out to major production companies. Do agents submit anything their clients write, or do they ever tell clients that they need to work on something a little longer before they’ll send it out?
As you’re learning, just because a writer has an agent doesn’t mean she has talent.
To the 99% of readers out there who want an agent, this must come as salt on the wound, but it’s true: really bad writers have agents. They write terrible scripts that people like Benjamin have to read.
Agents aren’t always the best judge of quality, frankly. After all, they aren’t the ones who have to work with writers on endless drafts. They aren’t editors, or critics. Their job is to keep their clients employed. The only way to do that is to get people to hire them, which necessitates having people read their work.
Of course, if a script is terrible, you’re not doing the writer any favors by forcing it out upon the town. But since the agent is neither critic nor editor, he doesn’t have much of a choice. He can politely suggest that the script might need more work in some places, but if the writer wants the script to go out, it’s the agent’s job to send it.
If you’re getting anything out of your internship, Benjamin, I hope it’s an appreciation for just how rare and wonderful good writing is. As you’re seeing, the Hollywood system isn’t designed to shut people out. It’s just that there’s so much crap to wade through, you have to limit how much you let get through the front door.