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Wednesday 16 October 2013

The Other Side of the Fence

In case you haven't picked it up via Twitter or any of the other social media, I have an offspring in the business - her name's Ellen Gallagher and she's to be found in the Film and TV department of London's Blake Friedmann Agency. And if you're a screenwriter with questions that call for an agency perspective then she's started a series of blog posts to tackle them here.

While you'd think it an obvious choice of career for a writer's kid, it was anything but. It's not like a merchant bank, I didn't have a word and get her in. It was basic office skills picked up while working for a machine parts supplier that led the way into film company PA work. Which in turn led to opportunities to take on some of the workload of the development department. A stint with Scott Free, a year with Hammer, some fringe festival and feature work, and now this.

You'll get a different angle from anything I can offer you. Advice from a writer often takes the form of "Here's how I'd do it," which is rarely what you most need to hear. Feedback from an industry-trained reader will tell you when you're missing your targets, or when you're making rookie mistakes that scupper the impression you're trying for. Except that agencies aren't set up to give feedback. So if this is the kind of thing you need to know, get your questions in while you can:
You need several scripts in your 'arsenal', as an agent will want to feel that you're interested in a career, not just 'selling a script' as a one-off. The number of submissions I see that begin with 'I need your help to sell my script...' or 'I'm looking for an agent to represent my script...' - that's a red flag to agents. Since we're going to be building a professional relationship with YOU, not your script, we want to feel that you take your writing career seriously and want to do more in the future than just one project - we want to feel that you've got a career in mind rather than 15 minutes of fame. 
I like to think that growing up in a writing household may have provided some usable insight but as far as advantages go, that's been it.

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