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Posts Tagged ‘agents’

So today was spent working on the new version of the trailer for the web channel I work on.   Obviously I thoroughly resented having to come up with something new after spending a day on the project but I must admit I probably prefer the new version to the old one.  For one thing it is a lot simpler to film, which gives half a chance of the final project resembling what I envisaged when I wrote out.  I still bear the scars from a radio sketch I wrote many years ago: it was supposed to open like an old Universal horror movie – wind, rain, the crash of thunder, the creaking of a massive and ancient door, the sepulchral sounds of an organ echoing among the buildings ancient stones – but when I tuned in to hear it  I got the pitter-patter of a light shower, a squeaky hinge and the sound of a Stylophone, from there on in the sketch lacked a certain something, to my ears at least.

With that job out of the way (barring re-writes) and a bunch of sample sketches ready to head off to a “major independent comedy production company”, it looks like I’ve managed to get the deadlines I mentioned last week out of the way.  This means on the one hand that I have no immediate revenue streams in site but on the other that I have room to crack on with those other projects I mentioned.  Indeed, I’ve got some additional motivation in that area as my agent has asked me to knock out a chapter of “the novel” for her to pass on to a literary agent.  I find this both thrilling and intimidating.  The novel is dear to my heart, coming as it does from a project I’ve long had in mind and which my old agent dismissed out of hand (after making me produce three, increasingly lengthy, treatments for it over a period of some 9 months) – thus if I can get any success out of it I have the double benefit of it being one in the eye for my former agent.  This may seem petty but, given that the last time I saw her she wandered up to me at a party and called me a complete shit for having had a play commissioned by Radio 3 shortly after dispensing with her services, I think I can be allowed a bit of pettiness.

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Special Agent

Reluctant though I am to admit it, it’s been a good day.  I’ve managed to get to grips with the promo I had to write, bunged out assorted emails, done some work on the novel and even had the chance to laugh in the face of the tax man’s payment reminder, though admittedly this is only due to the fact I earned so little last year that this time the taxman has to pay me.  Plus my excellent agent has put me onto a new sketch show that’s looking for writers.  Now, obviously, the show sounds pretty ghastly, with the kind of paper-thin premise you know means it’s heading straight to BBC3, but it’s still the chance of some cash, which I will of course, use to fund the revolutionary opus I know I have in me.  Besides, which, if the Beeb are happy to bung out Little Miss Jocelyn on BBC2, even a sketch show based on one man banging his head against a bed of nails for half an hour would have a pretty good prospect of making its way to terrestrial.

As I say, I owe this extra earning prospect to my present agent.  Having a good agent is a new experience for me and one I’m thoroughly enjoying.  Having a good agent is also one of the most vital things for a career in writing (after small matters like having some basic level of talent … and the fact I have had any kind of career at all might suggest that not even that is necessary).  The most vital thing however, in my experience at least, is not having a bad agent.  A bad agent can put your career on hold quicker than Virgin Broadband’s technical support line.  How can you spot a bad agent?  Here are some vital signs:

  1. Look at the agent’s client list – if most of the people on it last had a big hit with a cheerfully racist sitcom written in the late 70s, now is the time to move on.
  2. Look at the client list again – if you can only identify a couple more names beyond those of the racist sitcom writers, and both those names belong to people who “might have played … y’know, that guy in the bar … in that film with the thing … y’know” then this is another reason to worry.
  3. On the other hand, if your agent has got a lot of really good clients, is he or she always too busy to take your call due to being off at “Stephen’s latest premiere … so witty.  Now, you’re the one with that little play about the … no don’t tell me, it’ll come to me, I’m sure“?
  4. Whenever you phone your agent, is he or she always out “at lunch” even when it’s gone five-thirty in the afternoon?
  5. Whenever you meet, does your agent always have a misty look in his or her eyes and a large and rapidly-draining glass in hand?
  6. Is your agent’s idea of feedback a note saying “‘there’ is spelt as ‘their’ on page 118?
  7. When you mention your agent’s name to other agents/producers/writers, do their faces suddenly take on a resemblance to Edvard Munch’s The Scream?
  8. Have you been paid anything for that work you did 6 months ago?
  9. When you go to meet your agent, is his or her desk covered with unopened mail from various production companies, postmarked more than 6 months ago, that may well contain cheques?
  10. Or, worse still, is your agent currently “holidaying” in a country with which the UK has no extradition treaty, with no plans to return?

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