How To Get A Screenwriting Agent And Manager by Lee Jessup

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Film Courage:  Does the screenwriter find themselves an agent or does the work find them the agent?

Lee Jessup:  In a perfect world, the way that we’d love to see it work is your script comes in as a finalist for the Nichol [Fellowship].  Every manager and agent in town reaches out to you.  Boom!  You have a manager or an agent, right?  You win the UCLA contest.  Very much the same scenario.  Austin Film Festival, etc.  That is not always the scenario.

The scenario for most writers is they are going to work very hard to find a rep.  It’s usually going to be a manager first.  Because a manager really today serves as talent scouts for the big agencies.  And it’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of diligence and a lot of consistency to find that rep.


“So oftentimes it ends up being the writer finding the rep, rather than the rep finding the writer. 


So (for example) one of my writers who just got signed a couple of months ago had this group of managers and agents that she would approach every time she would finish a script.  And it was vetted and she knew it was ready to go.  She had placed in the top 3 in Final Draft some years ago but nothing materialized rep wise.  And so she had finished a new script she was really excited about and we were sitting across from one another and going through her list and she was like [makes a sound of exasperation]  “Do I have to send a script to this manager again?!  I’ve sent him like 5 scripts and he doesn’t like anything.”  And I said “Yeah.  You send it to everybody.  That’s just what we do.”  And three weeks later that manager become her manager who is now sending her out on an insane amount of general and show runner meetings.  Because finally the thing came aboard because he was like “I knew you were a writer.  I knew you were good.  I know that you’re consistent.  Now you wrote something great.”

So oftentimes it ends up being the writer finding the rep, rather than the rep finding the writer.  Even though we’d like to think that in a perfect world a rep would come knocking on your door.  In truth, it’s a referral business.  So the best reps and the best relationships are forged through referrals.  Where somebody will say “Hey, my friend Joe just finished this great script.  You should read it.”  Because really that’s what the industry trusts.  We’re a highly social industry.  So if you can get those referrals which is why you foster relationships, those are priceless.  It’s much easier to get a rep through a referral than a contest placement unless you’re winning that contest.  Or through the Blacklist, unless you get the coveted 9 rated on the Blacklist.  So really it’s about working those relationships so those referrals will be in place when you have that script that’s ready to share.

Question for the Viewers:  Without naming names, share how a writer you know found an agent.



Watch the video interview on Youtube here
Watch all of Lee Jessup’s Film Courage video interviews on Youtube here
Getting it Write: An Insider’s Guide to a Screenwriting Career by Lee Zahavi Jessup
Watch the full video interview with Lee Jessup here on Youtube






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