Thursday, August 4, 2011

Agency referrals

Daniel writes: A lot of the better agencies require referrals in order to, I guess, simply get a meeting. How would one go about getting this referral? Is it as simple as asking a fellow pal who's represented by an agency for the referral? Or is that bad etiquette? And if that is the case, does the pal have to read the script first, or would they just give the referral? Just unsure of how this all works, because I do know some people I could ask.

A "referral" can be anyone the agency deals with on a regular basis, be it client, producer, manager, studio exec, network exec, etc. If you have pals who are represented by agencies, they can definitely help you. Agents want to keep their clients happy, especially important clients who regularly make them money. Agents are usually willing to look at submissions from their clients' friends (though they often ask assistants or more junior agents to read the scripts first).

It's not bad etiquette to ask your friends for a referral, but you should add something in your email like "if you like it" or "if you feel comfortable." Some people might be cool with passing stuff along before reading it, but I wouldn't. I would imagine your friends wouldn't want to stamp their approval/recommendation on something before reading it. Also, you should be prepared for the possibility that they won't like your writing. (And if they don't, that's fine. Taste is subjective. We all have to get used to getting passed on.)

Also, some of your writer friends might not feel like they're yet at the point to be asking their agents for favors - so don't be insulted if this is the case. Let's say I signed with an agency a month ago and I'm still getting used to how it all works. Especially if I haven't yet gotten staffed or sold anything, I'm probably not going to be sending over more potential clients.

You might also ask your friends for some general advice about getting an agent. Most people are flattered when others ask for advice, and they like being treated like experts. This might also be useful if some of the people you're talking about are more of acquaintances than friends.

The last thing I'll say is: make sure you're really ready to look for an agent. You should have multiple polished scripts and a bunch of ideas for more.


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