TWIC: Impress Reps by Doing This
This Week in Coaching – Week ending 1/24/20.
Note: There will be no This Week in Coaching Entry for the week ending 1/31/20.
This past week was what I call my “final draft week”: The week in which I spend a number of days getting to know the Final Draft Big Break Contest winners as we attend a dinner with past winners and working scribes, a luncheon with literary managers who served as final round judges, and a day full of back-to-back meetings with managers at literary management companies around town.
This year, we met at four different highly-regarded firms: Heroes & Villains, Brillstein Entertainment Partners, 3Arts and Bellevue Productions. And throughout the day, one word came up again and again when managers described the sort of writer they all wanted to get in business with:
You have to be a generator.
We want to know that you are a generator.
As well as…
No matter what happens, you have to stay a generator.
So it appears that GENERATOR is the word of the moment.
But it also speaks to what reps are looking for in potential clients: A prolific hand, someone who produces new content on a regular basis. Of course, it’s important to have your craft down, to understand what makes a great pilot or screenplay in the first place. But once you’ve got that? Creating new quality work consistently is what these managers find incredibly important when considering new talent to bring onto their rosters.
Let’s break down the “why” of it all:
Once your screenplay or TV pilot gets you in the door with representation, it’s going to be about the work that comes next. Even if your new manager decides to take the screenplay or pilot that excited them enough to sign you out into the professional space, most will want to get you working on your next project right away in order to continue to build, expand and reinforce both your momentum and your fanbase. Add to that the fact that at every general meeting (i.e. a meeting that does not focus on any proposed development of your work at hand) you will be asked what you’re writing next. Which is why some reps are huge advocates of your willingness to continue to generate screenplays, pitches and pilots on spec.
John Zaozirny at Bellevue Productions said that generating content on spec is akin to betting on yourself, while chasing writing assignments is leaving your fate in someone else’s hands. This does not in any way mean that you will be working for free for the rest of your life; Reps don’t make money unless you do, and all of them across the board strongly communicated that without your ability to consistently generate exciting new content, they are not able to aptly do their job for you.
Kailey Marsh at Brillstein Entertainment Partners went as far as to say something to the tune of: All I need you to do is write. That’s it. Sure you can go out and network, and watch and read things, but once you’re with me I need you to write so that I can do my job for you.
I’ll end this blogpost on something Chris Coggins at Heres & Villains said: Throw hard work at the problem. Which I love. Not, as Chris made a point to point out, that there’s a problem. But the message here is: Writers have the unique benefit of needing nothing and no one but the blank page in order to generate that project that stimulates a ton of interest, that reinvigorates their careers, that pushes them to the next level. All of that promise is right there every time a writer sits down to write. And the more great writing you have on hand, the more industry excitement will be coming your way.