Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Ask an Agent: Hollywood Part II

Join us for the second installment from Michelle Grajkowski as she talks about books and Hollywood.

Last week I introduced you to the key players in Hollywood, the manager, the agent and the producer. Today, I’ll try to wrap up the mystique of the big screen by showing you how agents and authors interact with them to make movies happen.

Besides the manger, agent and producer, there is another very important person who scours the literary marketplace for hot new projects – the scout. Scouts are normally contracted with a certain production company or film studio. Their job is to uncover novels that could be adapted well into film. Since they work directly with the powerhouses, they know exactly what their firms are looking for. I’ve been contacted by many scouts on projects that they’ve seen listed on places like Publisher’s Marketplace or by reviews that have been given on a book. In general, they are interested in looking at projects that are not yet on the shelves.

Normally when a book is published, a production company or management firm will contact an agent about the particular project. Last winter, for example, one of my clients and I signed an agreement for one of her novels with a production company. The production company, in turn, hired a screenwriter to adapt her novel into a screenplay. The screenplay is currently being written, and the production company is hoping to be ready to start marketing it within the next few months.

In another case, we had a screenwriter who works for a production company approach is about a different client’s novel. She is writing the screenplay and then we are going to work on the marketing of the project. We signed this agreement for this project almost a year ago, too.

Finally, since I have a good number of contacts in the industry, when a high-concept project that I’ve sold or am marketing comes up I start shopping it right away. It’s important to get the word out as soon as possible.

Hollywood tends to work on many projects in the early stages that never find themselves on film. They like to buy while a trend is hot, but since it takes so long from start to finish, oftentimes the trends change and a project is abandoned mid-stream. Just like in publishing, the wait can be immense, but it can really pay off!!


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