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The Director's Chair Issue #51 – Feb. 21, 2005 (Finding the Right Agent)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

February 21, 2005          Scene 6 – Take 2

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
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1.  Introduction
2.  Action-Cut-Print!
3.  Special Interest for Filmmakers
4.  Feature Article – Finding the Right Agent
5.  Review – Movie Magic Scheduling Tutorial
6.  33 Ways to Break Into Hollywood
7.  Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
8.  Share This Ezine
9.  Suggestions & Comments
10. Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
11. Copyright Information


Welcome to Issue #51 of The Director’s Chair (February 17, 2005)

1) This month’s Feature Article is by Charles Wilkinson on how
to find the right agent. Charles is a film director who has
directed numerous dramatic programs for theatrical and U.S.
network release and has written a book called,
“The Working Director.”

2) VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – If you would like to contribute articles,
tips, links of interest, industry news, interviews, special event
dates or other resources to The Director’s Chair please email:



Peter D. Marshall

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This article is an excerpt from the book, “The Working
Director” by Charles Wilkinson.


Do you have the right agent? Should you look for a better one?
Do you need an agent at all? Consider this: Virtually every
director finds and signs their first life changing deal without
the aid of an agent. That first low-budget movie. The first
music video that lights the kindling that starts the fire that
will become your career. No agent on earth can light that fire
for you. Nobody in the directing trade gets “discovered.” BUT,
once you start a merry little blaze no one can turn it into a
roaring bonfire like a good agent. So if your excuse for not
working is that you have the wrong agent or no agent at all,
that may be just what it is. An excuse.

If you’re not currently working it’s because the people doing
the hiring aren’t thinking about you. Or they’re thinking the
wrong things about you. Assuming you are qualified for the
work, the right agent may be able to change this situation. But
how do you get the right agent? By being a promising director.
And how do you do that?

Direct. Wherever you can. Do a play that gets good notices. Do
a music video for a group about to break out. Do a commercial
on spec, a student film, a wedding. Enter every festival under
the sun. Win an award. Suddenly the agent sees you (and more
importantly can sell you) as the award winning director who

Can the Right Agent Get You Work?

Sometimes. If you are studio or network approvable for the kind
of work you want and if your agent is in that particular loop
then yes, they can. What does that mean?

If you’ve directed 20 episodes of prime time drama and if your
agent talks daily with the producers who hire for prime time
drama then your agent can probably get you more of the same
kind of work. Can that agent get you a studio feature? Almost
certainly not.

On the other hand let’s say you have one low-budget feature to
your credit. Say it didn’t go theatrical but a few critics
liked it and it won some awards. Can an agent who’s plugged
into the world of small features get you serious job interviews
for more of the same? Yes. Can that agent get you on to this
season’s hot prime time episodic? Almost certainly not. Agents

GM Goodwrench mechanics know nothing about fixing Ferraris.
They never see one. Likewise, the perfectionist Ferrari
mechanic wouldn’t know where to start on that $49.95 tune-up.

Directors often complain about their agents. The agency is too
small. Nobody takes their calls. Or they’re too big. They don’t
take your calls. Or they’re addicted to packaging. They claim
your name doesn’t have the sizzle that the latest ex-rocker
first timer’s does. The complaints may very well be true. But
the complaints we make about our agents are often excuses.

Put yourself in the agent’s place. They can’t stay in business
if they don’t have income. In a way an agent is like a
salesman. Give a salesman a desirable product and they’ll move
it. As anti-art as it sounds, if you make yourself that
desirable “product” your agent will sell you.

Big vs. Small

Everybody wants to be repped by the CAA, ICM, or the William
Morris Agency. They rep the biggest of the big. Some of that
success is bound to rub off on you, right? And also, their
sweatshirts are cool. Who doesn’t enjoy a visit to the park
with “Property of Wm. Morris” on their chest? And their logo on
your resume and demo reel. What producer won’t put that one at
the top of the pile?

Pure fantasy.

I was represented by the Morris Agency for two years. I worked,
but not one of my jobs came from them. Why?

Because the kind of work I was approvable for was simply not
going to Morris clients. And of the few jobs my agent there
could have sold me for, he had other clients with better
credits. When I came to my senses and signed with an L.A.
agency that was tops in my field my phone started to ring

Was I wrong to sign with Morris? No. Besides directing I write
spec screenplays. During the time I was there two or three of
my scripts were seriously looked at by people who could have
helped them happen if the material was right. That chance,
however slim, was worth something.

My point? The big/small criterion isn’t the way to choose an
agent. So what is?

Here’s a way I’ve found that works. Pick a number of shows you
realistically could have been, but weren’t, considered for.
Find out who directed them and who represents those directors.
Call these agents. Tell them who you are. Ask for a meeting. If
you’ve been truly realistic regarding where you stand a chance
of being hired, odds are the agents will want to meet you.

Here’s another method that can work very well. Say you’ve found
the agent that’s perfect for you. Only problem is they don’t
want to sign you just now. What to do?

Bring them your best lead. Do the agent’s job for them. Find a
job you are hirable for. Do the leg work. Call for yourself.
Take the meeting. Again, if you were correct in your judgment
about how hirable you are, the producer will talk to you
without an agent being involved. Once it looks like they want
you, go to the agent and ask them to close and commission what
amounts to a done deal. In a way it’s kind of bribery. But it
also shows you’re motivated. And most importantly it tells the
agent that you take responsibility for your own career.

The same applies when you have an agent but you’re considering
a change. Don’t wait until you’re into a slow patch to shop
around. Who wants to rep an unemployed director? Make the calls
when you’re working. Very few agents will refuse to meet a
working director.

Bottom line, there are SO many agents out there. Every one of
them is right for someone. Get the right one for you.

Speaking of bribery, reward your agent. Let them share in your
excitement. Every time they get you work buy them flowers or a
fruit basket. When they get you work in Paris send them a print
from the Louvre. When they get you work in Germany, say it with

To get this book from Amazon.com, click here:

Charles Wilkinson is a film and television director. He has
directed numerous dramatic programs for theatrical and U.S.
network release (Max, Breach of Trust, The Highlander). His
most recent work is the 2004 independent U.S. feature The Heart
of the Storm starring Tom Cavanaugh (Ed) and Melissa Gilbert
(Hollywood Wives). His book, The Working Director (MWP
Publications of Los Angeles) is available through Amazon,
Chapters, and in film bookstores all over.


Movie Magic Scheduling, Version 3.7 (Mac or PC)

Ivan Francis Clements has produced an excellent DVD tutorial on
“Scheduling with Movie Magic.” In this two disc set, Ivan takes
you step by step through Movie Magic Scheduling so that you can
create your own production board in a way that makes sense to

Movie Magic is now the industry standard for film scheduling
and is the best way to manage your production. I have used
Movie Magic Scheduling for over 15 years and as I went through
Ivan’s tutorial, I found many tricks and ideas to help me
organize my productions better.

Also included in the tutorial is Ivan’s famous “Shooting Ratio
Calculator” as a free bonus! The purpose of this calculator is
to give you a daily check on how your shoot is going in terms
of daily page count, footage count and most importantly,
whether or not you are on SHOOTING RATIO.

This calculator is really important on no/low budget filmmaking
where your film stock is your GOLD!!!

If you are a Producer, Line Producer, Production Manager,
Director or 1st AD, I highly recommend this tutorial.

Check out Ivan’s “Scheduling with Movie Magic” tutorial at


I have made a special deal with Ivan for subscribers of The
Director’s Chair. The normal price for this two disk set is
US$99.00. But as a subscriber to The Director’s Chair, your
special price is US$59.00.

To get your discount rate, when you click on the GIP Ltd Order
box at the bottom of the page.



Got a script you want to sell to Hollywood? Good. Then you need
a map that will guide you through the relentless obstacle
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“33 Ways to Break Into Hollywood” is divided into five categories:

A. The Standard Routes — Do these first.
B. The More Aggressive Routes that can get you through back doors.
C. Outrageous Routes that have produced surprising results.
D. Networking Your Way to Success .
E. High Probability Methods — Strategies Top Writers Use.

You’ll get solutions, links to articles and sites that can help
you, and strategies that you can use today to increase your
chance of breaking in.

There’s no charge. We’re simply introducing our site to you.
Go to http://www.scriptforsale.com/33ways/signup33.htm to download.


To read back issues of The Director’s Chair, visit:


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