The First Taste of Success – the agent’s point of view:
“In representing writers, my function is to sell their screenplays, secure employment for them, and negotiate the terms of their deals. The time from when I get handed a script, to getting it made could sometimes be five, seven, ten years – and the large majority of scripts never get made. I probably sell ten to fifteen out of every fifty scripts. But then out of every twenty that I sell, maybe two get made. Because those are the stats, every time you’ve actually gone through that process…it’s a certain kind of high, you know.
To know that your good work and your brains and your passion have had a positive effect on somebody’s life – to me, that’s an exciting thing.
Because I’m on the front lines, a client will always rely on me to say, ‘Here’s what going on in the marketplace. This is what they tell me they’re looking for and they’re not looking for.’ It’s my job to know that.
I define commercial as any script that I can sell. (It’s) something that has a big idea, something that’s multiquadrant, something that’s a very castable piece, something that’s gonna attract a director or actor. All those things enable the studio to green light the script.
There are people that really love being involved in movies, who care about taking a ride with their clients… Those are the warm-blooded people. And then there are the reptiles… Those agents tend to be very, very successful… they have the ability to cut themselves off emotionally.
What writers want to hear in a signing meeting and what they need to hear are two different things. If you’ve written a script, you ask an agent, ‘Can you sell this?’ Well, the honest answer is, ‘I believe I can because I read it and I loved it, and that’s why we’re here. But can I guarantee you that I can sell it? No.’”
Excerpted with quotes from Richard Arlook
Tales from the Script (2010)