I just helped to avert a possible disaster. Well, maybe not a disaster, but definitely a major bump in a budding screenwriter’s career. Here’s what happened:
A teenager contacted me recently and asked if I would look at her recently-completed script. I told her to send the first 15 pages and I’d be happy to read them and at least see if she was on the right track with her writing. Based on her age, my guess was she wasn’t. So I read the fifteen pages. As I suspected, the pages needed quite a bit of work; they were nowhere near being ready to be sent to agents or producers. I told her she still needed some significant time of study and writing under her belt before she'd write anything truly professional. I gave her some tips, pointers and suggestions and she seemed happy enough. Then she told me she was with an agency.
That’s when I saw a dozen red flags go up.
I then discovered the agency in question was known as The Screenplay Agency. Many of us know who these guys are. There have been lots of complaints about them over the years. I really don’t know how they stay in business. Anyway, this young girl told me she was about to sign some paperwork with them. (Not sure how that works considering she’s underage.) I then told her to do some research on the fine folks at The Screenplay Agency. She did — and quickly discovered a flurry of complaints from other screenwriters.
What’s interesting to me — not in a good way —is that I warn about this sort of thing on my website. I’ve also warned about this sort of thing here on my blog (see my July 14, 2007 entry). This young girl says she’s read my site…so isn’t she taking notes?!
C'MON, PAY ATTENTION!!
If an “agency” tells you they love your script and want to rep you, don’t immediately think you’ve struck gold and sign on the dotted line. Do research. Get on Google (or wherever) and check ‘em out. Read the fine print in their contract. If they tell you there’s a fee of any kind, drop 'em like a hot rock. DON’T GET RIPPED OFF.