“Yeah, yeah. But how do I get an agent? Yeah, yeah, I know I have to write a great thing. I’ve done it. How do I get anyone to read it?”
I understand the question. I do. And I know where it comes from. How frustrating it is to feel like you are on the outside and the barriers to entry are enormous and almost insurmountable.
And you are not crazy to feel that way. The barriers are built high so you can’t scale ’em, thick so you can’t knock ’em down, and buried deep in the ground, making it almost impossible to crawl underneath ’em.
Easiest thing to do is give up. Second easiest: complain about how unfair it is.
Third thing is to recognize the problem and carry on anyway, finding a way to believe that if the work is strong enough, powerful enough, compelling enough that the folks behind the barriers will find their way to you.
Which sounds exactly like what someone who has already made it over would say, right?
But here’s the thing: all you need is one champion, one assistant, one friend of a director, one boyfriend of an intern at a production company to think that your work will make him (or her) look good.
How do you find that one believer, that one person who decides that carrying your screenplay up the line will help both of you? I don’t know. I have ideas: post it on a website, stage a reading, network, use your Facebook friends and their friends.
Or make a movie. That’s what Shane Carruth did. He made Primer for $7000 that he saved up over years. And then he won Sundance. Equipment is the least expensive it has ever been. Access to the audience is the most available it’s ever been. Find a way to use those things to make the business come to you. If your work is truly undeniable, someone, somewhere will recognize it. Because it is in their self-interest to do so.
If you ask 100 screenwriters how they got the read that changed their lives, you’d get 100 different answers. But almost all of them would have to do with one person, only one, seeing something special, something worth sharing.
The first screenplay that David Levien and I wrote got rejected at every agency. Then Miramax bought it. And all those same agents lined up at our door. It was Rounders.
I wish there were an easy answer to this question. It’s the one that all writers, directors and actors get asked more than any other. None of us really know.
We just know this: the only thing that moves you closer is the work. Which is also the only part of it that you can control. Keep grinding away, keep going deeper, keep doing. Keep the faith.