How To Get Sh$$ Done Without Hollywood Agents by Gregor Collins
Over the course of my 14 years in Los Angeles I’ve had six Hollywood Agents: four of them acting agents, two of them literary and acting managers. Out of all those Hollywood agents who have handled me at one time or another, guess how much paid acting-writing-producing work I’ve landed exclusively on my own devices? About 90%.
And the point of this piece is not to gloat. And I am not here to belittle Hollywood agents. Not by any stretch.
If you happen to be lucky enough to land one of those Hollywood agents who is connected, who genuinely appreciates you and your talents, and who will fight for you almost as much as you fight for yourself, then congratulations.
You’ve won the agent lottery and you should hold on to them for dear life.
But let’s put it this way – I haven’t had an agent in two years and it has been two of the most creatively productive years of my life.
Without Hollywood Agents
On the road to packaging the film adaptation of my book The Accidental Caregiver, I’m finding that putting the project together without Hollywood agents is even more appealing to people. I’m talking established “bigs” in the industry who have money and influence – that I’m the main guy on the front lines pushing my own product.
Passion is contagious.
When I published my book in August 2012 I made a decision. Instead of spending my time chasing literary and Hollywood agents that didn’t immediately see what I saw, I gave up the ghost, changed course, and started contacting book publishers myself. Instead of writing queries to reps I wrote queries to book houses and press.
The press, albeit mainly regional press, responded, and while I had that going for me (and all the while keeping up on social media and networking), I started garnering interest from a few mid-level publishers and one big publisher, who started to understand the potential.
But they weren’t saying yes.
Since I didn’t want to wait around to see if they would ever say yes, and knowing I had a good product for which I was willing to go to bat for to my dying grave, I self-published… And it was one of the best career decisions I ever made.
The book became a bestseller on Amazon within a month.
Within a year I had traveled around the world doing book signings, meeting high government officials, attending book fairs and trade shows, and doing radio and print interviews. Would I have accomplished all this with an agent?
Maybe, maybe not. But probably not. And while you can certainly do both – have an agent and also do things yourself. . . Having an agent just makes you more likely to sit back and take an extra sip of that coffee.
Not that there’s anything wrong with coffee.
I’ve now adapted the book into a screenplay. I’m getting big meetings from it, mostly from good old-fashioned cold calling and friend referrals. I feel like George Clooney in Ocean’s 11—I’m slowly but surely amassing a team of eclectic creatives; there’s no greater feeling than handpicking people you trust who connect to your product as much as you.
Some of the recent activity I’ve created with the script sans representation:
- One of the biggest actresses in the world is reading it.
- One of the most respected indie film companies is considering the pitch.
- One of the most critically acclaimed cable networks is “interested.”
- Two directors: one up-and-coming and one established, who are both signed with reputable agencies, have read my screenplay and have expressed interest in directing it.
Through all of this, I intentionally avoided big Hollywood agents.
They rarely return calls (even ones who I was referred to by friends), and if they do most Hollywood agents only see dollar signs. And if it’s not the next Twilight or will make them a lot of money in a short amount of time they don’t see the worth in fighting for it.
It doesn’t matter how good it is.
So consequently I decided to bypass Hollywood agents and go right to the people who care more about good material than good money: directors, producers, casting directors, publicists and, very often, managers.
Start with IMDB-Pro. It’ll be the best $100 you’ll ever spend.
But it’s still tough. It NEVER gets easy no matter how “busy” or “important” you get.
Everything is always an uphill battle and takes twice as long. Typically people don’t think outside the box. They see directly in front of them and they don’t take risks. Routine is comfortable.
But if you keep after the right people, you’ll open a door.
Hollywood has changed. No longer is there only one door or one pearly gate that will creak open for the lucky few.
There are so many side doors in “new Hollywood” that with a little ingenuity and determination they will start swinging open and lead you to places you never thought possible.
If you’re brandishing good content and people are fond of you, there is literally nothing you can’t accomplish.
Gregor is an actor, author, screenwriter and film and television producer living in Los Angeles, currently adapting his bestselling memoir The Accidental Caregiver into a feature film. He has other features in development, including an “assisted suicide comedy” he co-wrote and is set to star screen legend Cloris Leachman. He also teaches an online class on Udemy about how he’s used social media to successfully promote his projects, is the lead actor in the critically acclaimed indie feature Goodbye Promise, and writes for various publications including Cinema Editor Magazine.