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Getting an agent when you have an offer on the table

I got this question recently:

“Regarding whether or not to get an agent…If I get a purchase or option offer from a producer isn’t it a good idea to contact a reputable agent – who will jump at the chance to represent me – to negotiate the contract?”

The sad truth is that you’ll still have trouble finding an agent “who will jump at the chance to represent” unless the offer is from a really big well established production company. And even then, it’s not going to be as easy as you might think. My inclination would be to simply hire an established entertainment attorney to handle the contract negotiations. I’m not a big fan of being rushed and if you do get an offer and go out and try and get an agent you’ll be doing so quickly and rushing things. The agent will want you to sign some sort of agreement and that’s not something you’ll want to sign under the pressure of being rushed.

On the other hand if you hire a lawyer and let her take care of the details you won’t have to worry about what sort of “deal” you made with an agent. Once the movie gets rolling you’ll have plenty of time to find a good agent and you won’t be rushed to do so. Just make sure you have several other marketable well written screenplays because agents need new material to send out.