- Business and Employment
Steps to becoming an Agent in Hollywood
Breaking into the Entertainment Biz
I was a literary agent in Hollywood for 15 years and still have a management company with my husband representing screenwriters and novelists. Breaking into this business is actually easier than some of the careers in Hollywood. It helps if you have a film school or business background, but it isn't necessary. I came to Los Angeles at the age of 40 having been a drama teacher and not knowing what I really wanted to do. But based on my experience and knowledge of how others have gotten into this career, I would suggest the following steps.
1. Move to Los Angeles - This is where the business is.Get a job.. any job to pay your bills.
2. Take some initial classes on the film industry (if you haven't already). There are terrific courses offered for very little money at Valley College and other junior colleges in the area. You can also take extension classes at UCLA. (That's what I did when I first came to town.)
3. Do some research - Watch movies, go to screenings, theater, watch ET. Get familiar with who's who currently in the business. Read the Hollywood Reporter and/or Daily Variety. Learn about what's going on in the business so you can talk about it intelligently.
4. Get a temp job - this maybe the single best way to break in! Find out which temp agencies send people to the studios or agencies and sign up with them.
5. Be prepared to start at a very low level. If you can get ANY job at any legitimate agency, take it. Receptionist, mailroom, runner, just get in the door. When I was first starting out, the receptionist at one of the places I worked had a Ph.D. in Psychology!!! I knew lots of M.B.A.'s who started in mailrooms and as runners.
6. Once you get that job. WORK REALLY HARD. That means more than what is expected. If they want you to get their coffee, walk their dog.. do it! Cheerfully!. Eventually they will give you more and better things to do. I put in in 12-14 hour days when I first started at my agency.
7. Get to know other assistants! As you work in the lower levels, you will meet lots of other people at your same level. Befriend them! They will grow up in the business with you. One of my current best friends I met when we both had barely gotten our feet wet. We've remained friends and both achieved V.P. levels at our respective companies at about the same time!
8. Network! Join networking groups! Facebook makes this even easier than it was 20 years ago! But make sure you meet people face to face. Go to lunch, coffee, out for drinks! Make friends.
9. Read the contracts that you will be handling. Learn what goes into them. Watch the successful people and what they do. Listen to how they negotiate.
10. Keep smiling. Perservere. Just keep at it and you can become an agent!