I was talking to my screenwriting professor about getting an agent. He informed me that writer-directors do not get talent agents, but have to get literary agents. I have a producer already interested in my work, so I thought it might be safe if I sought representation. Is this true? How do I go about that?
Eddie Gamarra is a literary manager/producer at The Gotham Group. He represents screenwriters, directors, animators, authors, illustrators, publishers, and animation studios around the world that specialize in children and family entertainment. His main focus is in animation and literature ranging from picture books, novels, anthologies, and graphic novels. His clients include numerous New York Times best-selling authors and illustrators, as well as Oscar, Emmy, Caldecott, Newberry, and Geisel award winners. Eddie is Executive Producer of James Dashner’s upcoming The Maze Runner film. The Gotham Group has a producing component and reps over 300 writers, authors, and publishing company clients.
From the Hollywood perspective, your professor is correct. Actors have “talent” agents; screenwriters and directors have “literary” agents and /or managers; and authors/illustrators have “book” agents. All reps should be working to insure the best opportunities for their clients in their specific fields of expertise and often partner with other reps (“co-reps”/ “co-agents”) when they need expert advice outside their field. If you are an author/illustrator trying to have your book optioned as a movie or TV show (TV movie, web series, etc.), OR if you are an author adapting your own work as a script, then your book agent typically partners with a “book-to-film” agent who can help you and your book agent navigate the dark forest of Hollywood. If you are strictly a screenwriter, then you can have a lit agent or manager help you sell your script.
Many book agents work with book-to-film co-reps and so you can have your book agent help you add that new member to your team. If you do not have a book agent or if your book agent does not have any relationships with co-reps, then you will have to research the best “book-to-film” rep just as you would research a book agent. Hollywood is less transparent than publishing so the best ways to begin that search are to research Publishers Marketplace, look up reps who have spoken at SCBWI events, and also look at the websites’ of the authors/illustrators’ whose work most closely resembles yours and see if they have any reps listed on their own websites. Ask your friends who have been through the optioning process to see who they used and liked.
In your case it is also very important to get some inside information about the producer interested in your project. While anyone can use resources like IMDb or Box Office Mojo to research a producer, it is essential to have up-to-date insider information about that producer. Their credits may be amazing, but there are any number of reasons why they may not be the right match for you or your book.
Keep in mind, if one person sees potential in your project, others might too. There may be better collaborations to be made. Your reps will help you figure it all out.
The Gotham Group