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GETTING UNSTUCK: At what point in my career should I try to bring on an agent?


Some of the questions we hear most frequently from emerging filmmakers have to do with building out their team of professional industry reps—agents, lawyers, managers, etc.— “the team” you hear everybody thank when they accept their shiny awards. 

We’ve finally demystified the process in our Master Class: How to Find Representation for Writers and Directors with The Hollywood Reporter’s Rebecca Sun. CAA’s Christina Chou (agent to Wong Kar Wai, Cathy Yan and many more artists) joined the conversation to shed some light on an agent’s role. While many creators believe that you need an agent to even break into the industry, Chou advises that you likely will want to have some solid work completed and a clear direction or some momentum before approaching them.

She shares, “Think of an agency as jet fuel. We’re adding boosters to a rocket ship. It’s most helpful when you have somebody pointed in a specific direction, they have a sense of what they want [and] they’re open to feedback…There’s a script, some shorts work, maybe some TV work.” Once you have some material that clearly demonstrates your voice, you’ll need to know what move you want to make next in order for the agency to best serve you. Chou explains, “Having a sense of ‘I want to meet more people in scripted TV,’ or ‘I’d like to expand the scope of my next film.’ That specificity is really helpful at an agency.” 

Putting it plainly, to be most attractive to agents, your goal shouldn’t be finding an agent. Rather, it should be creating unique work and knowing where you’d like to take your career. Says Chou, “Defining success is not a checklist of ‘I want an agent by the time I’m 30.’ It’s the core of the stories or who you are as a creator. It’s about saying ‘I would love to have, in five years, a feature film or a semblance of a large world-building script.’” She encourages you to set those specific goals because, “Having a sense of that means the right people will come.” When it comes down to it, Chou believes, “the important thing that really lets you have a lasting career is the work.”

Watch the full three-hour Master Class: How to Find Representation for Writers and Directors to hear The Hollywood Reporter’s Rebecca Sun share her insights from the field and moderate in-depth conversations with managers Melissa Breaux and Adam Marshall from Management 360, literary agent Christina Chou from CAA, and entertainment attorney Elsa Ramo.

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