Dream job: Literary agent

by | April 01, 2009

Age: 27
Education: BA, Psychology, UCLA

"While I was in college, I worked on several student films and took tons of classes where I had the chance to meet other writers, directors and actors. I knew I wanted to be in the entertainment industry and, while I didn't get into UCLA Film School, I still knew that being in Los Angeles and at UCLA would be a great opportunity to take classes and meet people. I did semester internships all over the city at various production companies just to make contacts and meet people. I'd then keep in touch, taking people to coffee, sending little gifts, always asking them to keep me in mind if anything came up or to make introductions to others for me. And right after graduation, I got into a talent agency -- of course in the proverbial mail room. I have to say, having started in the industry in college was an eye-opening experience -- there were people in the mailroom with me who were in their 30s because they had just recently decided to pursue a career in the industry. That is one bit of advice I would give-especially for starting at an agency -- if you have an interest, the best time to do it is when you're young since it is pretty demeaning work.

"I knew I would have to stick it out a while, but fortunately I had time. I was working on student films and scripts with some of my pals who were still in school and I figured I would find another assistant position at a production company or within the agency by a year. I think a lot of people liked me, and by the time I had my one-year anniversary, most of my 'mailroom class' had already quit. I was next up for a promotion to an agent's desk. I worked with the film literary agents, which turned out to be an awesome position. It was definitely abusive at times, and my first year was terrible, but I stayed on. After all, I knew it's what I wanted, and heck, I was still only 23 years old at the end of the day.

"While I knew I was reading some good scripts that should get some prominence, I started to understand that everything was dependent on who knew who, and giving people what they wanted. What I started to get really good at, which took me about a year to figure out, was to eavesdrop on phone calls that would happen. As an assistant, especially at an agency, you end up handling hundreds of calls a day, so you're sort of a switchboard operator of sorts. And I started to listen in on their calls with huge A-list movie stars and directors. I started making friends with other assistants, especially the other enterprising ones at other studios that I knew were ambitious, and started getting the inside track on information about what was hot, so my boss could make a bid when the time was right. It's the inside information that makes you valuable. By having valuable information, and then threatening to take it somewhere else, say, to another agency, or another production company, they finally promoted me. They'll never promote you unless they have to. But once I had my own assistant and my own phone line, and the ability to broker deals, I was able to start doing things for myself."

Filed Under: Job Search


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