I’m sure agents long for the good old days. Those halcyon days before cellphones and email. Back when it was easy to duck calls from their writer clients and avoid them entirely. They had the drill down pat.
You, the writer/client would call. Step one: the assistant says he’s in a meeting and will call you back. Step two: He calls back at 1 PM, knowing you’re at lunch. Step three: You call back after lunch, and what do you know? He’s out of the office. But he’ll call you back. Step four: The assistant calls you back at 6 to say the agent has been in meetings all afternoon but will call you back first thing in the morning. Step five: He calls at 8:30 the next morning knowing you’re not in the office yet. A variation of Step four is he calls you back at 7:30 at night knowing you’ve left for the day. Repeat this process until the writer just gives up.
But now, with cellphones, there is no “out of the office”. He can reach you at lunch, at 7:30 at night, even 7:30 in the morning. And you can pepper him with email. Agents would give up their citizenship before they give up their Blackberrys. For us "schmucks with an Underwood" (or now an iMac) it’s a beautiful thing.
I must say, I’m one of the few writers who actually likes his agent. But he returned my calls b.c. (before cellphones).
How important you are in the business can be directly correlated to when (if ever) your agent gets back to you. If you call him and he actually gets on the phone, you’ve just won an Oscar. If he calls you back within the hour, your movie just opened big or you have three series on the air. A lunch callback signals that you’re still marketable. Same with an early afternoon callback. But if the fortunes haven’t been smiling lately, if he’s not fielding offers for you, expect the 7 PM call. Always from his car on his way home. Priority level right behind making an appointment to have his golf shoes polished.
Those are great conversations because you can’t hear him on the speaker phone, if he needs to refer to something he left it at the office, and if he’s going over a canyon you get cut off. And they ALL seem to have homes in the canyon. Hey, wait a minute. That could just be Step Six.
When you meet with your agent is also an indication of your place on the Hollywood Food Chain. Dinner -- you’re the flavor of the month. Lunch – it’s okay to be seen with you. Breakfast – charity.
And of course none of this applies when the agent is trying to recruit you. Then he’s calling you six times a day – asking how your weekend was, wondering if you wanted Laker tickets, telling you you should be having Paul Haggis’ career.
But now with email you can tell him every Monday how your weekend was, whether he asks or not. And when you read in Variety that Haggis signs a multi-million dollar deal to write the next James Bond movie you can find out why you didn’t get that assignment. Make sure your cellphone is on at 7:00, or in this case, more like 9:00.
And while you’ve got him, the Lakers are home against the Spurs on Sunday the 10th.