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Dear Hollywood Scriptwriter:

I operate The Gary-Paul Agency. We promote screenplays to the film and television industry. The first two years in business I operated out of Los Angeles. I now conduct business in Connecticut. In those first two years I found it difficult to submit, let alone sell scripts to the studios. I could not package "talent" with the properties I submitted. As a result, a year ago I changed my method of operation and have made great progress.

The key to this progress is that I now focus my attention on selling scripts to independent producers. This market is better than ever right now, and is growing each day. Unfortunately, independent producers are usually not Guild-signatories, and therefore develop or purchase scripts from non-union writers. And, 99% of the scripts I receive come from first time writers--- so I'm going after the most promising market.

Because most of the submissions I get are from first-time writers, many scripts come to me needing work. In fact, I have yet to receive a script that is presentable "out of the box." My job is to work with the writer through rewrites so the script is presentable. Most of the time it is an involved process that in the past had cost me a small fortune. I almost went out of business because I couldn't afford the phone calls and other expenses incurred in running an agency.

I get 10% of a script's selling price. At one time that was all I would earn. I don't represent (actors), I'm strictly a literary agency. Competition and the fact that over 50,000 scripts are registered each year with only several hundred or so produced makes the selling of a script extremely difficult. Therefore, the only way I can stay in business is by offering my talent as a script consultant.

Each script that is submitted to the agency carries a consultation fee of $450.00. The writer and I can usually work out script problems the first time around. Most script problems arise out of misguided information about form and formula. Nevertheless, once the final draft is secured, a solicitation mailing of 150 to 250 letters is conducted which can yield requests of fifteen to twenty copies per title. Solicitations and mailings will continue until both the writer and I are satisfied that we have covered all possible contacts. The way in which I work gets results because I believe that there is no such thing as a poor story only poor story telling.

I have yet to have a writer complain or in any way feel robbed, cheated, or let down by me. I offer a quality service at a reasonable price and follow through on my claims. If I did not live up to these claims, I would be out of business. So my question is: am I doing something unethical or wrong?

In defense of the agency, our method of business is correct. My partner and I work long hours to satisfy our writers. What we do is not unethical or wrong, it's hard and honest work.

Well, I stated my position. What's yours? Let's debate the issue.

Gary Maynard

 

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