Ever wondered what screenwriters’ agents do all day? Ellen Gallagher is here to satisfy your curiosity.
A caveat from Ellen: this isn't the way every day pans out, or even a complete picture of everything that goes on in the Media Department, not by a long stretch. No two days are quite the same in the world of agents, that’s partly why I enjoy my job so much!
8.30am – Begin checking emails on the way to work. I don't want to miss anything, and am utterly obsessed with organising my emails into folders. I work across a number of clients and projects, and I want to make sure that any emails that have come in are filed correctly so they can be dealt with promptly. Organisation is King in the Land of the Agents!
9.25am – Arrive at the office. Make a giant pot of coffee; it's always wise to endear oneself to one’s colleagues by providing caffeine-based sustenance. Similarly, cake is highly popular and should be procured and shared as frequently as possible.
9.30am – Right, it's email-handling time. I respond to as much as I immediately can, and put the rest in a ‘to do’ folder to be worked on throughout the day. Emails range from rights enquiries or contract negotiation to new client scripts and treatments, and everything in between.
10am – I have a lovely phone chat with a client, and we cook up some ideas about what to do next with his work. I end the call excited to read the script he’s going to send me.
10.30am – Now we enter the Invoicing Zone. I keep track of invoices and payments to ensure that clients get paid when they should. Our finance manager Sian is an invaluable ally, as she is a font of fiscal fortitude.
11am – I spend an intense half hour arranging meetings; some for our department, and some on behalf of our clients. I am the master of the diary, no meeting shall escape my iron calendar. I have a pleasant jokey exchange with a producer’s assistant about the awesome efficiency with which we just arranged that last meeting.
11.30am – I roll up my sleeves to delve into some contract drafting. There are always deals to be done, and putting together a contract which protects the writer’s interests is a vital part of the agent’s job. Contract language may sound a bit like it was invented by aliens who had learned English from reading the instructions on a shampoo bottle, but it’s the best wording to make a document as legally watertight as possible.
1.30pm – Lunch! I head to the kitchen and assemble a sort of mad salad which mostly consists of whole tomatoes. I really like tomatoes at the moment.
2.30pm – I peruse the ‘to do’ email folder again. Some of the emails in here require research or looking back over existing documents to respond properly, so I do lots of that. It’s essential to be thorough to make sure nothing gets missed, especially when rights are involved.
3pm – A client has written a fab script, I've read it and told her I love it. There’s a producer whom I think would love it too; I get in touch with them and they're keen to read it, so I send it across.
3.05pm – Ooh, an email has gone round saying somebody has returned from an overseas book fair and has brought some sort of food back for everyone. A mildly twisted ankle is sustained in the customary BFLA stampede for the kitchen.
3.10pm – The post has come in – we distribute contracts, financial statements and other documentation that needs handling on behalf of our clients. Lots of filing and record-keeping ensues. Organisation, once again, is the buzzword!
3.30pm – Time for a meeting. A producer has come in to tell us what they're looking for, and to hear about our clients and what they're up to. Cups of tea are enthusiastically quaffed.
4.30pm – I put some scripts on my eReader to look at this evening. I must prioritise existing clients’ work, but also I check out as many new submissions as I can from writers seeking representation.
4.45pm – I try to tie up as many loose ends as possible toward the end of the day. This includes logging script submissions (where we have sent clients’ work for consideration) and doing any last-minute email responding to keep the decks as clear as possible for the next day. I also use this time to read up on as much industry news as possible, in publications such as Broadcast, Screen International and online sources. It’s important to be aware of trends and developments in film and television so that information can be used to benefit our clients.
Around 5.30pm – I head out of the office with my eReader stocked up with scripts. There might also be a screening or play read-through in the evening that I’ve been invited to by a submitter or film school, but if not I'll go home to read and eat dinner. Another action-packed day of agenting awaits me tomorrow, bring it on!