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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question: 

DcH, my agent isn't calling and I'm getting very antsy.  Can you advise me on how to not go crazy?

Malcolm from Salinas, CA

This week's Answer: 

Agenta Absentia  

Have no fear, Malcolm.  You're not going crazy (unless you are and this is the beginning of a wonderful stalking relationship), but simply undergoing a case of Agenta Absentia (taken from the Latin:  "absent agent."  You don't think they had agents in the days of Rome? How do you think Homer got points?), a problem that many screenwriters (and actors, and producers, and directors, and managers, and just about anybody who is required to give ten percent of one's earnings to somebody who has put everything on the line for him or her and picked up that heavy phone and made a call or sent a grueling fax or gave everything he had to turn on a computer and work that mouse to click on a link).  Agenta Absentia has several prominent characteristics that you can use to identify it and find out if you actually have the problem:  1) The almost irresistible, compulsive urge to phone your agent, along with the irresistible fear that he won't remember who you are. 2) The almost irresistible urge to visit your agent, along with the almost irresistible fear that he has moved.  And hasn't sent you a forwarding address. 3) Marking off each day of your calendar as another one when your agent didn't call you. 4)Dreaming about getting a call from your agent and him telling you that he's sold your script for six figures and he guarantees you that you'll get your ten percent. 5)Fearing that you'll have a six minute dream about not getting a call from your agent, and, while you're sleeping, he'll actually call to tell you that he's found a producer who wants to buy your script for six figures, but needs an answer in six minutes or there's no deal.

If you, Malcolm, and other dear screenwriters, have any of the above symptoms and are experiencing Agenta Absentia, don't despair because, thankfully, there is something you can definitely do:  Unplug your phone and get rid of your cell.  This way, if your agent does give you a call (which he probably won't), you won't have to worry about waiting for him to do so because you won't be able to receive it. See the brilliance in that?  (And if he does call and you miss some major 3-pic deal, you still won't have to hear that less than pleasant news.)  Problem solved.

Of course, you could always plug your phone back in and hold onto your cell-phone.  Just in case.  Heck, you could even call your agent.  If you're hesitant about looking too desperate, try this technique for guiding the conversation -- which could go something like this:

"Hi, I just thought I'd call and say hi.  Hi.  And see how the weather is down there (Avoid this line if you're less than a mile from your agent's office.)  Just saying hello and checking in to see how everything is going -- I mean, not necessarily with my screenplay -- but just, you know, with the general... screenplay of life... that we all play a role in.  So to speak.  And like my protagonist, I'm just -- Hello?  Hello?

On second thought, maybe you better unplug it.

And I can give you the link for Used Cell Phones Are Us.

And probably the best thing you can do is -- uh, excuse me; I've got to go.  I need to go offline because my modem uses the same line as the one my agent calls me on.  



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