Bill Shakespeare: An Agent’s Dream Client

Many writers often mistake writing as a source of personal identity, instead of a job, a business or a product.

The original Greek dramatists celebrated the gods in their work, but they had no issue claiming ownership as authors. They were successfully self-promoting to the extent their work is still performed and still attracting profitable enterprise. If the Greeks are too distant a reference, let’s take a look at the king of all the writing gods: Bill Shakespeare.

He is unmistakably the consummate businessman who founded a repertory company, secured patrons, erected a theatre, and promoted its product while writing some of the world’s greatest plays as a line item alongside all the rest. He is the credited writer of over 1,000 screenplays. At this very moment films based on his work are being prepped, while countless theatrical productions of his work are being performed all over the world.

Pirates of the Caribbean

ARGH! The Pirate Guy: A Dream Client

As head of the Literary Department at The Gersh Agency and team member of both the Literary and Talent departments at Innovative Artists, I not only had an eye for talent, but also the ability to develop it.

Every so often, a rare individual would come from “nowhere” with a level of raw talent who exuded the promise to become a dream player.

A producer I knew and trusted referred a writer named Stuart Beattie. He was from Australia, and totally unknown – at the time working as a waiter. But, I saw superstar potential, and signed him. I asked Stuart to furnish two ‘spec’ scripts. The first, Lords of The Sea, was an international thriller about contemporary high seas piracy, chockfull of technically detailed action. My marketing strategy for the script attracted the attention of major producers and studios, and resulted in my pitching Stuart to Disney to write a film script based on the theme park ride, Pirates of The Caribbean. At the time, the idea of turning the ride into a film franchise was only a notion, no more than a glimmer in the studio chief’s eye. Stuart’s draft was able to get the project out of the station and onto a fast track. The other spec, Collateral, I sold to Dreamworks. It became the Tom Cruise/Jamie Foxx film directed by Michael Mann. For his role in Collateral, Jamie Foxx was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, while the year before, Johnny Depp received a Best Actor nomination for his role in Pirates, which by that time had become a mega hit.

A Dream Client: She Yearned To Go Pro And She Did!

A Dream Client: She Yearned To Go Pro And She Did!

Hollywood code is universally understandable, but not everybody can adapt to it. Fluency is relative to aptitude. Cinderella could go to the ball because not only did she look the part, she played it, because that’s who she truly was – a heroine not a victim. In other words, Cinderella went “pro”.

Did she bring her childhood trauma with her to the ballroom? Did she mention all her prior hardships and lack of opportunities? Was she intimidated or distracted or critical when her stepfamily showed up at the ball? Think about the way she expresses herself – in a situation she’s never been in before, in a privileged world where she has no place. Yet, telepathically, she knows the appropriate, coded behavior.

Hollywood code is very often non-verbal on the one hand, then ultra verbal on the other. A typical discourse isn’t just about expressing literary knowledge that is skills and rules based, but laden with opportunity to openly validate any experience-driven understanding of the meaning inside that knowledge. In Hollywood, ‘meaning’ is a technical and industrial term that refers to the meaning of life…regardless of genre… even in silliest comedic terms. Subsequently, patterns of interactive role-playing are deeply institutionalized in those still standing corridors of Hollywood power master scribe William Goldman talked about. Those corridors may be more accessible than you might think…entre is all about your focused ability to adapt while staying authentically yourself…like Cinderella.