Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Guest Blog: Landing that agent

Tripp Stryker continues his week of setting you guys straight. The Bitter Script Reader returns on Monday.

You know how Steven Spielberg got started? He snuck onto the Universal lot, found an empty office and acted like he belonged there. He carried himself like a winner and bluffed the guards and anyone who would have been in a position to stop him. He didn’t say “Gosh, I’m not allowed to walk onto this lot unauthorized! I’d better politely go away!” He said, “Fuck this, I’m walking on and I DARE you to throw me off!”

BAM! A few years later, he’s directing Jaws. Nuff said.

M. Night Shyamalan was once just a lowly guy in the industry who’s directing credits consisted of one little-seen movie, and a film for Harvey Weinstein that had such a contentious production that it didn’t get released for three years and then made less than $290,000. Worse, he pissed off Harvey. That was a career-killer back then.

Guess what happened? He wrote a script that was awesome and flat out said, “Not only will you pay me $2 million for this, but you’re gonna let me direct this and you’re gonna let me do it my way. Those are my terms.” If Night had polled the people on Done Deal Pro about his negotiating strategy, there would have been no shortage of people calling him a clueless dipshit who had no idea how the business worked.

That script: The Sixth Sense. $600 million globally, bitches! That’s taking control of your own destiny.

When I was looking to build my career, I didn’t sent lame queries in envelopes. I didn’t email agents with email addressess I pilfered from Done Deal Pro, either. I went straight to the source and got a meeting with a very solid agency. I won’t say which one, just that it can be abbreviated to three letters, and none of those letters are A or C.

This guy happened to be one of my dad’s oldest friends. Now I wanted to get there without Dad’s help, so I didn’t have him put in a word for me or anything. I didn’t call ahead – I just showed up at the office and said, “My name is Tripp Stryker and I’m hear to see my agent.”

Reception called up and the agent’s assistant knew nothing about this meeting. I said to put me on the phone and very convincingly told the assistant that he was going to put me through to my agent or else likely find himself out of a job tomorrow when his boss read in the trades that I went to a rival agency. That got the agent on the line and once he realized it was me, I was ushered up. All it took was, “I’ve got the next big thing. It’ll do for romantic comedies what The Matrix did for sci-fi.”

I walked out of that office about an hour and a half later with representation. The script was optioned within a week. It never got made, but I got assignment work off of it. Enough to keep me well-paid for years to come.

It can happen – and I didn’t have to go through a reader to get my agent.

All it took was confidence. This business rewards winners, people who not only believe in themselves, but stake their reputations on themselves.

Believe in yourself.

Wanna tell Tripp Stryker how good his advice is? Shoot him an email at


  1. So how did M piss Big Harvey off?

  2. Yeah, Tripp's a fictional character for sure. Neither a google search nor an imdb search turns up any such person. The only question is, what point is BSR making with this persona?

  3. I'm going to help out...

    The entire post can be summed up by the final statement: Believe in yourself.

    Thanks, Tripp. I, for one, am entertained.

  4. The story about Spielberg sneaking onto the Universal lot is a myth.

    Here's another story:

    Troy Duffy wrote a great script called THE BOONDOCK SAINTS, sold it, and became convinced that his shit did not stink. And using that supreme belief in himself, he managed to piss off all of his friends and colleagues (including to the aforementioned Harvey Weinstein). While his film eventually got made, became a cult hit, and landed him a gig directing a sequel ten years later, Duffy is widely considered a massive failure because he was far too confident in himself.

    So yes, "Believe in yourself." is a very important mantra for any screenwriter, filmmaker, artist, or just plain ol' human being. But a little humility ain't such a bad thing.

  5. DS - Duh. Did you honestly think Tripp Stryker would use his real name when posting a blog? Here's a tip; Bitter Script Reader isn't the blog owners real name either.

  6. That's it. I'm going up to the Universal lot tomorrow with a taser.

  7. @Nicklaus... Troy Duffy is the perfect story of Hollywood Douchebaggery. His 'Overnight' documentary was a perfect show of confidence gone wrong.

    I loved Boondock Saints, but All Saints Day blew pretty hard. All probably could have had a different outcome if he didn't burn all his bridges, and had not smeared his own name everywhere in Hwood.

    I'm curious to read/watch a followup and see if he's toned down his ways any.

    Where does 'class' play a role in this? Seems a lot of advice gears toward sneaking in and pulling a big con to get that representation.

  8. I'm with DS -- what point is BSR making with this "guest?" That he is even more bitter than we thought?
    As for "Tripp," I wouldn't wanna be in the room with this guy...besides, he's too connected and successful for us wanna be's anyway.

  9. Trip sounds like a winner!!! It's like he is the writer equivalent of me.

  10. I resent the intimation I don't exist. I'm as real as anyone else on the internet.

  11. By the way... Troy Duffy? One. Class. Act.

  12. Entertaining stuff in an era of girly men. Pull shit like that in my office, and you'd leave peacefully embarrassed or stay in great pain and bloody. Confidence is one thing, being a douchebag is another. Enjoy genital herpes, Sparky.

  13. Yeah, this guy -- whoever he is -- is a moron. Or a very clever joke to alientate BSR's readers.

  14. I'm just impressed that his commitment to the point that real screenwriters don't worry about wussy stuff like grammar, spelling and typos extended to the announcement that he was "hear" to see his agent.

  15. Also, he may have gotten on the phone with the agent himself, but he was only allowed a meeting because he knew the guy. His story isn't super relevant to those who don't have that connection.