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One script? 4 scripts? 10 scripts?
At least 2.
When an agent is ready for you.
Best thing to do is focus on production companies. Start with small ones. Get one interestered in your project and getting an agent will be a piece of cake.
I agree with both Terry and Eric...
Going after an Agent is a big step. You have to be really ready.
You can have 10 scripts but if they aren't polished and ready for production...it means that you have 10 scripts in your computer.
Like Eric said, spend your time submitting queries to Production companies and get good quality reads.
Once you get a good bite from one of them, you will find yourself in a position to submit to an Agent with something substantial.
Often Agents are like bank loans, you can only get one when you don't need one anymore.
Listen to what Eric says.
You could spend an entire year sending out 800 or so query letters/return postcards, etc. and never get a response (no matter HOW MANY screenplays you've written).
But you do need MORE THAN ONE SCRIPT to get anyone's attention.
I will NEVER believe that anyone can know everything there is about Screenwriting--and have the next "Marathon Man"--with their first script. It's a learning process.
Even the most well-educated people, I don't believe, can do it. Have you ever noticed that those who are extremely educated--can be the slowest? It can take them ten-15 minutes just to get a joke. It takes them forever to answer a question (to even open their mouths). And they're usually not very multi-tasked. Many feel it's because they have to seriously analyze EVERYTHING!
An Agent, Manager or Lawyer are NOT going to bank on you with just one script. No one wants a "one hit wonder." Patrick Duncan wrote 101, I think he said, before he finally had one produced.
And I don't want anyone to say, "But what about AMERICAN BEAUTY?" HELLO! He wrote for television for years before he ever wrote that screenplay.
Well, actually an excellent example of a "one hit wonder" was the recent oscar win of Diablo Cody. The woman, a former stripper who just got out of prison, handed a HANDWRITTEN script to a producer and BAM, a year later she wins an Oscar for it. She is now signed on to write another screenplay for a top actress. I guess you have to be in the right place at the right time.
I think Cody is in a different league because she was writing a blog about stripping, someone approached her because of the blog and then she wrote a script. She had a connection and a story.
For those people cold-calling agents it is difficult for a newbie with no connections to get an agent with only one script. Two might not be enough, but it is certainly the least you should have.
Cody Diablo also wrote a book based on her life as a stripper. That's what really opened the doors for her.
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