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March 03, 2007

Secret Agent Man: Ain't No Biz Like Show Biz

"Hollywood is the one place in the world where you can die of encouragement." --Dorothy Parker

"I read part of it all of the way through." --Samuel Goldwyn

With few detours, my firm, Hull McGuire PC, represents publicly-traded and often well known companies based in the US and Europe. We have the talent and drive to attract and keep big game, often in the automotive, steel, transportation and energy industries, so why not? We avoid individuals, even very rich ones, and also steer away from small to medium sized businesses. Both are often unsophisticated in the use of lawyers--they can't tell great ones from good ones from mediocre ones--and that is not our idea of a good time. While all clients are treated very well (that's an understatement), we'd rather answer to a General Counsel. No use in having your own firm and working your ass off with with smart lawyers unless you get interesting work from smart, appreciative clients. It's hard, high-pressure work, but we love it.

But here's something even harder, involving individuals, but just as much fun. About 5 years ago, and because of my frustrated writer's love of films, literature and the theater, I started to represent novelists and authors who wanted to turn their works--both fiction and autobiographical--into feature films. My niche is books which are critical if not commercial successes and need scripts and/or treatments (the latter of which I often work on myself). It's the hardest work I've ever done--and the ups and downs are manic and brutal. But it suits me: it combines story-telling, writing, selling, business and law. It's taken me to LA, where I made my first live pitch three years ago, to NYC, where I struck out in someone's office after blowing a meeting so badly all I could eat for the next two days was crow, and even to Manchester, England, where Granada Studios handed me my first rejection in 2002. (Pippa Cross herself yelled at me on the phone re: an adaptation she didn't like).

The rejections (except Pippa's) come with "encouragement"--and the trick is to separate the constructive criticism from the BS. So I love Ms. Parker's quote above. I'll write about our new cottage industry from time to time under "Secret Agent Man". In the meantime, a question: you know any good writers with a good published story? Compelling is required. Difficult artists welcome.

Posted by JD Hull at March 3, 2007 08:57 PM


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