How does Netflix find and produce new content?
To someone outside the business, or just breaking in, Netflix’s process for finding new shows and films may seem at best confusing and at worst completely random. But there is a method to the madness of production and quite often an agent is present through all steps of screenplay development.
So, let’s demystify the process of how to find a Netflix agent for you.
Do You Need an Agent for Netflix?
In short: absolutely, YES you should have an agent when working (or trying to work) with Netflix!
Having an agent (or film lawyer) will greatly increase your ability to work with Netflix. Not only can this person be your point of contact with Netflix, but having someone to work out contracts, payments, and all the rest of the business-oriented details will allow you to focus on your primary goal: writing a great script that will sell!
If you don’t have an agent yet, don’t be discouraged. According to the Netflix Help Center they are willing to work with any person who has a prior working relationship with Netflix. That can mean a producer, director, showrunner, or any other creator who has previously worked with the streamer.
So technically speaking, an agent is not necessary to get your script sold, however, it is highly recommended and will make your job a whole lot easier.
But here’s another thing. A commonly asked question is does Netflix have their own literary agents?
Like many other major production companies, Netflix has licensed literary agents who are responsible for acquiring the rights to books and other written work that can be adapted into films or television shows. These agents work with authors, publishers, and other literary reps to secure the rights to stories and characters that Netflix wants to bring to its streaming platform.
How Much Will Netflix Pay for a Script?
Netflix can pay as little as the Writer’s Guild (WGA) minimum of $12,000 for a script, or, depending on prior credentials (and who you may or may not be represented by), well into the millions of dollars.
The price a script fetches ultimately depends on the quality of the script itself, and the writer’s body of work prior.
If a writer has a proven track record of commercially successful films, they are more likely to get paid well up front for the script, or even just an idea or treatment. However, relatively new writer may also do well if they present and pitch a script that stands out as exceptional.
Netflix is a studio looking to make the best of the best and has more than enough money to spend on it. Whatever your status in the industry, having an agent or lawyer representing you is going to increase both your likelihood of selling a script and the total compensation by the end of it all.
What Agents Work with Netflix?
To find an agent that works with Netflix, you’ll have to hang up your writer’s hat for a moment and put on your detective cap. Finding an agent that works with Netflix will take a little digging because as of right now there is no such thing as a “Netflix Agent”.
To clarify, there are absolutely thousands of agents who work with Netflix, just none who are direct employees of the streaming company. So how does you, the amateur detective, find a “Netflix agent”?
Luckily there is a database dedicated specifically to documenting cast and crew information about film and television productions: The Internet Movie Database, better known as IMDb.
If you look at any Netflix-produced project it will give you a list of credits for every person who worked on a given film or TV episode. Along with other useful features, an IMDB Pro account will give you access to the contact info for a number of agents and producers within the industry who have worked on Netflix projects.
Do not just send out emails or start cold-calling every person who’s ever worked on a Netflix project. Not only is this a waste of time, it’s incredibly rude and may ultimately be counter-productive. No one likes an unsolicited call from a stranger asking for a handout.
Most agents have an IMDb page where you can review their body of work, see who they represent, and view their contact info if you have a Pro account.
Your goal should be to try and build a genuine working relationship with anyone you reach out to. Choose projects you like or are at least familiar with before sending a message to anyone in the production team.
See what other work they have done; does it fit with the work you are trying to do? If it does, try to connect naturally through industry events or seek an intro through a common contact. Everyone knows someone in the industry. It’s just a matter of figuring out who and how.
If you’re shy, or aren’t sure that you’re quite ready for an agent, a great route to consider is submitting your writing to screenwriting contests.
Doing well in a screenplay competition not only gets your script in the hands of industry professionals, but if your script does well it will bolster your resume for when you do have meetings with agents and executives who are looking for a reason to choose you over any of the hundreds of submissions from other writers out there.
If you think that’s your best angle for finding a Netflix Agent, here is an updated list of the 15 Best Screenplay Contests to enter in 2022.
No matter your situation, make sure your materials are ready. Put that writer’s hat back on. Is your script solid?
Do you have a query letter ready to submit? Is your pitch on point? Expecting to land a Netflix agent without preparation is like expecting to solve a mystery without any clues.
If you have a great script there is an agent out there who will be more than willing to help you. Great scripts make money and when you make money, agents make money. Fun fact: Agents love making you money.
Now that you know how to find a Netflix agent, go out there, get representation and get your script made. (And maybe even make some money along the way.)