Hi everyone, and on the blog today is a new interview for me.
Following watching The Deceived, a gripping thrillery twist filled Channel 5 drama, written by Derry Girls’ Lisa McGee (who I am a huge fan of), I was intrigued by the process of how screenwriters go through a similar process to authors.
I’m delighted to have the pleasure to introduce Nick Barron, Lisa’s agent. He very kindly took some time out to answer questions on how he became involved in the industry and what he looks for in a cracking good piece of television.
Over to you, Nick…
1) How did you first become involved in the industry? Did you always want to be an agent when you left school? Did you have any other career plans?
No – I didn’t know what an agent was until I was already working in the industry. When I was 11 and saw the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie I wanted to be a cheerleader or a buyer (‘it just sounds like a cool job – buyer, buying, to buy’). Then when I was 13 and saw Batman Forever I wanted to be a criminal psychologist like Nicole Kidman’s character and when I was 15 and saw Scream I wanted to be a screenwriter like Kevin Williamson. The psychology thing stuck and I did a degree in it until I realised that what I obviously wanted was to work in TV and film. So I got a job as a runner on factual shows like Wife Swap and Faking It, then went into drama as a runner at Kudos Film & TV where they were making Spooks, Hustle and Life on Mars at the time. That’s where I learned what agents are and what they do, so I got an assistant job at a brilliant literary agency and never looked back.
2) What are you looking for in a script? Do you look for a good character or is it the pace or plot that keeps you reading?
All of it really – compelling characters, a great story, natural and well crafted dialogue, subtext… It’s a bit hard to sum up in a hit list which I know is probably frustrating to hear, but really it’s more of a gut feeling.
3) You represent writers across a wide range of genres of television, film and theatre. What do you enjoy most about your job? Do you have a particular favourite out of the three?
I enjoy all of it. They’re very different in lots of ways, though the bulk of what I do is in television and I watch a lot of television and always have.
4) Can you describe the feeling of ‘I really want to represent this writer’? How do you feel when you offer representation?
‘Exciting’ is how I would describe that feeling. When you find a writer whose work resonates with you and who you feel really passionate about, it’s very exciting. And mostly when offering representation you feel hopeful that the writer shares your enthusiasm and that it’s the beginning of a long and productive relationship.
5) What is the editorial process like, working with your client on their material, once you have offered representation?
It varies from writer to writer as everyone is different.
I love the editorial side of what I do, it’s exciting talking to my clients about their ideas and their scripts and hopefully being a sounding board for them, someone who can offer them guidance and helpful feedback either before a third party is involved or alongside that process.
6) When you leave your desk on a Friday, what’s the first thing you do? On a Friday evening/the weekend, what do you do to relax?
Ha – well at the moment given what life has been like this year the first thing I usually do is walk into the living room to see my husband and kids. But once the kids are in bed there is usually a gin and tonic not far behind.
7) Through lockdown, what have you been watching on television? Do you have a favourite drama that you watch religiously or do you have any guilty pleasures?
I loved I May Destroy You and Normal People – and obviously my clients Lisa McGee and Tobias Beer’s brilliant thriller The Deceived. We’ve also watched a lot of RuPaul’s Drag Race in lockdown.
I had never really got involved until the UK version and now my husband and I are crawling back through the past seasons of the show – it’s good escapist fun after a long day.
I don’t have shows I re-watch endlessly but I have seen every episode of Buffy many times over and I can feel a re-watching of My So Called Life brewing – I’m a 90s kid.
8) If you could only listen to Rod Stewart, Freddie Mercury or Brian Johnson (AC/DC), who would it be and why?
None of them are my ‘go to’ but I would have to pick Freddie.
Thank you for your time today, Nick. It was a pleasure to interview you.
Bio: Nick began his career at RDF and then made the move into scripted, joining Kudos for 18 months. From there, he moved to The Agency, where he became a junior agent. In 2008 he left to join The Writers’ Company as an agent and eight years later took over the running of the business.
He joined United Agents in 2017 where he continues to represent writers, directors, producers and script editors working in TV, film and theatre.