Name: Christina Pickworth.
Agency: Imagine Talent.
What was your first job in the industry, which led directly or indirectly to your current agent role? I started as a runner at a production and finance company, which mainly involved a lot of making tea and a lot of photocopying – but that can teach you so much. I remember reading all the contracts I was copying and starting to get a feel for the way deals work. At that point I had no idea where I’d end up so I just embraced everything. You never know which skills are going to come in useful later on.
There’s no specific agent qualifications, so what would you say best qualifies you to do your job & allows you to do it well? As well as having experience in finance, legals, production and development, I’m also a writer too. I know what it’s like to get notes that feel like a slap round the face and I think that’s helpful, not only in solving creative problems with a project when it’s not quite right, but also how to pick yourself back up after some bad news.
What routine, if any, do you look to start each working day with? I’ll always start my day prioritising what I need to get done, what I’d like to get done, and the other things that can wait if necessary. The to-do list is always very long! Sometimes something urgent crops up from nowhere so it’s a constant juggling act.
Lift the lid as best you can, and describe a typical working day? I don’t ever have a typical working day really as the work is so varied and no two days are the same. I always have scripts to read but they have to slot in around emails and pitching meetings. Or I might be catching up with a client for a coffee, doing a set visit or heading to a screening.
What do you feel a client and agent should expect of each other in the course of a fruitful working relationship day-to-day? Trust, honesty and respect. I’m always really honest with my clients about their work, which might not always be what they want to hear but I think is really important. It means they know that if I think something is great I really mean it.
Is there a typical process that sees a first enquiry turn into a working client relationship? I don’t have much time to read unsolicited material and usually I prefer a recommendation from a producer or script editor as I get representation requests most days and you just can’t look at everything. I think sometimes writers forget that in order to read a feature script I’m going to need to set aside a couple of hours to read it. If it’s a client’s then I’ll also need time to think about it, and then time to write them notes. It’s laborious and is on top of an already busy workload, so there has to be something that catches my interest, which I’m afraid there isn’t a magic formula for, you just know it when you see it. If I decide to read/watch something then I will get to it as soon as I can, and then if I like it the next step is usually to have a meeting.
What is the best way to approach you, or any agent, with a view to representation? Is there one part of an approach that makes you think this client is or isn’t for me? For me, if someone can recommend you then great, that will catch my attention. Otherwise briefly outline a little about yourself and include any initiatives you’ve been a part of or accolades you’ve already achieved. I want to see what you’ve already been doing to further yourself and your work. Of course your writing/directing sample will have to be excellent too!
Is there any part of your day-to-day work that manifests itself in evenings & weekends? All of it at some stage or other. Sometimes because of workload, other times because of tight deadlines. Networking events and screenings are often in the evenings too.
What one piece of advice would you give to a writer just starting out? Read as many scripts as you can. It’s a great way to understand structure and how screenplays work. Good ones will inspire you and bad ones will teach you so much about how not to do things.
What one piece of advice would you give to your younger self? It will all be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.
Favourite film? I’m always a sucker for a disaster movie – Armageddon is a great film!
Favourite TV program (currently or all-time)? My current guilty pleasure is Masterchef Australia.
Favourite book? I love hearing my husband read The Highway Rat (by Julia Donaldson, illustrations by Axel Scheffler) to our little boy – he does a brilliant Ray Winstone impression for the rat!
Favourite director? Steven Spielberg.
Favourite writer? I saw Nancy Meyers speak at BAFTA recently and now I’m dying to revisit all of her films.
Favourite actor (male or female)? We have a rule that if we don’t know much about a film but it has Denzel Washington or Gene Hackman in it then it can’t be too bad.