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Julian Friedmann Interview

Posted on 04 June 2004. © Copyright 2004-2018 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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WriteWords talks to literary and screenwriting agent Julian Friedmann, of major agency Blake Friedmann, whose clients range from new hot bestelling novelist Joseph O'Connor to writers for the Bill and Bad Girls.

Tell us all about you and the agency

The Agency doesnít specialise Ė we do film, television and books of all sorts although we tend to concentrate on literary novels and commercial fiction and upmarket non-fiction rather than childrenís books and the book agents donít tend to do science fiction or fantasy. We have four agents and three assistants and receive upward of 8,000 applications from writers a year to join the Agency. We take on relatively few new writers each year and therefore we need to be really convinced of the writerís talent and earning ability before weíll take them on. We do actually have quite a large number of relatively unproduced or unpublished writers at any one time but we have to be careful about adding too many to that list.

Tell us about your clients

They range from young to old, from experienced to inexperienced and many of them become close friends. Itís one of the nice things about working for yourself that you donít have to represent anyone you donít want to. We have some high profile projects like Joe OíConnorís STAR OF THE SEA which was the biggest selling novel last year in Britain and Gilbert Adairís THE DREAMERS which was Bertolucciís latest film. At the other end of the spectrum we have first novelists and a number of writers who write TV series episodes like A TOUCH OF FROST, HEARTBEAT, THE BILL, EASTENDERS, BAD GIRLS and BOMBER.

What kind of writers are you looking for at the moment?

We tend to be interested in writers rather than pieces of work but I am becoming more focused on writers who have got something to say, who know how to say it in an accessible way, who have proved that they can work in the industry and deliver on a regular basis. In terms of subject matter weíre very eclectic.

Favourite writers?

My favourite writers (in a purely subjective sense)are probably James Thurber and Damon Runyan. This is probably because they were the writers who really got me interested in writing many decades ago. I donít read nearly as widely as I should because with 200 clients at the Agency and all the material that gets offered to us I donít really have much time to read outside work but Iím very fond of shows like COUPLING, SPOOKS and I really enjoyed the movie ETRE ET AVOIR.

What excites you about a piece of writing-

What excites me is very simple: when I get emotionally engaged with the character. No plot however dramatic can ever do what careful manipulation of the emotions can do.

How do you respond to unsolicited writing- do you give feedback?

We get too much material to give detailed feedback to everyone. If I read five pages of a script or a manuscript and decide I donít want to take it any further I havenít really read enough to give much feedback. I do encourage writers to set up writersí groups or join writersí groups and in ScriptWriter magazine weíve published two articles on different forms of writersí groups because writers do need feedback however we donít get paid to provide feedback and if we gave detailed feedback on every submission weíd go out of business within a week.



A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.







Comments by other Members



Al T at 12:01 on 04 June 2004  Report this post
Hi Julian, many thanks for sharing your thoughts with us at WW. As an unpublished, unrepresented novelist, I found your last paragraph particularly interesting. We get so much contradictory advice on how to submit, but your view makes lots of sense.

Also, as someone who has previously submitted work before it was ready, I value your thoughts on that. Many of us are naturally impatient to kick off our literary careers, but it seems clear that we do ourselves no favours with excessive haste.

Thanks again,

Adele.

Elsie at 20:18 on 04 June 2004  Report this post
Thanks Julian, very interesting - and I wasn't aware of the scriptwriting magazine.

halfwayharry at 10:48 on 05 June 2004  Report this post
I agree with Adele, I was convinced that the first draft of my novel was fantastic in a 'stream of consciousness' way. I have since realised that my writing style needs to be worked on. It's mainly impatience as I want to write then submit. The biggest discipline I've learned from this site is to write. put it to one side and then re-write as many times as it takes.

Thanks for your advice Julian, it makes a lot of sense.

Peter

anisoara at 16:02 on 05 June 2004  Report this post
Thank you. I found this useful.

Ani

Zigeroon at 13:13 on 16 June 2004  Report this post
Julian

A good insight into the need to revise until the thing is ready to release and the absolute need for the first few pages to reflect the whole and that whole to be as good as the first five or so pages.

Thanks for the insights.

Andrew





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