Looking back, looking forward

The past year has been a good one for Ki, with some significant and exciting commissions for our clients, and the arrival of Roz who’s already done her first deal as an agent.

 

It’s always hard to announce specific client news, since it’s so far in advance and we have to observe the sensitivities of the publishers and producers involved.  But I think it’s OK to congratulate Emma Adams on her first big TV commission, and announce a new book deal for Mike Carey.  We’ve got reasonable hopes for several films to start shooting this year.  News will be announced on the website and our Facebook page as it happens.

 

I find retrospectives generally dull, and – despite the global and domestic issues that have been worrying us all – there are reasons to feel cheerful about the coming year.  But, as always, we agents have work to do as well.

 

In the publishing sector, book sales have gone up by 5% after years of slow but consistent decline.  Areas of particular increase have been hardcovers and audiobooks.

 

That being said, the polarization of authors’ earnings has got to be redressed. The big names get larger revenues; the mid-career or less populist authors increasingly less. There are three areas I’m especially concerned about:

  1. Deep discounts – for a popular author, you can find that about 20% of their books are sold at the standard rate; and the rest at high discount;
  2. Special sales – large numbers of copies sold to places like The Works or The Book People for eye-wateringly low sums;
  3. Ebooks – publishers are resisting a review of the standard royalty, which was set at the emergence of this format years ago.

 

In TV drama, we’re seeing a boom in the quantity of commissions, as well as the quality.   Besides Netflix and Amazon, other companies like Apple and Google are getting into the act. We’re busy making the most of this increase in opportunity, but here too there’s a caveat: these companies are making their own content in order to gain market share and drive down revenue to the creators, and to avoid having to buy from other producers (who would charge them more for their better, premium content).

 

For the first time recently I had a ‘What is a film?’ conversation with a prominent producer.  What will make people make the trip to a cinema and pay the admission is under intense scrutiny.  That being said, box office takings are up.

 

I’m hoping, too, that the globalisation of media companies will give us some buffer against the political and economic turbulence we’re seeing right now.

 

We’ll all see if I’m right about 2019.  Meanwhile, Roz, Ruth and I wish you a very happy, productive and successful year ahead.

 

Meg


Writers are like buses...

Of course, nothing could be further than the truth, but in The Ki Agency world, we’ve just experienced a positive deluge of talented new screenwriters on our own doorstep. Not forgetting our early new signings in September this year, we have just signed FIVE brand new writers!

Following the quieter month of October and just like waiting for the irregular number nineteen bus in North London, we are now extremely proud to welcome, not only three but FIVE new people – ERICA HILLER CARPENTER & CARLYLE KING, a writing duo from LA, whose debut screenplay, THE ENGLISH BRIDE suitably impressed us, CASSIE JAUFFRET-LENZI, deserved winner of the recent Sitcom Mission (2018) with her jet black comedy about cancer and dating (!), THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS, PHILIP JOHNSTONE, a talented young Scotsman with a gritty writing style and last but no means least, SANDY NICHOLSON, a fascinating genre writer with a proud penchant for horror.

Managing writers’ expectations, regardless of age and experience is an essential aspect of any agent’s job. Naturally both agents and writers’ hopes will rise (all too often, up to sky-high) when a script is sent to a well-known and possibly a personal favourite film, TV company or producer. Trying to then elicit a response is a delicate matter and one where timing is all. Keeping cool during these periods is vital too as sometimes it can be a matter of days, weeks or even months. Prodding the people with power and money is part and parcel of any agent’s job, but to do so successfully whilst getting the best deal for a client, is certainly an acquired art.

Watch this space as we may have an exciting and important news announcement to make….

Roz


Horror is back, and it's cool!

Being spoilt for choice and running out of time is the norm at any Film Festival but this year’s London Film Festival’s cinematic riches were ridiculously impressive. Knocking off all the films that were due to open soon plus the ones that clashed with our diaries, film tastes or had instantly sold out meant a very peculiar mixed bag schedule. Kicking off with this year’s LFF with a literal ball of fire in Steve McQueen’s deeply powerful and fast moving thriller, WIDOWS, we were also spoilt with a Q & A with the great man himself plus the main cast including Viola Davis. If I then tell you that the next 3 films I saw all combined excessive 1970’s stylish retro influences and colours, buckets of blood with a sprinkling of wry humour you will be left scratching your heads, but this bunch included; SUSPIRIA, BEING FRANK & IN FABRIC. I won’t tell you anything else as all these films deserve to be seen knowing as little as possible – the internet floods us with far too many opinions. The last film I saw was a low-key Scottish romantic drama called ONLY YOU, shot in and around my home town of Glasgow. Looking towards the future, we (in North London’s Highbury & Islington) are about to have a very exciting new neighbour, LSA, Working Title’s new Film Academy for 16-19 year olds. It is due to open September 2019 and is a great omen for any local kids with an interest in film.

Roz


Update from Roz

So, it’s been a whole month for me at the Ki Agency and what a blast I’m having. It’s obviously quite
tricky to imagine how an agent actually finds any new writer let alone a decent one. Once again, as
previously stated I cannot give too much away as our competitors may be reading this. However, not
wishing to deliberately trip over writerly looking suspects in the street, neither do I run around with a
large butterfly net or a gleaming sword, hoping to nab or slay an unsuspecting wanna-be writer. I can
now proudly boast of signing up two super-talented young graduates; Moira James-Moore and
Andrew X. Fleming, whose work is outstanding – I look forward to help shape their future careers in
the flourishing UK media arena. There are of course many other writers whom I have “in my loop”,
who are at various stages of script development – some I am helping to improve their already
intriguing material and others are only at short script stage, so encouraging them to break out to
feature or at least an hour in length. Looking forward to various celluloid goodies at the upcoming
London Film Festival where I shall be searching once again for some unsuspecting new writers.

Roz's No. 1 Blog

My very first week of being an Agent was even more thrilling than I imagined it would be. Armed with a brand-new pencil case, I felt slightly like an over grown 5 year-old. I was already aware of my wonderful new office building (appropriately an old TV factory) and sampled the tasty coffee in the café downstairs. After impatiently ripping open the wrapping of my shiny new laptop, there was no stopping me and to my amazement there were already half a dozen e-mails awaiting my attention. I am genuinely impressed by the very high standard of some the scripts I’ve already had the pleasure of reading. There are so many different ways and means of finding new writing talent, but obviously I could never reveal tactics here. Trying to second guess what influential film/TV producers and drama commissioners are looking for is always tough but not impossible. Certain themes just like in fashion are cyclical, so the current demand for genre stories with a twist;  horror, crime, 1980’s set stories, anything female-centric is all fine with me as a female horror fan with a penchant for strong and distinctive individual “voices”. Originality, in any form is always a sheer delight to encounter and helping that talent to bloom in the market is a challenge, but one that I cherish. Send me a script that surprises me, scares me, moves me, makes me laugh or simply impresses me with its natural story telling abilities and I promise to react positively. Here’s to an exciting future at the Ki Agency.


Welcome to the new website!

Exciting new developments at Ki, with Roz joining as a script agent.  We've done a lot of work behind the scenes to create the new website, but inevitably there'll be some fine tuning to do.  We'd be grateful if you let us know of any problems with it.