motion picture production, branding


A CHAT WITH KEN ATCHITY

Dr. Ken Atchity, Ph.D.
  • Born Eunice, Louisiana.
  • Education B.A., Georgetown; Cambridge; M. Phil, Ph.D. in comparative literature, Yale.
  • Career history: Professor of comparative literature, Occidental College; "Distinguished Instructor," UCLA Writers Program (1970-1987).

  • Author of 13 books, including A Writer's Time - A Guide to the Creative Process, from Vision Through Revision (Norton), The Mercury Transition - Career Change Through Entrepreneurship (Longmeadow), and (with Chi-Li Wong) Writing Treatments That Sell Your Ideas To Films and Television.
  • Producer of 20 films for video, television, and theater, including "Champagne for Two" (Cinemax-HBO), "Amityville The Evil Escapes" (NBC), "Shadow of Obsession" (NBC), and "Falling Over Backwards."
  • Hobbies/personal interests: Collecting autographed editions and pitchers; tennis; travel.
  • Subjects/categories most enthusiastic about managing and producing: Fiction that can be made into TV or feature films; outstanding screenplays; strong nonfiction, especially with film potential.
  • Subjects/categories not interested in managing or producing: drug related; religious; category romance; short stories; poetry; and children's.

Q: What's the best way for a prospective client to initiate contact with AEI?
A: Send us a query letter (with SASE) and 30-50 sample pages or a 2-line email to jp@aeionline.com

Q: What is your description of a Client from Hell?
A: He or she is so self-impressed it's impossible to provide constructive criticism; makes his package impossible to open; and provides return envelope too small to be used.

Q: What is your description of the Dream Client?
A: He or she comes in with an outstanding thriller that's HIGH CONCEPT and CASTABLE, plus an outline for two more, and is delighted to take direction on the writing and the career.

Q: What is the most common mistake a potential client makes when soliciting you to represent them?
A: The most costly and time-consuming mistake is remaining ignorant of where your work fits into the market, and of who your reader might be... kinds of work (romances, light mysteries, episodic scripts) we're specifically NOT looking for.

Q: What can writers do to enhance their chances of getting represented by AEI (besides being good writers)?
A: Great writing, HIGH-CONCEPT, CASTABLE BOOKS AND SCRIPTS, and a determined, optimistic attitude ready to support a lucrative, lifelong career.

Q: Why did you become a manager?
A: Nearly two decades of teaching comparative literature (classics, Medieval, Renaissance, 20th century, mythology) and creative writing at Occidental College and UCLA Writers Program, reviewing for the Los Angeles Times Book Review, and working with the dreams of creative people through "Dreamworks" (which I co-founded with Marsha Kinder) provided a natural foundation for my new career. I made the transition from academic life through producing, but continued my publishing consulting business by connecting my authors with agents. As I spent more and more time developing individuals' writing careers, as well as working directly with publishers in my search for film properties, it became obvious that "literary management" was the next step. True stories, scripts, or novels, what turns me on is a compelling and dramatic story.

Q: What might you be doing if you weren't a manager-producer?
A: If I weren't a literary manager, writer, and producer, I'd be doing the same thing and calling it something else.

Parting words
Dream big. Don't let anyone define your dream for you. Risk it. The rewards in this new career are as endless as your imagination, and the risks, though real, are not greater than the risk of suffocating on a more secure career path. Invest in your career. If you're not willing to invest in it, why should anyone else be? Begin by learning all you can about the "business"of writing, publishing, and producing, and recognizing that as far off and "exalted" as they may seem, the folks in these professions are as human as anyone else. We're enthusiasts, like you. Make us enthused!


"The most useful style is clear, objective, honest and direct, in keeping with the dictates of Strunk and White in The Elements of Style."--Atchity quoted in"Professor Strunk and Mr. White's Little Book," Bruce Anderson, in CORNELL MAGAZINE May 1996