Launch Pad: Mini Series – Our Interview With Launch Pad Judge & Paradigm Agent Adrian Garcia!

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“If you score in the top percentage of this competition, I guarantee you every producer in town is downloading those scripts and looking at them.”

In this special edition of the Mini Series, our interview series, we’ve set out to meet with Paradigm agent and 2015 Launch Pad Pilots Competition judge Adrian Garcia. This year, Paradigm has had one of the most successful track records of any agency, having set up ten projects in March alone, consisting of pitch sales, book properties, and specs. Paradigm also had nine specs on the 2014 Hit List and repped five writers on the 2014 Young And Hungry List. Paradigm’s David Boxerbaum and Ellie Schiff are also both judges for the 2015 Launch Pad Pilots Competition.

Adrian is a Lit Agent at Paradigm, but has previously worked at both Resolution and CAA. Adrian, along with David Boxerbaum, represent Launch Pad Features Alum Eric Koenig, who’s Launch Pad script Matriarch sold to Paramount. We sat down with Adrian to discuss the Launch Pad Competition, what he looks for in projects, and what stands out in the television landscape.

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What do you think makes the Launch Pad Competition different from other ones that you’re aware of?

 

695501cd-2384-4455-8e04-ac1e745e4039 There are these screenwriting competitions that say, ‘hey if you win this, you‘re gonna be a star.’ Whereas this program has really launched people’s careers and set projects up, even with last year being the first year you guys did it. The judges in this town matter. It’s not just some advisory board that has so and so. When people cold query me and say, ‘Oh, I won this, I won that.’ it doesn’t really move the needle for me.

The Tracking Board competitions, from the Young and Hungry List to the Launch Pad competition, I think really has people looking at it and trying to replicate what you guys are doing over there. With the pilots competition, it’s so unique that you can really open up doors of people that you would probably never read.

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Why do you think the Launch Pad Competition is the place to get acclimated with new writers and new material?

 

 
If you score in the top percentage of this competition, I guarantee you every producer in town is downloading those scripts and looking at them.

AG: I tell people all the time, if they write a pilot and they’re unrepped, ‘ you should really enter this competition,’ and this is one of the only few competitions that I can tell people about. This will mean something if you do well. Otherwise, I really won’t read them. I really won’t, I just don’t have time. From the current clients that I have and the company’s clients, I really don’t have time. But if you score in the top percentage of this competition, I guarantee you every producer in town is downloading those scripts and looking at them. The reps are looking at the scripts, the ones that float to the top. There is a sea of people that think they can write. If you can sift through that and find something that makes you say, ‘this is a great voice,’ I think people pay attention to that immediately.

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⇒ Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got your start.

 

paradigm I served in the army for three years after high school. I fell in love with movies, wanted to always be somehow involved in movies. I ended up going to school at Colorado State which didn’t have a film program. I didn’t know what I was doing, but fell in love with journalism. I thought I wanted to be a 60 Minutes news producer and was always watching combat journalists. And that’s what I really thought I wanted to do was be a storyteller, being a 60 Minutes news producer. And then it was about junior year, I started thinking, ‘how does one go work in the film business?

I found this program, at UCLA, this Summer Institute and Motion Picture Producing that actually Tanya Cohen (Agent, Verve) was in as well. We were both students in it, and it was kind of an overview bootcamp of what the industry is. You were supposed to intern during the day and so I got linked up with Thunder Road and I was there, on the lot, while Basil Iwanyk (Producer, Thunder Road) was off doing Clash of The Titans.

I’d never really read a script until I came out to LA. And I excelled at writing coverage because that to me was news writing. It’s like writing an article and taking a bunch of information and turning it into a lively article that has no opinion about it. And I looked at material very differently I think than most people that went to film school. Ultimately, CAA brought me back in. I got hired for a floater position and floated for six months, knew I always wanted to be in MP Lit. In working for Basil, I would read tons of scripts and books, and I became basically Basil’s personal reader while I was there. I just loved it, loved it to death, loved reading, loved writers, directors and that’s something I knew I wanted to do. After, six months at CAA, I got linked up with Rich Green.

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What was it like coming up under Rich Green?

 

 

AG: The best mentor to this day. I still talk to him and ask his advice. I worked with him for two plus years and thought I was going to do the studio production route. And then, he called me in his office one day and said ‘Friday’s gonna be my last day at CAA. You know I’m going to this place that Jeff Berg is starting up.’ It didn’t even have a name at that point. I said, ‘I’m loyal to you and your clients. Let’s go.’ And I was there from day one at Resolution till the end. I saw the build up and also the crashing down and it was a great experience. I got promoted off of his desk after about two months. I was technically a coordinator in the books department, but I was book to film and television, had my own books and stuff I co-represented, and was also discovering these cool contest scripts left and right. Something would get passed around or I’d hear about it. I look at the Black List last year, and I had four scripts on there.


I’m learning from everyone. I don’t pretend to know everything.

But also, I had conversations with like another nine of those writers. It all just kinda reaffirmed what I was doing. I went through the trials and tribulations of Resolution and it falling apart. Martin Spencer and Adam Kanter are great mentors to me that I worked with at CAA in their brief stint over there as well. They brought me into Paradigm, and Rand Holston was big about making me a part of this company.

Everybody else from Dana Spector, etc., everybody’s just wrapped their arms around me since I’ve been here since November. And really learning from Mark Ross to David Boxerbaum to Valarie Phillips, that’s the greatest thing I can say about this place. I’m learning from everyone. I don’t pretend to know everything, I’ve always been that kind of guy. I’ve always loved to be mentored and love to find people to mentor, myself. David from day one has taught me how to sell a spec, and Mark Ross has taught me how to do everything from studio coverage to just, everything. That’s the great thing about this place, I’m just learning everyday from great colleagues.

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⇒ What was your big takeaway from Resolution?

 

 

 Having no rules and doing my thing. Dealing with coming from the biggest of the big in a place that has everything and every toy to a place that’s fresh and exciting but also dealing with not being the biggest place. Also, having wins like setting up North of Reno to missing out on some client signs and unfortunately clients leaving and so forth. It was a great experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world because I learned a lot from being there.

I like to say it was bit like Goldilocks where CAA was too big, Resolution was too small, and this (Paradigm) feels just right, the right size and the right company I could be at. And it feels great to be part of being the underdog and that’s why I liked being at Resolution. It was being the underdog even though now we have the infrastructure and people that understand how to do things.

The takeaway from Resolution is that it was crazy, but I had a lot of great colleagues that I do miss to this day. And I have nothing but love for all of them like Rich Green. There was a moment where I was hoping that he would come over here, but now, he can just be my mentor and friend rather than having to be my boss and fellow colleague. It’s good for our friendship. He texted me the other day like, ‘My assistant couldn’t get me that London Book Fair tracking that you used to always get. You sir are a hard one to follow.’ And I was just like, ‘well, gotta have the skills, you know?’ (laughs)

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Who in your opinion is crushing the spec and sales market this year?

 

AG: Oh, it’s David Boxerbaum without a doubt. To be able to learn from him, that is a gift. He showed me Matriarch and said, ‘you should read this and ‘I’d like for you to join me and help me with this client.’ That’s his client that he invited me to work with him on. I have to say I’ve never seen anything like it, how you take a spec out like that. And this was like week one of being here and to see him take it out on Monday and sell it Tuesday night preemptively to Paramount. I’m in awe of that guy. He is the master at doing that. He truly is. I’ve never seen anything like it. People try to replicate and try to do what he does, and they’re nowhere close. He’s taken me under his wing and shown me how to do things and how to get things done. It’s a blessing for me and my career.

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Who are some of your favorite writers?

 

 

AG: Love David Guggenheim, obviously. Love Carter Blanchard. I’m a huge J. Michael Straczynski fan. But if you wanna talk about some of my all time favorites, I’d say Mike Vukadinovich. Stephany Folsom is also one of my all time favorite writers.

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⇒ Is there anyone you have your eye on that hasn’t quite blown up yet but you could see doing so?

 

AG: Oh, it’s Stephany Folsom. It’s Stephany for sure. I think she’s the real deal. I think she’s gonna be a Nicole Pearlman. I really do. Warner Bros. has her doing Missing You, but when I read 1969: A Space Odyssey (or How Kubrick Learned to Stop Worrying and Land on the Moon), nobody was talking about that at the time. I think John Patton Ford is amazing. My guys Derek Mether and Andrew Bozalis, I think those guys are gonna be massive one day like a Guggenheim, hopefully, or Adam Cooper and Bill Collage.

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⇒ What are some of the things you look for in writers you sign? 

 

Still From “The Walking Dead”

What I look for are interesting voices. I mean it could be a world that’s super tiny. It doesn’t have to be the elevated genre — The it’s on a spaceship, etc., which I love. But, it needs to have interesting voices that you want to come back to every week and hear from — because that’s what I think even The Walking Dead is. The Walking Dead has characters that you want to see grow. The thing that I look for when I look at pilots is, ‘how are you gonna grow with these characters?’

Perfect example: I work with these writers Banipal and Benhur Ablakhad. They sold North of Reno. They wrote a pilot that is just fantastic that you want to come back to every week and see how the characters are going to grow. I love movies where you can go in and sit down for two hours, and then it’s done. I love that. But, I also love when you can get to something where you must turn in every week like Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, or Game Of Thrones. I love that kind of stuff. I’m so picky about television. I want to be invested to where I have to tune back in each week. It’s such a writer’s medium. You can tell these stories, and you want to show up for these characters. You want to turn in for the season finale of The Walking Dead, and you want to see what’s going on next. It just doesn’t end.

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What Is Your Favorite TV show?

 

 


The thing that I look for when I look at pilots is,
‘how are you gonna grow with these characters?’

AG: I would say it’s The Walking Dead. It used to be Sons of Anarchy and then it went off the air. The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, and Game of Thrones are my favorites. I just fell in love with Breaking Bad over the break. I started from the beginning and watched it all the way through. Then I literally got done, as Better Call Saul started, so it’s great. You get to go back and see these familiar faces.

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⇒ So out of the things that you do get a chance to read, cause I am sure your stack is very high, is there anything that you do look for? And is there something that you are hoping to read from the competition?

 

 
I want something that’s going to want me to have to read episode two. I want to see where the season goes. I want to continue this story.

AG: I want something that’s going to want me to have to read episode two. I want to see where the season goes. I want to continue this story. I can’t say that about a lot of pilots I read. I go, ‘Well that was fine.’  What’s going to make me want to follow this arc and where is it going to go? How am I going to learn from these guys? How am I going to see them grow and change? That’s what life is. Again, I’m tipping Max Landis off in saying that’s why you want to tune into wrestling every week. And I am using this on a bigger, macro level.

You want to tune in and see people grow because that’s life. That really is. I have so much respect for that guy after he put that video out. I always loved him as a writer, but after he kind of broke down storytelling using wrestling. Hands down, it’s the perfect example of why TV is so great. And why you kind of want to follow these stories week to week to week.

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Finally, is there anything specific or advice you can give to a writer thinking about entering the competition?

 

AG: Put your best foot forward, ‘cause you only get one read. {Laughs} I mean, this better be the best thing you’ve ever written, and you should know where that story is going to go, not just that pilot. Know where it’s going to go, not season 1, but season 3, season 5, etc. and know how all of these characters are going to grow. Because that is a question you are going to get asked when they read that pilot. They’re going to want to know: where does this go?

 

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Contributor Miley Tunnecliffe is Fremantle-based actress and screenwriter, known for the short films “Love in a Disabled Toilet,” “Bye Bye Lulu,” and “Barnesy’s Numbers.” Her comedic road-trip script, “Run Santos Run,” recently placed in the top 5% of 7500 unproduced screenplays entered in 2014’s Academy Nicholl Fellowships. She is also a co-head of Red Milestone Productions, which is based in Western Australia.
Twitter: @mileytunn

 

Look out for the next Mini Series coming Tomorrow!

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The 2015 Launch Pad Pilots Competition is now accepting submissions!

Submit Here!

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Still quiet here.sas

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