Film Agent Steve Fisher on Jack Reacher

 

Salt Cay Writers Retreat faculty member Steve Fisher, Vice President of the Agency for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles, recently talked to Karen Dionne about his  job as a film agent, what he looks for when considering a book’s film potential, and why he’s looking forward to teaching at the Salt Cay Writers Retreat.

 

What part of being a film agent do you most enjoy?

The most enjoyable part of my job unquestionably is interacting with creative people and having those conversations about turning a piece of material into a movie or series. To be able to work in the world of ideas is a wonderful thing, and I don’t take it for granted. I find the people in my business extremely interesting, occasionally challenging to deal with, but always intriguing.

Since I’ve always loved books–I was a voracious reader since I was a boy–and like everyone also love movies, combining those two passions in one profession is a great thing.

 

Do you have any Hollywood insider stories you can share?

jack-reacherI have one I can share, and it points out the hard-working nature of people in this business–even at the very top!

I was on the set of the film “Jack Reacher.” I sold the franchise to Paramount. We were in a quarry in Pittsburgh, and it was a miserably cold and wet night. They were filming the big mano a mano scene between Tom Cruise and the villain in the film. Cruise throws his gun aside and attacks Jai Courtney. He’s in a harness so when Cruise hits him his whole body lifts as it hits the building behind him.

We (the producer, director, Lee Child and myself) watched it on video playback and it looked great. But Cruise was unhappy–he thought the prop guy pulled Courtney a beat too soon and it looked wrong. He went back, time and time again, in the cold and rain to keep doing it until it felt right. And as it turns out–he was correct! That final take looked even better. I was bowled over by his work ethic.

 

What do you look for in a novel when considering its film potential?

I look for a fleshed-out lead character, a plot and concept that feels fresh, and writing that’s elevated beyond much of what’s on the marketplace.

 

What do you enjoy about working with writers?

I really do enjoy working with writers because you can have those creative conversations that are so interesting to me. I don’t have the patience to do what writers do–face that empty page every day and create something big a step at a time.

But I like to think I have good creative instincts and know what works in a movie. So I like being a creative partner of sorts to writers who are looking for input, or just advice as to what they should be keeping in mind if they eventually want a film or TV deal.

 

What about the Salt Cay Writers Retreat are you most looking forward to?

The Salt Cay Writers Retreat is going to be a fabulous opportunity for writers who are fortunate enough to be able to go. The setting can’t be beat, but beyond that the isolated nature of the retreat means there will be few distractions for writers and a real chance to focus on doing good work.

Plus the activities planned give attendees a great opportunity to bond with and get to know the presenters in a relaxed setting, and that can only be a good thing for them and a benefit to their writing.

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steve fisher-closeupSteven Fisher began his career in television  journalism in New York.  He worked as the Head of the Research Department at World News Tonight with Peter Jennings for several years.  He also produced and wrote anchor copy for CNN.

Moving to Los Angeles, Steve worked at ICM, Innovative Artists, and H.N.Swanson before that firm was acquired by The Renaissance Agency.  He represents screenwriters, television writers, and novelists in the film and TV arena.

His client list includes Dorothy Allison (National Book Award nominee for “Bastard Out of Carolina”); Alison Bechdel (author of the acclaimed graphic memoir “Fun Home); Robert Stone (National book Award winner);  estate of Arthur C. Clarke; Patrick O’Brian (“Master and Commander” series); estate of Truman Capote;  Lee Child (“Jack Reacher” franchise released by Paramount at the end of 2012  with Tom Cruise starring); Jim Sallis (author of “Drive”, which opened on 2800 screens in 2011 with Ryan Gosling and  Carey Mulligan ; bestselling suspense author John Saul;  John Connelly, and Pulitzer Prize winners Phil Caputo (“Rumor of War”), Gregory Maguire (“Wicked”) and Burrows & Wallace; and journalist Nancy Jo Sales (writer of Vanity Fair’s “Bling Ring” article, the basis for Sofia Coppola’s next film opening in May).

He is currently a Vice President  of Agency for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles.

 

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