photo of Nancy Nigrosh

“A manuscript or screenplay editor’s work is very similar to a film editor’s in selecting and combining parts of a story, then layering them to arrive at emotional truths. Much of my work as a literary agent began at the inception of a story idea all the way through the finished product then strategically marketing it.”

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Nancy Nigrosh is a former talent and literary agent at Innovative Artists and at The Gersh Agency in Los Angeles. She entered the motion picture industry while a student at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts by collaborating on a screenplay with her writing professor Terry Southern (Dr. Strangelove, Easy Rider); at that time she was also hired as a script supervisor for Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets. Her mentors encouraged her to move to Los Angeles and while still a graduate student at UCLA’s MFA Screenwriting program, she worked as a film editor, joining IATSE Local 776.
From 1982-1993, Nancy headed the literary department at the Gersh Agency. She represented a number of writer/directors, including Kathryn Bigelow, who later became the first woman to earn an Academy Award for directing The Hurt Locker. Nancy was a champion of both Bigelow and Nicole Holofcener (Friends With Money) for many years early in their careers. In addition to Bigelow, Academy Award winning clients included editor Gabriella Cristiani (The Last Emperor), novelist/screenwriter Budd Schulberg (On The Waterfront), Ernest Lehman (North By Northwest, The Sound of Music) and Barry Morrow (Rain Man), who also won an Emmy for writing Bill.
Some clients’ work was groundbreaking, such as African American screenwriter/playwright Richard Wesley’s Uptown Saturday Night and Native Son; the coming out experience, as written by Natalie Cooper for Desert Hearts; Richard Boyle was nominated for an Academy Award for co-writing Oliver Stone’s Salvador; while Barry Morrow’s Rain Man, gave Hollywood its first look at an autistic adult. Other clients included Robert Altman collaborator Frank Barhydt (Short Cuts), Kathleen Rowell (The Outsiders), Mary Agnes Donoghue (Beaches, White Oleander), Don Jakoby (Blue Thunder, Arachnophobia), Bill Phillips (Christine), Christopher Wood (Moonraker, The Spy Who Loved Me), and writer/director Al Magnoli (Purple Rain). In 1993, Nancy retired from agenting, and moved back east with her family. Then in 1998 she returned to Los Angeles with her young daughter when she was invited to join Innovative Artists’ Literary Department. At Innovative, she signed an unknown screenwriter, Stuart Beattie. Nancy asked Beattie to write two ‘spec’ scripts. The first, Lords of The Sea, about contemporary high seas piracy, though aggressively marketed, did not sell but attracted the attention of producers and studios and resulted in Nancy pitching Beattie to Disney to write Pirates of The Caribbean. The other spec, Collateral, sold to Dreamworks. Michael Mann directed the film that starred Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx.
Nancy’s 11 year tenure at Innovative included charting the careers of talent clients who also were multiple award winning writers, producers and directors: John Cameron Mitchell, Julie Delpy, Mario Van Peebles, Joan Chen, Chad Lowe, Sean Astin, Isaiah Washington, with the legendary Sammo Hung among them. Mark and Virginia Spragg’s original spec script, An Unfinished Life, was directed by Lasse Halstrom. Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Lopez starred. Other clients included author Amanda Brown (Legally Blonde), William Mastrosimone (Extremities, Into The West); Academy award winner Ernest Thompson (On Golden Pond); Leon Capetanos (Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Fletch); Lorenzo Semple, Jr. (The Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor); Luke Davies (Candy), Robert Caswell (Cry in The Dark, Something The Lord Made); Mike Cerrone (Me, Myself and Irene, The Three Stooges); filmmakers Peter Bogdanovich, Mark Rydell, Chris Eyre (Smoke Signals, Hideaway) and George Cosmatos (Rambo II, Tombstone).
In 2008, Nancy retired again from agenting to earn her Master of Arts in Education degree from Antioch University in 2011. Since 2009 Nancy has served as a judge for UCLA’s Master Screenwriting Competition. She also teaches at UCLA’s Writers’ program, and is a frequent contributor to Indiewire.

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