Join Date: May 2007
Re: Managers -- What Is and Is Not An Ideal Relationship
Okay, let's see...
what would you like them to do that they do not do?
I'd say put me up for OWAs, though those seem to be few and far between at this point in time. Also put me in the room with some heavier hitters.
how often do you communicate with your manager?
Really depends on what's going on. If we have a script out, then every day and sometimes more than once. If I'm working on something, he'll leave me alone (unless he's asking where's the draft). The more irons in the fire, the more you talk if there's something to talk about. And there's random stuff that pops up. I recently had an agent from one of the big three reach out in a not-too-subtle attempt to poach me, so we talked about that. And yesterday he randomly sent me a YouTube video that related to one of my scripts.
how do they guide your career?
See my answer for strategic plan below.
what is a fair turnaround time to read your screenplay (any draft)?
Mine's great at reading fast, especially when he's excited about something. I usually try to get something ready for the weekend, and he'll typically reach out by Sunday to set a call for that week.
how do they communicate their notes on a draft?
Always on the phone. Notes calls on a first draft could take a few hours. We might break that up over a couple of calls. Subsequent drafts take less time on the phone. And once we get to touch ups and slight tweaks, he'll just send an email.
do they have a strategic plan to develop your career in the first year, 5 years and beyond?
I've come to the realization over the years that this is best answered by the writer, and your manager helps get you there. Too many writers expect their managers to come up with PowerPoint presentations that detail every step of the way to a sale. Honestly, you can't let your reps lead you around by the nose. And if they're trying to dictate what you should write, then that's really the basis for a relationship that will ultimately end badly. I've been in those writer/manager situations before more than once, and it always ended the same way. Writers need to have a clear idea of what they want to write and what direction they want their career to go, and then hook up with reps who will help fine tune your goals and then push forward.
For example, I went to my manager early on and told him explicitly that I wanted to write a Black List script. Reason being, I wanted to get on the Black List and give myself a much-needed boost. So we went ahead and did just that. Now I'm writing an original script that we hope has a great shot because it's commercial, and I have a little more heat/clout because of the BL. This is a path I thought of and he's helped me move it along.
Also, it's perfectly okay to have a manager help you pick an idea to write. You might think that you have a killer idea, but they'll have the more objective view and will tell you it's not that killer, or that there are three other competing projects out there, or that another one of their clients is working on something similar and there's a conflict of interest. You want your manager to be 100% invested just as much as you are.
what are your biggest disappointments with having a manager?
I don't have any major disappointments. I really like my manager and we work well together. I do wish he was stronger in TV, but I'm happier working on features right now anyway. I'm pretty jaded with the TV world at the moment (and if you've read my other posts recently, you'd know why!)
what were you not expecting (good or bad) that impacted your writing?
I don't understand the question.
what would you have liked to ask before you signed that you didn't ask?
Can't really think of anything, to be honest. I did my due diligence this time around, largely because I didn't do it in the past. I researched online, found interviews, I came up with a list of questions and asked those when we spoke on the phone and met in person, and I reached out to 3-4 clients to get their opinions. That was a crucial step, imo, and really helped me make my decision. They all sang his praises, so I was confident when I agreed to sign. And so you know, this process took a couple of months. I was meeting with other managers, which he knew about, and took my time to weigh my options. That's also a key test, seeing how they react to you meeting other managers. If they're pushy or trying to pressure you in anyway, that's not a good sign. Mine was chill, and he told me to reach out whenever I came to a decision and he'd be there. And he was.
what were your initial expectations of having a manager? which ones were realistic and which were not?
My very first expectations were to develop a feature and then have it go wide, complete with a listing on Tracking Board. I really wanted to finally have that experience of seeing my script go out into the world and have multiple producers "walk it in to the territories." And my expectations were filled.
what are the best aspects of your manager relationship? what are their greatest strengths and their greatest weaknesses?
Best aspects are developing material and getting it out far and wide. He's great at getting his writers attention, he makes sales, and he hustles his ass off. Biggest weakness is not having connections to the bigger financiers, but that will get better. He's always hustling, in a good way!
what would you tell a writer who doesn't have a manager, what they should know and understand before going in?
Just do your due diligence and know exactly who you're getting into bed with. Take your time and make the right decision. Don't feel like you have to rush into signing just because someone's taken an interest in your work. And if you have only one interested, but you're getting a bad vibe, just walk away. Better to have no manager than a bad one.
do they send you an active list of open writing assignments? or is this strictly an agent's responsibilities?
I haven't seen one yet, but I'm guessing my agent would have better access to that stuff.
Hope this helps!