Parting ways with manager - advice needed

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  • Parting ways with manager - advice needed

    I've been with my current manager for about 10 years, and we're nearing the end of a long development process on an action/thriller which we think has a cool character and a tremendous franchise potential. The script has undergone a series of rewrites that have in overall strengthened the narrative but in the last year or so I have found myself being pushed off the page, and at times completely as nothing I have written or write seems to be of good enough standard. I understand that after all this time insecurity about prospective passes and mild paranoia creep in but the fact that I am more of a typist rather than a writer who contributes something tangible has started vexing me as he has become more controlling about the validity of his own ideas/contributions.

    Last year I had another script placing well in a competition, and my manager agreed to take it out to producers. He did a round of submissions, but dropped the ball as there was no interest due to the script's premise (incest). Last July I sent the same script to an Emmy award winning DOP, who is a personal friend of mine, and he agreed to come on board as the cinematographer. I went back to my manager and told him that we ought to capitalize on this and get the script out to producers again. He did nothing for a few months, and I found myself again being the one who was insisting and persisting about taking the script out. During the past year, the guy had some major health issues, and I didn't want to come across as an insensitive prick who only cares about himself, and so I was very mild in my approach. After a lot of discussions toward the end of 2020 with regards to attaching cast and taking the script out to a specific bunch of producers (related to demographics), he has only done a few submissions.

    Over the course of these years, we has been evasive on certain issues, i.e. finding me agent. This coincided with WGA's most recent campaign, and he told me back then that this is not a good time to seek an agent and such. Back then, this seemed to be rather logical but now that the campaign is over he hasn't brought back the issue. He has also been evasive (what I would describe politely forgetful) in sending me a list with the submissions he's made, and a few other minor things along the way.

    I've reached a break point where I really do think that our relationship is dysfunctional (something I have told him at some point in the past) and that I need to part ways with my manager and look elsewhere for representation. However, I am worried about this script we've been working on all this time as he seems to have a claim on it and it won't be easy for me to find another representative who will be willing to go wide with it with my old manager still on board one way or another. It is also evident that he only agreed to take the other script out solely because he was scared about me pulling the plug on our relationship if he didn't do it. Something that also pisses me off as I've been working on this script every day for almost 3.5 years.

    It seems I have to deal with a dilemma/catch-22 situation in which parting ways with the guy at this point does not seem to be a valid option, but again staying with him also does not seem to be a valid choice anymore.

    I have often thought about being patient and see where the first script will land me then part ways with him, but again I don't know how this move will be received from other industry insiders due to disloyalty (and I understand that had I acted like this I'd be very cynical). Am I being too emotional and should suck it up and carry on instead or tell him out right that this is not working?

    I would appreciate any advice you can afford to spare. Happy to provide clarifications on aspects of my professional relationship with my manager, but please refrain from posting knee-jerk reactions and condemnations as I do not find them constructive.

    Thank you for reading, and apologies for the length of this post.
    Last edited by spacefarer; 02-23-2021, 07:34 AM.

    "Artificial Intelligence will never match the efficiency of Natural Stupidity"

  • #2
    In 10 years have you seen any positive results or made money? I don't know why you're still with this person after so long if that's the case -- and I'm even more confused as to why the "manager" is still with you if that's the case.

    Is this someone that really believes in your talent and never let go -- or is this a person who is bad at his job?

    I recall your handle and I feel like we've talked about this exact question before. It sucks, but from all I know it's time to part ways as manager. You can just keep working on the ideas you had together in producer terms as to me that is what this person appears to be to me.

    And many managers are more interested in the producing side of things than the managing side. It's tough to find the right match.

    I've had many managers and a few agents... I'm still trying to make it. You can get someone else too. Don't feel you can't.

    My successful friends -- who had movies come out -- just had to switch managers. It's not a newbie only problem.
    Last edited by Bono; 02-15-2021, 10:56 AM.

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    • #3
      Thank you for chiming in, Bono. I appreciate your response.

      The truth is that I have anticipated that he's working on this script more as a producer than a manager, and this is not something that bugs me per se. It is that he has been dishonest about it as he wasn't upfront either.

      The real question is what I can do, now or when the script goes out, that I don't end up being even more screwed that I feel I am now. Him producing the script gives him a certain claim on sequels and such, unless I am wrong on this one, and what I am afraid is that I am going to be cut out of the equation if and when we get to this.
      Last edited by spacefarer; 02-16-2021, 07:31 AM.

      "Artificial Intelligence will never match the efficiency of Natural Stupidity"

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by spacefarer View Post
        Last year I had another script placing well in a competition, and my manager agreed to take it out to producers. He did a round of submissions, but dropped the ball as there was no interest due to the script's premise (incest). Last July I sent the same script to the Emmy award winning DOP of Game of Thrones and Justice League, who is a personal friend of mine, and he agreed to come on board as the cinematographer (through a letter of intent which was provided by his agent at WME). I went back to my manager and told him that we ought to capitalize on this and get the script out to producers again. He did nothing for a few months, and I found myself again being the one who was insisting and persisting about taking the script out.
        There's a lot in your post to unpack but I will focus on this section. If he did a round of submissions and there was no interest due to incest (big surprise!) then how was the ball dropped?

        Also, how was there anything to capitalize on by attaching a DOP? Attachments are for name actors, directors or producers who are added value to a studio or network. If anyone has to look the name up on IMDb, they add no value to the project. By attaching a DOP you made it harder to get a director as no director wants a DOP imposed upon them. This is in no way a slight on the DOP who is Emmy winning fantastic but this goes to the reality of attachments; you actually made the script harder to sell.

        You have major issues with your manager/producer but I'd say that not going wider with a DOP on the incest script isn't one of them.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Northbank View Post

          There's a lot in your post to unpack but I will focus on this section. If he did a round of submissions and there was no interest due to incest (big surprise!) then how was the ball dropped?

          Also, how was there anything to capitalize on by attaching a DOP? Attachments are for name actors, directors or producers who are added value to a studio or network. If anyone has to look the name up on IMDb, they add no value to the project. By attaching a DOP you made it harder to get a director as no director wants a DOP imposed upon them. This is in no way a slight on the DOP who is Emmy winning fantastic but this goes to the reality of attachments; you actually made the script harder to sell.

          You have major issues with your manager/producer but I'd say that not going wider with a DOP on the incest script isn't one of them.
          Agreed, attachments can be really really useful but they have to be the right attachments. On the TV dev side, the attachments we look for are exciting writers, exciting actors, and sometimes directors (if the director is an exciting name). Cinematographers don't move the needle, unfortunately. And Northbank is 100% right, directors usually like to work with cinematographers they know. Maybe you can pitch producers that this script is what your award winning cinematographer wants their directing debut to be? But ultimately, I'd cut your manager some slack on that.

          Also, and I recognize that I can't fully judge without having read the script, but if an incest script came across my desk at the prod-co where I work, it'd be a really hard sell (even if it came from a top writer with a top manager).

          It sounds like the real problem you touched on is that your manager isn't getting excited about the projects you're writing or wanting to write. Have you had "the talk" with your manager yet, where you really lay out how you're feeling and see if there's some way to come to an understanding? Not an understanding about the incest script - It sounds like he tried getting traction on it and couldn't - but about where you two are in your relationship, what you'd like to see him her or her do more, and what they'd like to see more of from you.

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          • #6
            I'm assuming it's "Incest" in the GOT sense -- but I could be wrong. David O Russell's first film was Spanking the Monkey. In other words -- I don't judge by an off putting topic. Topics like this show up in real life and in books/tv/movies for years.

            I'm only put off by real life bad things, not fictional works of art. But that's just me.

            I am not planning a comedy incest script though, but I'm just assuming the script is more than just that or else why would 10 years be spent on it? And franchise and sequels? So that's why I thought GOT more than a weird romantic comedy between a brother and a sister.




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            • #7
              Thank you Northbank, JS90, and Bono for your the replies. There's a lot I need to mull over, and yes, I may need to have yet another discussion with my manager.

              All the things about the incest script are noted, and I was aware about the prospects of attaching a DOP, but since this will be a vehicle for my directing debut I thought that getting him on board might be a good move. This is not a studio project, but an independent one and that is why we didn't go out wide with it. At the moment, we're focusing on producers based in Europe. In terms of the premise, the incest element is something that happened in the past and motivate the actions of the villain rather than something we see on the screen in the present.

              My problem is not the above script but how I can walk away from an action/thriller we've been working on for almost 10 years. First, it will be a cynical thing to do. Second, I don't think I will have much luck with other managers as no one will touch it since my current manager can argue that he has a claim on it due all the time spent in development.

              "Artificial Intelligence will never match the efficiency of Natural Stupidity"

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              • #8
                I thought you were working on incest script for 10 years. Either way -- 10 years on any project when you're not James Cameron and making 3 Avatar sequels is insane. Again, I ask why would a manager put that much time into one project? Best case for him is what 10%? Back end as producer? I mean I'm very confused. I figured the 10 years working on a project was for some epic GOT level stuff or Star Wars franchise deep world building stuff -- adapting novels -- something insane -- not an action/thriller.

                Your next spec should be a comedy about development hell.

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                • #9
                  Ha, tell me about it. Dude, I've been talking to this guy for two hours almost every weekday for the last ten years, developing this script. On the flipside, we had to put the script through two major incarnations which needed a lot of rewrites so to iron out all the issues arising in the script's logic.

                  I don't know what he has to gain out of this. I assume he will be attaching himself as producer otherwise his 10% does not make sense. He must be seeing this as his big chance to make it. I really do not know. But I know some of his other clients and he is legit.

                  So I am confused as hell. He has always been a nit-picker but the last two years has become obsessed with changing everything, and is very controlling and at times manipulating. ****, he is even more motivated than I am nowadays as I had enough working on this script.

                  "Artificial Intelligence will never match the efficiency of Natural Stupidity"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by spacefarer View Post
                    I've been talking to this guy for two hours almost every weekday for the last ten years, developing this script.

                    I don't know what he has to gain out of this. I assume he will be attaching himself as producer otherwise his 10% does not make sense. He must be seeing this as his big chance to make it. I really do not know. But I know some of his other clients and he is legit.

                    He has always been a nit-picker but the last two years has become obsessed with changing everything, and is very controlling and at times manipulating. ****, he is even more motivated than I am nowadays as I had enough working on this script.
                    I know nothing. Grain of salt and all that. Other commenters are being nice. Allow me to say what I actually think.

                    You've been talking to this a-hole for TWO HOURS A DAY for TEN YEARS on ONE EFFING SCRIPT???

                    And ALSO you don't even know if he's attached as a producer?!!! He never bothered to tell you? You're too afraid to ask?

                    And ALSO he's obsessed with "changing everything" and is also CONTROLLING and MANIPULATING????

                    And you want to know what to do?

                    This is what you do. Advocate for yourself -- and RUN!!!!!!!

                    RUN from this mother-effer right now. You owe this a-hole absolutely NOTHING as he has done absolutely nothing for you for TEN YEARS except jerk your ass around.

                    Cut ties. Do it now. Do it by email and then don't return his emails. Block his emails. Block his phone number. Let him fall off the face of a cliff and say, Sayonara, C#cks#cker!! There is literally something incredibly wrong with this person, or no way in hell he would be dragging out rewrites on something for ten years OR 3.5 years, with no indication that anything will ever come from it. He sounds like a psychopath.

                    Free yourself!!! If you have to bury this script, then do it. DO IT!!!! Write another script!!!

                    I don't care who his other clients are -- YOU'RE his client, this is absolutely INSANE, and he's treating you like a pile of ****!!! And you're worried about his feelings? He has no feelings. He's SATAN! RUN!!!!!!!!

                    Take a step back. Look at what's going on. And LEAVE!!! Quit rationalizing terrible, terrible treatment from this absolute c#cks#cker.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by spacefarer View Post
                      Ha, tell me about it. Dude, I've been talking to this guy for two hours almost every weekday for the last ten years, developing this script. On the flipside, we had to put the script through two major incarnations which needed a lot of rewrites so to iron out all the issues arising in the script's logic.

                      I don't know what he has to gain out of this. I assume he will be attaching himself as producer otherwise his 10% does not make sense. He must be seeing this as his big chance to make it. I really do not know. But I know some of his other clients and he is legit.

                      So I am confused as hell. He has always been a nit-picker but the last two years has become obsessed with changing everything, and is very controlling and at times manipulating. ****, he is even more motivated than I am nowadays as I had enough working on this script.
                      TWO HOURS ALMOST EVERY DAY FOR 10 YEARS ABOUT THE SAME ONE SPEC?

                      You have talked to your "manager" more than I have to my wife and we've been together since 1995.

                      3 different presidents have happened since you started working with him on this one project.

                      I want to read the book about what is going on. I can't tell if this guy has been hired to get back at you -- do you have a really angry ex-finance? Did you kill his dog?

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                      • #12
                        Your next script needs to be about this relationship. A deep dive into the psychological dependency and manipulation. Wait until time passes and you can laugh about it. It will make a great dark comedy. Wishing you well.

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                        • #13
                          At least, guys, you made me smile

                          "Artificial Intelligence will never match the efficiency of Natural Stupidity"

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                          • #14
                            You made us smile because this is obviously a hilarious Andy Kaufman like joke on us right?

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                            • #15
                              I met a manager who worked like a boot camp individual. He would make 20 phone calls before lunch.
                              And 20 pitch letters to prospects before 3pm. And then research till midnight. He's good. And he gets around solid 1 to zero leads per year.
                              That's life. That's the business.

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