Foreign manager

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  • Foreign manager

    hey all

    would love some advice on my current rep situation.

    I have agents in the US who I am very happy with. They bust their ass. They're always setting up great mtgs for me, send me v interesting projects, clearly "go for it" and value me. If I bring them a gig, they jump in and start negotiating hard.

    I am happy to pay them commission.


    Then there's my manager in Europe. This person has repped me 5 years. I got one job through her- at the very beginning of our relationship. The only one. Since then, nothing. She has sent me several assignments, but they've all been dead ends. What I mean is that they fizzled out into nothingness. They were nothing burgers that took up a ton of my time. Furthermore, I always feel like the people and the projects I am getting are really random. Like... a little disappointing.

    I pay commission to this person as well, on all of my projects. Which are pretty much all US-based.

    I am hitting a wall.

    The wall is: my manager hasn't brought me any work in 5+ years. Every now and again there's a good meeting. But I paid her commission on 3 gigs in a row she had virtually nothing to do with. And there are more gigs around the corner she will have nothing to do with. I kinda feel like I'm paying to keep her around.

    My question is... should commission be contingent on how much work your reps are bringing you?? OR are we paying commission based on the effort they put in?? I know it's hard to get things past the finish line. I have sympathy for her. But I feel like I am starting to make excuses for her shortcomings. The batting average is piss poor. I thought it was me but I had some very positive things happen lately (in the US) and clearly it has raised questions about her performance.

    Obviously this would be a non-issue if I were to simply pay commission on a per-project basis... i.e. if something originates in the US, my US reps would get paid and not my European reps. But I don't know if that's common practice or not.

    Thoughts would be hugely appreciated.
    Last edited by TravisPickle; 06-04-2020, 02:52 PM.

  • #2
    Re: foreign manager

    I'll refrain from directly giving advice because I think you're a little further along in your career than me. Plus, I'm currently having awful anxiety about staying with or leaving my own manager, so I'm not one to talk.

    But I wanted to chime in anecdotally to say that a director I've worked for had a similar issue. Both his reps were stateside. His agent was busting his hump and making meetings and deals happen. His manager ... not so much since they'd started working together. And because he was fortunate enough to be working regularly he found himself in the same situation as you. And he was sick of paying an additional ten percent to his manager for not doing anything. He finally ended up parting ways with the manager. Since his agent was still making stuff happen (and because director was making moves on his own as well) nothing slowed down for him. I don't think he regretted leaving. It saved him some much needed money and when the opportunity came later to work with a new manager he connected with, he was free to jump at that opportunity.

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    • #3
      Re: foreign manager

      thanks bud. I think it's a common problem.

      it's funny because firing your rep when you're having "a moment" in your career can be seen two ways:
      1) Writer: "holy crap, I was good all along- they did nothing for me, they were the problem, not me"
      vs.
      2) Fired Rep: "you sumbitch, we were with you when you were begging for scraps, we answered your e-mails when nobody else would, and now that you've finally gotten to a good place you get rid of us? You ungrateful mothafakker"



      Originally posted by JS90 View Post
      I'll refrain from directly giving advice because I think you're a little further along in your career than me. Plus, I'm currently having awful anxiety about staying with or leaving my own manager, so I'm not one to talk.

      But I wanted to chime in anecdotally to say that a director I've worked for had a similar issue. Both his reps were stateside. His agent was busting his hump and making meetings and deals happen. His manager ... not so much since they'd started working together. And because he was fortunate enough to be working regularly he found himself in the same situation as you. And he was sick of paying an additional ten percent to his manager for not doing anything. He finally ended up parting ways with the manager. Since his agent was still making stuff happen (and because director was making moves on his own as well) nothing slowed down for him. I don't think he regretted leaving. It saved him some much needed money and when the opportunity came later to work with a new manager he connected with, he was free to jump at that opportunity.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Foreign manager

        Did you manager in UK right help you get US agents? Are they friends?

        Because if you are ready to make the leap -- who is getting you the jobs? Agent or yourself? -- then I'd talk to US agents that you're thinking about making a change and see what they say.

        Sometimes they are friends and it make it hard as they are watching both their backs.

        But sounds like you already made up your mind.

        A manager should be doing more than agents if it's working right from what I understand. As a person who has been repped a lot, I know that's not always the reality. But I heart that's what usually happens if it goes well.

        Manager does the heavy lifting, agents sell/contracts.

        I find so many times the writer is getting their own gigs too.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Foreign manager

          You x-ray visioned the situation Bono...

          - manager is v tight with agent and even with my attorney. A few years ago I switched over from a 3-letter agency to another 3-letter agency and my manager helped navigate that process - although the key word is “helped” , not “introduced”.

          - I get most/all of my gigs. But my agency is really helping in terms of attaching talent or just jumping in with the negotiation as soon as I loop them in. That’s what I mean about the manager being completely absent: she didn’t even get CCed on emails about contracts or job offers.

          - It’s hard to define a dead end assignment versus something real. But what I noticed with my manager is that the projects I was offered were usually requests to come up with takes that went nowhere. Like “here’s a random idea from a random producer, can you make a movie out of it”. That to me is not a job offer - it is a waste of time. Sure, let me take two months out of my life to read 16 books on Russia , write a take for free etc just because some guy wants to make a movie there. ��


          Originally posted by Bono View Post
          Did you manager in UK right help you get US agents? Are they friends?

          Because if you are ready to make the leap -- who is getting you the jobs? Agent or yourself? -- then I'd talk to US agents that you're thinking about making a change and see what they say.

          Sometimes they are friends and it make it hard as they are watching both their backs.

          But sounds like you already made up your mind.

          A manager should be doing more than agents if it's working right from what I understand. As a person who has been repped a lot, I know that's not always the reality. But I heart that's what usually happens if it goes well.

          Manager does the heavy lifting, agents sell/contracts.

          I find so many times the writer is getting their own gigs too.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Foreign manager

            So recently you fired old agents at XXX to go to new agents as YYY and kept your manager over the XXX agents? So how did manager survive that cut then?


            And yes when one rep helps you land the other rep (not that this town isn't small already) they are usually tight and it's awkward talk when you want to leave one of them.


            What are the things the manager does well for you? Do you run ideas? What do they do? And how are they the right fit for you? So am I to assume the manager lives in your country and you also don't like in LA?

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Foreign manager

              Originally posted by TravisPickle View Post
              hey all

              would love some advice on my current rep situation.

              I have agents in the US who I am very happy with. They bust their ass. They're always setting up great mtgs for me, send me v interesting projects, clearly "go for it" and value me. If I bring them a gig, they jump in and start negotiating hard.

              I am happy to pay them commission.


              Then there's my manager in Europe. This person has repped me 5 years. I got one job through her- at the very beginning of our relationship. The only one. Since then, nothing. She has sent me several assignments, but they've all been dead ends. What I mean is that they fizzled out into nothingness. They were nothing burgers that took up a ton of my time. Furthermore, I always feel like the people and the projects I am getting are really random. Like... a little disappointing.

              I pay commission to this person as well, on all of my projects. Which are pretty much all US-based.

              I am hitting a wall.

              The wall is: my manager hasn't brought me any work in 5+ years. Every now and again there's a good meeting. But I paid her commission on 3 gigs in a row she had virtually nothing to do with. And there are more gigs around the corner she will have nothing to do with. I kinda feel like I'm paying to keep her around.

              My question is... should commission be contingent on how much work your reps are bringing you?? OR are we paying commission based on the effort they put in?? I know it's hard to get things past the finish line. I have sympathy for her. But I feel like I am starting to make excuses for her shortcomings. The batting average is piss poor. I thought it was me but I had some very positive things happen lately (in the US) and clearly it has raised questions about her performance.

              Obviously this would be a non-issue if I were to simply pay commission on a per-project basis... i.e. if something originates in the US, my US reps would get paid and not my European reps. But I don't know if that's common practice or not.

              Thoughts would be hugely appreciated.
              Hey Travis, noticed we’ve had some back and forth in the past about reps in the pm section. Your UK guys are who I used to be repped by too. I moved over with the partner of the company when he left his agency to set them up. He’d been my agent for 3 years prior and went from being an awesome agent to doing very little for me. His focus shifted with being one of the founders of a new company with additional responsibilities on the producing side. I was frustrated and left them after a year or so. Within three months of this my new agents had set up four projects that had sat idle there. I bumped into my old agent (manager?) in soho last Christmas. Not seen him in a long time. He was cool. And just last year I was up for a writers room on a show they were producing. So no hard feelings. It sounds like you’ve got a good thing going with the US folks. If you want to keep a foothold in the UK market then maybe talking to the US team first and getting their take on it is the way forward. They’d be able to recommend another agent that they work well with. At the end of the day it’s business and if you’re fair and honest about why you’re moving on they can’t really hold that against you. It’s the same when they cut clients.

              Perhaps the big thing to consider here is where you see yourself operating primarily. UK or US. If it’s both then yes, it makes sense to have reps actively working for you in both pools. If it’s mainly the US then your American reps are more than capable of setting things up for you in the UK/ Europe when you have something that fits that market.

              I’ve never liked the fact that UK agents get a slice of US earnings. If you have a US lawyer, then the British agencies do very little to earn their cut on a deal. Different if they're doing the legal side of things though. Not to mention, having UK, US reps and a lawyer can make it less desirable for US reps, as they’re only getting 7-8% commission on a deal.
              Last edited by Mintclub; 06-05-2020, 03:30 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Foreign manager

                Some interesting stuff here to expand upon. All of what I am about to say is broadly the way it is though there are always exceptions to the standard...

                First, the UK really has managers in name only. They are in competition with UK agents rather than being complimentary to each other like in the US. No one has a UK agent and a UK manager. Really, UK managers are mostly agents who are producers. UK agents are like a US agent, manager and lawyer all in one (few in the UK have a separate lawyer as well, the agency handles it).

                US and UK representation, for those who have both, used to be separate from each other in terms of commission. There were UK jobs and there were US jobs and each commissioned their own territory. This changed for two reasons; first, the UK agents got tired of discovering, nurturing and breaking in clients for very low commissions only to see them go off to the US and make a fortune. Given they hadn't been fired, they felt like they deserved a cut. This feeling wasn't just about having done the hard part of breaking in a new client, it also went to the second reason which is that the business went hugely international with the introduction of streaming and the lines between a UK and a US job got very blurred. Now, a job can require the combined talents of reps on both sides (e.g. US rep calls the US network to push you for a gig, while the UK reps cover the UK producers). For that reason commissions started to be split and anyone with a US agent, US manager and UK agent is probably on a 7/7/7% split (still 4% less that a normal US client on 25%!).

                As to whether you keep your UK manager, that's about their value as a manager beyond putting you up for UK jobs (of which there are few). Are you getting career guidance? great notes? and all of the other parts of representation that aren't as directly quantifiable as jobs?

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