FOUR PIECES OF ADVICE FROM AN EX-LITERARY MANAGER TO WRITERS, DIRECTORS, AND ANYONE ELSE LOOKING FOR REPRESENTATION.
by Jenny Frankfurt.
Before founding The Finish Line Script Competition, I was a literary manager for almost 15 years. I worked in New York and Los Angeles and represented writers, directors, and producers. The relationship between writers and their manager is a special one, mainly because managers are there to help develop and guide a client’s career. An agent, for those who are often confused about the difference, is there to field offers, submit long lists to studios, networks and producers, and hope someone calls. The manager makes the calls to push the writer amongst the many others submitted for a project and so it’s a personal experience with both writer and manager needing to commit fully. So how does a relationship like this work and how do both sides get the most out of one another and therefore their careers?
Now that I have a manager can I sit back and relax?
Writers – you must be proactive. Every client I took on had something to bring to the table other than their writing. They were active in writing groups, they knew producers, actors, or directors and were actively working on their own to get work before I came along. Some of them were working on short films. One of the things managers find attractive about taking on a client other than their writing talent is that they bring opportunities that the manager, with their contacts and outreach, can make happen and help negotiate. This is an added bonus to the relationship, and it’s also here where the manager can help determine what might be a good career move to make. Not all opportunities are good ones and having someone who sees the bigger picture can either help facilitate them or say, “not now”.
What should a writer ask of their manager?
Managers must have a plan. I have spoken to countless writers who feel discouraged by the lack of activity a manager is garnering for them. When I was a manager, I would construct a game plan for each client because I didn’t approach each with the same set of tools in my manager toolbox. Some were high concept writers; others were into indie films. Some wanted to direct what they wrote, others were not from the US and wanted to keep their toes on both sides of the pond. It is perfectly acceptable and in fact, necessary, for a client to ask their manager what they plan to do with a certain script or what the beginning of their relationship will look like. This ought to be done not by challenging the manager, but by acknowledging that you expect results. If the manager is serious about working for you, they will show you a plan or at least discuss people and places they intend to send your work.