Question by Missy: How does a screenwriter get a manager?
Where to look and how to contact?
Answer by CBA
Once you complete your screenplay, and have a satisfying draft (you are ready to shop it around) you need to register your story with the Writer’s Guild of America, West before you try and find representation.
You do not need to copyright the material, just register it. Now you can go out and find representation. It is very, very, very hard for first time writer’s to sell their material without representation. It is possible, but not recommended. To find representation, you will need to pick up a copy of The Hollywood Representation Directory. You can buy a copy online here:
Now you have “Hollywood’s Representation Phone Book.” This lists names, numbers, emails, solicitation policies, and who they represent. It is a VERY good idea to cross reference your directory with this list of Guild signatory agencies:
If the agency is a signatory, that means they consistently comply with Writer’s Guild by-laws, minimums, rules and regulations for representing writers. This is incredibly important for you because there are many agencies out there who do not comply, and therefore new writer’s get into contracts that are not good for them. Now, just because they are not signatory does not mean you should not query them, you should simply research every company you send a query letter to, before you get into contact with a predator.
Speaking of predators:
This is the Writer Beware website. It lists and exploits all known scams, cons, and downright evil agencies out there. No need to study this thoroughly, just browse it, peek at names, and if one rings a bell, BEWARE.
So now you have a solid screenplay, a list of agencies to send it to, now you just need to send it. You do this by writing a query letter, as mentioned before. You will find examples of good and bad query letters in “The Screenwriter’s Bible,” so just to cover it: Include your logline, three paragraph synopsis, and a short bio about you. This is the agencies first impression of you as a writer, so make sure it is PERFECT!
Now, most people wonder what the difference between an agent and manager is, but there really is a simple explanation:
AGENTS: Broker the deal to get the highest dollar amount possible for your material/talent.
MANAGERS: Make sure your material is ready to be shopped around and help you form your career/name. They help you find an agent if you do not already have one (as many will not even accept query letters unless it comes through a known agent/manager/lawyer), and help you take meetings with producers, etc.
Managers take on less clients than agents, which allows them to be more personal and involved with your life and career. The thing to consider is if you really need a manager or not at this point.
If you live in Los Angeles, a manager may not be as necessary for someone who lives in Nebraska. They help bridge that gap. If your career is established, usually a manager is simply someone to add to your already fruitful payroll, but not really someone you need.
But just starting out, I recommend having a manager first, because they will open more doors than you ever imagined. And that is exactly what you need at this point.
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