Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Managers, Agents and the Entertainment Biz

Last night after the Guild membership meeting, there occurred a lively panel discussion about managers and their clients in both live-action and animation. Below you will find summaries of the points made by the panelists, both of them high profile managers in the industry ...

TAG Panel: Managers (and agents) In Today's Entertainment Biz

What’s a typical manager’s day like? We have the phone with us most or all of the time, and we’re on the phone a lot. We’ll be on set for a client as they’re directing a film, we’ll have a meeting with a studio or client. We will arbitrate problems and be the peace maker for clients who are unhappy with a given work situation.

When you get to know your clients, you find out what their aspirations are and help them achieve those aspirations. What’s their dream job at which dream studio? (We work to get it for them.)

One of the best parts of the job is when the tables are turned and you’re in a competitive bid situation for a hot script (or project) -– where several studios are bidding for a script and your client can pick and choose and even say “F.U” to a studio if they want to.

What's the difference between an agent and a manager? Agents are there to maximize profits for a client whose career is already happening ...

Managers develop and nurture the careers of clients who are building careers.

For one manager (who also produces) 97% of his life is representation, and 3% is producing (movies, tv, etc.) For another manager, it’s 70% to 80% producing, 20% to 30% representing clients. Managers get 10% off the top. "We as managers don’t double dip. If we produce a client’s work, we don’t take a manager’s fee."

Writers usually have agents, but artists often don’t.

Managers have minimal interest in representating storyboard artists who’s ambition is to stay a storyboard artist on studio scripts. (There's honor in that, but not much need for managers.

Managers ARE interested in representing storyboard artists who have original ideas, write graphic novels and are developing projects. Those are the kinds of artists that managers (and agents) want to represent.

As managers for different agencies, we represent writers, directors, authors and artists, it runs the gamut. Managers work to get a sense of where a client wants to be and work to help the client get there.

There are a lot of great artists around the world, but not a lot of great story tellers.

In the world of movie and television development and finance: everything is moving toward international co-productions. Work on projects will be done in various parts of the world, some of it in Southern California but lots elsewhere.

Never pitch your show as a “merchandising hit” first. Pitch it as a potential hit show, and the merchandising will follow. Be aware that you are pitching to a studio executive and his potential bonus. Pitch the tale you’re telling, not plush toys, games, and print bed sheets and pillow cases.

Don’t be afraid of pitching to an international market, to a foreign company. If you start in the U.S., you’ll get a U.S.-type deal: non-participation in profits or gross, with a small meaningless number as part of the deal.

When it comes to pitching things on the internet, You Tube and other distributors are a big deal. A video that gets a million hits is probably going to build momentum and credibility when it comes to pitching the project and marketing to studios.

How many clients does a manager have? One of us has thirty people for whom he’s the “point person.” The other has 10-12 clients to whom he pays a LOT of attention, then there’s another twenty repped by the office.

A manager’s time is spent cultivating business and generating money to keep the business going.

What can a client do to maximize the relationship? A client should “think forward,” and be entrepreneurial. Eventually those things will create career momentum.

How can someone be a good client for a manager? Improve their craft. Get better at what they do. If someone wants to be a professional who is growing, they can't be static. They need drive, ambition and perspective. ...


Unknown said...

I meant to go, but couldn't due to prior commitments. I was curious as to what they would say though.
Did they give any idea how successful managers or agents are now that the heady days of the 90's are over - in the animation industry specifically.
I haven't heard a lot of positive stories from those that I know use agents - I've never heard of anyone using a manager in our biz).
I've often toyed with the idea of how much nicer it would be to have someone else trying to sell you to potential employers, but have trouble imagining how well it would work.

Anonymous said...

I have a manager and it's working out fine so far. We have an agreement, any work I get on my own accord, i don't pay 10% He has discovered opportunities for me I would've never known about and submits me quite a bit.

On the pitch side he gives honest feedback on my projects and a list of companies that might be suitable, and even companies I didn't even know who are buyers. He can get me into some studios that I couldn't get into before.

One thing about all managers or agents, is you have to be proactive and stay on them, if you are not achieving your goals. Since they have a roster of clients, sometimes if they don't hear from you, they may think that things are fine.

Always check in at least once a week and ask what's happening, any leads etc.

Steve Hulett said...

The managers on the panel noted that animation artists who work as employees on various animated projects are less likely to interest and attract managers.

Agents/managers are looking for entrepreneurial, pro-active artists who develop projects, who write, draw, and develop series/theatrical features. In short, folks who are story tellers.

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