On any given day, there is a story about issues between managers and their clients gone awry. How then do you find a manager that you can trust? While there is no guarantee that a manager/client relationship will flourish, there are some basics that you should look for.
CLUE NUMBER I
Client Roster. A manager’s client roster should be available for you to peruse prior to signing.
Why would you care who they’re representing? You need this information for several reasons. It will tell you the caliber of people they are promoting. You will be able to tell if they are also representing some of your competition, if they are, this can work for and against you.
It’s a plus, in that it means that they are already pitching clients like you to agents, producers, directors, casting directors, publishers, and public relations agencies. It’s a negative if they have too many clients in competition with you.
CLUE NUMBER II
References. Any legitimate manager won’t hesitate to allow you to speak with their current clients. If it’s a problem, forget it.
I would also urge you to ask about who they have working relationships with. What producers, directors, production companies, studios, etc. do they have established relationships with? Who are they planning on pitching you to??
CLUE NUMBER III
Punctuality. Do they return calls and emails promptly, and what exactly is timely?
Depending on how many clients they have and whether they have an assistant(s), it is reasonable for you to expect your call/email responded to by close of business. This could be at 5PM (very unlikely), or as late as 9-11PM. At the very least, you should have a response, even if it’s an assistant apologizing that the boss got backed up, and that you’re on the call sheet for tomorrow morning.
Bottom line, if they’re not timely with communiques before they sign you, don’t expect this to change once you’re on the roster.
CLUE NUMBER IV
Professionalism. In other words, do they consistently make you look good?
A great place to size up a potential manager is in a social setting. Scrutinize their behavior. Do they know how to finesse a room? Are they uniformly polite? Do their interactions look and/or feel authentic? Do they make an effort to introduce you to some of the people they’re speaking with?
Don’t know how to observe a manager outside of the office? That’s easy. Invite them to meet you in a place where you know a lot of industry types go, to a staged reading of your script, or a showcase that you’re performing in.
I like to watch people in social situations because that’s like a mini microcosm for life. If someone’s a jerk at a party, they’re probably an oaf in the boardroom.
CLUE NUMBER V
Gossips. This is a business built on discretion’s foundation. There is no room in it for gossip.
If you’re dealing with a manager that complains about their clients or business associates, I guarantee they will be a problem for you to deal with. Because if they’re complaining about anyone else, you’ll be next. This should is a big red flag.
CLUE NUMBER VI
Up Front Fees. No legitimate manager is going to ask for compensation up front.
If they do, RUN for the nearest exit. Running messengers, subscribing to Breakdown Services, etc. are all standard business expenses, and should be covered by the manager. A lot of sleazy managers collect up front fees.
Usually these fees range between $500-2K. The justification is that they need to cover their expenses to promote you. Nonsense! It’s a risk that a manager assumes when they sign a new client.
CLUE NUMBER VII
Contract Intimidation. Make sure that you are not pressured to sign a contract. This is a tactic used to keep you from talking to their competition.
Always exercise the right to have an established entertainment attorney or licensed agent review it. Before doing so, however, you should CAREFULLY review it yourself to make certain that there aren’t any stipulations that make you uncomfortable.
Remember, that unless you have given Power of Attorney to your lawyer, you are signing the contract, and ultimately, YOU must be fully cognizant of all the terms contained therein. Saying that you didn’t understand what a clause meant, won’t hold up in court . Signer beware!
CLUE NUMBER VIII
Timing. Do you actually need a manager? The obvious answer would be yes, but this isn’t always the case. I would recommend having management if things are starting to “pop” with your career. Did your script just win a major festival’s award for Best Screenplay? Are production companies courting you?
If not, what exactly are you expecting from a manager/client relationship? No matter how assertive your manager is, they aren’t the Wizard of Oz. If nothing’s happening with your career, it’s doubtful that having a manager is going to change this.
CLUE NUMBER IX
Intuition. Trust your internal navigation system.
If a prospective manager is making promises that seem unrealistic to you, trust that feeling. If they can’t look you in the eye, watch out for that. Listen to your gut and respect what it’s trying to tell you. Unless you’re a paranoid schizophrenic, it’s probably spot on.
CLUE NUMBER X
This is listed last, but it definitely is not the least of these clues.
Compatibility. Do you like them? Do you think the feeling is mutual? It better be. Without a mutual admiration society thing going, it’s doubtful that you’ll see significant results.
Good luck in your search. Feel free to contact me here or on Twitter with any specific questions not covered here. And remember…
★ The standard commission fee for a manager is 30 percent, not 100 percent. Don’t expect them to make a 100 percent contribution to your career for this. Your efforts to promote your career need to exceed their efforts by at least 70 percent. Keep this in mind and assuming that you have talent, you’ll be a success! ★
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