Business / Business Advice / Entertainment Industry / Film / Music / Writing

What To Look For In A Manager

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.


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.




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??

Haha, I couldn't resist!  Make sure you get a thumbs up...

Haha, I couldn’t resist! Make sure you get a thumbs up…


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.




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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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! ★

Want to make my day?  You already did just by coming here, but if you want me to celebrate, leave a comment and even better, share this by clicking on one of the buttons below.  Pennies in Heaven for those who do 💟

© 2011-2014  Cinema Profound  All Rights Reserved.


6 thoughts on “What To Look For In A Manager

  1. Very well written. Economy is worth its weight in gold. The basic guidelines are common sense things everyone should more or less be hip to. However, when it comes to the money end, I find that model is changing rapidly in all sectors of the entertainment biz. If a manager ask for a retainer, that isn’t so out of the ordinary right now, particularly if the client has no name recognition. The people who serve artists on every level have to make a living. They should not be expected to bank roll the development of an unknown because it was the norm 10, 20, 30 years ago. That’s what contracts are for, and should be addressed accordingly

★ Comments are classy ★

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s