Monday, April 06, 2009

The Writing Week (Vol. 2) part 66 - Fired My Manager

The phrase “Fired My Manager” seems a bit harsh to me. It is essentially what people do when they change representation, but it makes the whole action seem much more hostile than it is at times. Nonetheless, that’s basically what I did this week. I was surprised to find so little info on how to go about doing this, so hopefully this post can be of some help to any of you in a similar situation.

In order to follow along, here’s a short timeline of how things went down. For courtesy’s sake, I’m not going to name my manager or the companies he worked at. Let’s just call him Z. Z signed me when he worked at Company 1. He was excited to push my script in what he thought was a good chance of a sale. A month and a half later, he got a pass on my script, and soon found himself moving companies, to Company 2. He submitted my script to nine production companies, yet after two months, I still hadn’t heard from him. He also failed to tell me that he moved to Company 2 (I knew he left the first company, but a friend had to tell me where Z moved). I found the lack of information from him – regarding the move, and, in particular, his destination company – especially unprofessional. On top of that, Company 2’s homepage specifically says that it is not the right company for screenwriters. Big problem. When I asked Z about Company 2’s reputation, he said that it's based on his credentials, and was therefore a great reputation.

I still have a few contacts in the film industry whose opinions I value. Those contacts have agreed with me that my manager’s responsiveness and his answers to questions that I’ve asked have been less than professional. I’m relatively new to this, I won’t lie about that. However, I know enough to know what desired behavior from a manager is and what isn’t. My manager (unlike others) did not try to get me an agent, did not get me any sort of meeting, and left me without updates for months at a time. My initial excitement gave way to restlessness, disappointment, and ultimately frustration. I knew that if I reached a point of no-return with how I felt toward him, it would be overwhelmingly hard for him to climb back into my good graces. Perhaps I should have tried to clam myself. Maybe I could have given him more time to get his stuff together, but since he technically represented my career, I thought it unwise to remain with someone that I did not feel pleased or comfortable with.

So, I sent him an email, asked for an updated submission list, and after letting the weekend come and go, told him that I no longer needed representation from him. The initial email was somewhat short – I thanked him for his initial excitement and told him that it was invaluable to me as a young writer, but that I would be moving on. When he asked what had led to that decision, I decided to answer gracefully but honestly. I knew I was not obligated to offer an answer, but part of me wanted to get my frustrations off my chest; another part of me felt that, for some reason, I owed it to him. I have no hard feelings toward him now, and do not want to sound as if I'm attacking him here. This is just part of the journey we've sworn to document here at The League.

I understand that many of reading this might feel like I’ve made a huge mistake, or made mountains out of molehills. I’m well aware that a newbie writer is fortunate just to land representation. The last thing one wants to do is appear needy or to have unrealistic expectations. But there’s a saying (which I know I’ll fudge and can’t remember who to attribute it to) that goes something like: it’s better to have no manager than a bad one. If something isn’t working, regardless of how new to the business or risky a client you are, you have to know when to cut it off. At least, that’s my take on things.


Leetal said...

Oh my god! Agent Z! That bastard. He killed my father and raped my mother. And he stole my script and sold it to Warner Brothers!

You're doing fine. Here in LA that story is a dime a dozen. You did the right thing and freed yourself up for someone that will actually do their job for you.

Tundragirl said...

You were right to fire your so-called manager. You don't want someone unprofessional representing you. It's was a no-win situation.
Hang in there & have faith.

Cake Man said...

Thanks, Leetal and Tundragirl. It feels good to be rid of him. It's also just an odd gap in my "career" where there used to be something. But onward and upward (I hope).