FilmmakingSix Questions to Strategize Getting an Agent or Manager
April 16, 2021
Getting an agent or manager may feel like the first hurdle of your professional filmmaking career — and it can be a daunting task. But it doesn't have to be! To demystify the process, manager Lauren Dineley of Writ Large and Pozole filmmaker Jessica Siqueiros sat down with Bri Castellini for Seed&Spark’s Lunch&Learn: Myths of Agents and Managers. Here’s a few questions (and answers) from their conversation:
What’s the difference between an agent and a manager?
There’s certainly crossover between the work of agents and the work of managers. “Advocating for the client, strategy on career: that’s sort of the common ground,” says Dineley. And while it depends on the agent/manager, high-level, managers tend to support the client on the front end (development), whereas agents tend to support on the back end (negotiating deals).
What are misconceptions about getting repped that have been debunked for you?
“Once you get reps, it’s not suddenly going to get less scary,” says Siqueiros. “But when you have a good team, it’s going to feel like having a good relationship. And you’re not going to feel like you’re begging for attention and love.” That support is a two-way street, as agents and managers make a percentage of their clients’ wages. “When you have a really good management team, you feel responsible,” says Siqueiros, “I’m trying to get them paid.”
Where do agents and managers find clients?
Connecting with an agent or manager doesn't have to happen at their office. “We come across clients in all sorts of ways. Any manager worth their salt is always looking for new talent, wherever they can find it.” Those avenues include fellowships, festivals, competitions, referrals, even other lesser-known avenues: “If I find a tweet that’s really funny, I’ll say, ‘Who’s this person...’”
Are query letters a thing of the past?
Sending a blind query letter to a manager or agent is still a viable avenue for getting representation. But Dineley gets tons of them. If you’re looking to get your work seen, she says, “The most effective way is by referral. If you have someone who is an executive or writer or director who believes in your work and can send it to people in their network, it’s the most effective way. It goes to the top of my pile because it comes from somebody trusted.”
What about spec scripts?
“Spec” can refer to two different types of script, says Dineley: “‘Spec’ in TV means a script of an existing television show. In features, it’s something you wrote for you, ‘on spec.’ You’re trying to sell it as a finished project, not as a pitch.” But while a television spec may still be important for certain fellowships, says Dineley, they’re less important for getting representation: “A lit manager looks for a voice in a writing sample. I need to know who you are and what your perspective is and what your voice is through a piece of material.”
Do creators have to “pick a lane” to get repped?
Dineley and Siqueiros say, your lane can stay wide and varied! “I can’t imagine telling a creative to do one thing,” says Dineley. “That feels incredibly limiting.” As a creator, you have to feel free to create, in all avenues. "You don’t want to be represented by someone who doesn’t believe in you,” she says, “Because they’re not going to be doing the job properly, let alone in terms of supporting you creatively, but in terms of getting you work.”
In the end, Dineley says, your voice is what matters most: “Focusing on you is what’s going to attract me to you. If you’re comfortable with yourself and in a good place as an individual, I’m more inclined to a relationship with you. It’s bound to be healthier.”
Watch the full Lunch&Learn here. And if you’re producing work to hone your skills and amplify your own voice, we’d love to help.