What is a screenwriting manager, and do you need one as a writer? There seems to be a multitude of opinions on what is best for new and emerging screenwriters. Let's dive into the details!
It's as straightforward as it sounds—a manager manages your career as a screenwriter. Screenwriting managers give feedback, set up meetings, help negotiate terms, and generally steer your career in the right direction. They are interested in you, as a writer, and your long-term goals.
A manager is not an agent whose sole job is to mediate between you and producers, directors, and film studios. Agents make sure your screenplay ends up in the right hands and negotiate fees and contracts.
Managers and agents often work closely together, and both should take a percentage fee of their earnings.
However, here's a tip: be very wary of anyone asking for money up front; money should only ever flow towards the writer. They get their cut later.
Sign me up; you may be thinking. A manager who is invested in your career and guides you towards success sounds like a dream come true. Are there any downsides to signing with a manager?
Unfortunately, it isn't as simple as looking one up online and clicking a button.
You only get one shot at impressing a manager, so make sure your screenplay stands out while also being marketable. Take advantage of Arc Studio Pro's easy feedback feature, and don't be afraid to spend the time you need to polish that pitch.
Nothing can beat personal research. Find out who your idols are managed by, who in your social circle knows a manager, and who you could go to for advice. Don't be afraid to ask for recommendations, and keep notes on every manager that crosses your path. The goal isn't to find just any manager but to find the right manager for you.
Nobody loves this aspect of the literary world, but the truth is that you'll be on top of the slush pile. Getting a referral is often a golden ticket to getting your screenplay read. An industry professional saying they believe in your script can help it go a long way. So, foster those friendships as much as you can. Screenwriting competitions are another fantastic way to get seen and scouted!
If fostering professional relationships isn't for you, don't despair! In the end, a killer screenplay will rise to the top, even if it takes a little longer. You can always find your way to the slush piles of managers who accept unsolicited queries. Many of them love finding new talent.
Even though screenwriting managers are the ones who will ultimately be picking you, before you go through the list we've provided below, you should also know what you want from a screenwriting manager.
· Someone who has a passion for discovering new voices.
· Someone you would feel comfortable working with.
· Someone who has a solid client base.
· Someone whose clients have similar goals to yours.
· Someone willing to look at the big picture, not just one screenplay.
· Someone who doesn't charge you upfront payments.
· Someone who treats you with respect and professionalism from the beginning.
There's no such thing as a perfect or complete list of screenwriting managers. Doing your research and finding the manager that's right for you is half the battle. You'll get a lot more responses and results from the people who fit your vision and goals than you would just sending your plea out to anyone.
That said, it's always great to have a place to start. Even if for no other reason than to learn how to query and what to look for.
To help you on this journey, here are six screenwriting management companies accepting cold queries in 2021, and six you'll have to impress into soliciting your work.
Energy Entertainment was founded in 2000, and they pride themselves in working with A-list clients. Bates Motel, Deadpool, and Deadpool 2 are some of their biggest titles.
Circle of Confusion's clients frequently go on to write hit programming for Netflix, such as The Crown or Fear The Walking Dead.
MXN Entertainment works in feature films and television, and you may have heard of them because of Jennifer's Body.
Bellevue Productions is a literary management company that specializes in television and feature films. Their clients produced works like Better Watch Out and Body Cam.
Zero Gravity Management boasts massive titles and yet accepts unsolicited queries. You've undoubtedly heard of their Ozark or Running Scared.
Concept Entertainment accepts any length of screenplay for television and feature films.
Infinity Management works across multiple forms of media, including film and television. They are looking for new clients, but you'll have to woo them first!
Untitled Entertainment has huge clients and offices worldwide, so wherever you see their name pop up, it's a good idea to pay attention.
Nine 8 Entertainment recently worked on the hit film Winchester and comes with a solid portfolio.
Epicenter is a production and literary management company that works on the more delicate side of literary media.
Gotham Group was founded in 1994, and there's no way you haven't heard of them if you're at all a fan of speculative screenplays.
New Wave Entertainment strives to be an "ego-free and inclusive environment" and prides itself on being an employee-owned entertainment marketing company.
If you plan to send a cold query, it's good to know the basics before pressing send.
A query letter should be the shortest possible message while still compressing the most information possible about you and your project.
1. Who you are
2. What your idea is
3. What makes it marketable
You should customize the letter to fit your needs, of course, but here's a rough idea of what a good one might look like.
Thank you for considering my pitch! I was at (workshop/masterclass/conference/event) and enjoyed your (topic that shows you're paying attention to them). I'm (two sentences about who you are as a person, followed by the very briefest mention of whether you have any relevant credentials).
(Screenplay title): (make sure you write the perfect logline here)
(Use two modern, relevant comparisons to describe your screenplay), and could appeal to (target audience). I will love to send you the full screenplay if this sounds like something you'd like.
Thank you again for your time!
(name, contact details)
If you've gone through the list and sent out some pitches, what next? Well, two things. These two steps should be part of your career moving forward in perpetuity.
Option one: Send more pitches. You miss 100% of the chances you don't take, so you should be putting your work out there widely. Attend meetings and seminars and pitching events if you can, especially if they are online. Mingle in the industry and keep in touch with what's happening and keep your work circulating. And submit to competitions!
Option two: Write another screenplay. Maybe the one you've got now won't be the one. Perhaps the one after it won't be, either. The only way to make sure you'll keep moving forward is to keep writing. Use the resources you have available to improve your craft, work on your arcs and dialogue, and keep getting better. Sooner or later, those doors might open for you, too.