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Friday, September 16, 2011

A young writer friend of mine has someone who's offering to manage him. She wants a 2 year contract. Various friends of his (including lit managers) are shocked by that -- they don't sign contracts with their clients. I find this very odd. I can't imagine a manager not wanting a contract. How else do you ensure you get paid when your client breaks in?

The only odd thing about the contract to my mind was that there was no escape clause if he doesn't get a bona fide offer over a period of 4 months.

Anyone want to comment?



Yeah, I've heard that it's a mark of an amateur/desperate manager to ask for a contract. The genuine managers don't use them.

This could be hearsay, but for what it's worth, I've been with my managers for over two years without seeing any paperwork. Not just script development -- we've had small projects on which they've taken their 10%. They're a small company but they have a large presence in spec sales, the Black List, etc.

It makes sense when you think about it. A contract doesn't help anyone, really -- the writer can't leave if they're unhappy, and the manager can't dump the writer either. If they're just hip-pocketing a young writer due to the potential they see, they might be opening themselves up to a lawsuit or something: "I'm suing because you didn't represent me like you agreed to", etc.

So without a contract, how does the manager get paid? Same as normal. The money you make flows through them first. They make the deals and phone calls -- they're going to make sure they get paid.

I don't think it's odd that there's no "escape clause" in the contract. That would only seem to screw the manager. And would you really want your manager rushing a sub-standard script out, begging their friends for a favor read, just to meet some artificial deadline?

By Blogger Xander Bennett, at 11:23 AM  

Everything I've seen is no contracts.

The only contracts I've seen are usually from producers. NDAs, attachment agreements, options, sales agreements.

The reason for this is talent and rep can walk away from each other at any time. Managers don't want to be stuck with a lame client, just like writers don't want to be stuck with a lame manager.

By Blogger James, at 5:42 PM  

Hmmm. But what protects the manager if he introduces you to someone, you get the gig and then fire him?

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 5:50 PM  

I guess that's only a problem if your manager is more of a "paper the town" guy/girl. My managers only send my scripts out to people they specifically know and trust.

Plus, why would a producer buy something from a writer who'd just fired their manager off the project? Seems like that would be a good way for the producer to get sued. It would be safer to include the manager; give them an EP credit or something.

By Blogger Xander Bennett, at 6:27 PM  

I wouldn't hire a lawyer without a contractual agreement of what they charge, what they do, that it is confidential. Why should an agent or manager be the same? Shouldn't, at the very least, there be a written agreement of how much they get paid and for what services? Do current agents and managers have a menu of service pricing like a salon/spa? How do you know how much the original payment was from studio/producer before the agent/manager pilfered their 10%? What checks & balances are there? I can't get decent cell phone service without a contract. Why should I trust an agent/manager on their "word" to be honest? Pro or not, it doesn't seem like a very wise idea to just throw caution to the wind and hope that the agent/manager will work for the artist/writer and not abuse their power. How long does it take to get paid once the producer/studio cuts the check to the agent/manager? Is there a delay where they hold the money in an interest-bearing account? There just seem to be too many what-if's for this overflow of trust where money and legalities are concerned. Do the "pros" who advocate no contract then cover their interests with a good lawyer that they don't bother to mention to newbies?

By Blogger januaryfire, at 4:49 AM  

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