September 18, 2012

Having A Manager: My Personal Experience

People are always asking me whether or not it's important to have a manager, should they have a manager, and what having a manager is like. I can't really answer the first two questions because it's a pretty subjective topic. However, I can explain my relationship with my manager and talk about what managers typically do. Good ones anyway. Then you can decide for yourself whether or not it's the right step for you to take.

How I Got My Manager

Working with a manager is not something that I sought out. It just sort of happened. I had just started working with the new print division of a management office and one day while visiting, one of the talent mangers introduced herself to me. She told me that she had seen my photos via one of my print agents and the agent spoke very highly of me. She wanted to meet with me about representing me theatrically and helping to develop my career. I was a bit apprehensive because I wasn't sure what to expect from a manager, but I said that I would be fine with it as long as it was on a freelance basis.

My relationship with her turned out to be a bust. I did get a couple of interesting film auditions and even a couple of callbacks. Then one day, out of the blue, I received an email from her stating that she was leaving the business to go back to grad school. This happened less than 4 months after I met her. Luckily, she had recommended myself and about 10 other actors to another manager in the office. This manager decided to host a showcase session where we were to privately perform sides and a monologue for him and an agent from Talent House.

The day after reading for them, he called me and asked if I could meet with him in person that same day. When I got to the office, he told me that he thought I was talented, beautiful, and that I had the potential to be a star. He wanted to sign me right away. He also informed me that the agent that had attended the showcase wanted to meet with me and introduce me to the other theatrical agent at his agency. Clearly, I was flattered and excited, but still skeptical about signing with a manager.

During the course of the meeting, we discussed what role he would play in helping me build a career, what percentage of my earnings he would take, and other contract specifics that were unclear. He gave me a contract to look over and I told him that I wanted to take a day or two to decide. Once I decided to sign with him, we met again and he cleared up any remaining confusion that I had. I signed with him right before the Christmas hiatus.

What My Manager Does And How It Differs From An Agent

Your manager is essentially your eyes and ears, a middle man of sorts. He (yes, I know there are female managers but I will be using "he" for the purposes of this post) is responsible for relaying to you any pertinent information. Your agent, if you have one, generally handles the task of submitting you for projects and pitching you to casting directors. When you do get an audition, all of the information is passed over to your manager, who then passes it to you and includes any notes or guidelines. If you don't have an agent, many managers also handle the task of submitting and pitching their clients. Even if you do have an agent, some managers still like to be hands on in the submission process. It's on a case by case basis.

Some people may say that having a manager is unnecessary because an agent can handle everything themselves. I'm not sure if that's true. Your relationship with your manager is very special and can be much more personal than that which you have with your agent. For one, your agent may not have the time to be as hands on with you as your manager. Managers tend to have a MUCH smaller client lists and that allows them to have more time to dedicate to each individual. I speak with my manager at least once a week, sometimes daily when things are really busy.

I don't speak to my agents very often for one reason. I don't need to. It's not that I don't want to, but pretty much everything that I need to know, audition-wise, comes through my manager. They are dealing with a lot more people and I don't like to burden them with calls that aren't dire. And even if a situation is dire, that's what my manager is for. I love all of my agents and I keep in contact with them via email. I also set up regular meetings where I go in to chat and catch up. Every now and then, I pop in just to say hi, but I'm in and out so that I'm not being an inconvenience to their work. When I'm emailing about a booking or casting, I make sure that everyone is copied on every email. This keeps all of us on the same page and on great terms.

On the other hand, I see my manager at least once a week. He puts me on tape for auditions that are being cast of out NYC, I have to pick up checks (when you have a manager, all payments go through them), we sometimes need to discuss something in person, or I just want to sit there and cry out my frustrations. I've cried MANY times in his office and he always has tissues and a big hug for me. I don't always show up unannounced, I will email first to see when he has a free moment and he always finds time either the same day, or first thing the next morning. Not that my agents wouldn't do the same, but that's what my manager is for. It's one of the many reasons why he gets 15% and to be honest, it's worth every single penny.

He knows my likes and dislikes, my wills and will nots. He knows when a project reaches his desk whether or not I'll be interested, but he has enough respect to still call me and ask. When he sends me something that I don't want to do, he will support my decision, even if he disagrees. He doesn't try to treat me like he's my boss because well.......he's not.

I'm sure there are plenty of agents out there that do all of the things that I've described, but you're more likely to get that type of hands on attention from a manager. Unless you're a big star in which case you get whatever you want from your agent, manager......and pretty much everyone else. :)

So, I'm not sure if this answered the question of whether or not you need a manager. But, hopefully I shed some light on the type of relationship that you can have with one.

ETA: I forgot to talk about a HUGELY important part of a manager's job: helping you find an agent!!

Duh!

So, one of the most important things that a manager can do for their client, whether they are a newbie actor or a veteran is to help secure them an agent. They will reach out to the agents that they have good working relationships with, agents that they feel you'd fit well with, and they pitch you to them. The same way an agent pitches you to a casting director that you've never auditioned for. A lot of people counsel actors that can't find an agent to find a manager first, as having a good manager is an easier way to land legit representation.

As I stated in my last post, signing with my manager pretty much came with built in representation because of the circumstances under which I met him. However, after freelancing with Talent House for my first pilot season, they decided that they did not want to move forward with representing me through episodic season. Their reasoning was that it's easier to get new talent in for pilots than for episodic auditions. As odd as that sounds, it's true. I could probably explain why at a later date if there's enough interest.

Anyway, getting dropped from TH was heartbreaking and, being the melodramatic person that I am, I thought my career was over, haha! Actors are can be so dumb.

My manager assured me that this was untrue and he took over the task of submitting me for work while finding me an agent. He got me a meeting with Judy Boals, Inc. and while two of the other legit agents liked me and wanted to work with me, THE Judy Boals did not. LOL. Generally, all agents in the department must be on board before a prospective client is signed. So that was the end of that. Shortly after getting dissed by Judy Boals, I booked my first TV job, a tiny co-star on Law & Order: SVU. That same month, my manager got me a meeting with Jamie Harris at Clear Talent Group (CTG). We'd had a wonderful meeting and I got really good vibes from him. I also loved the warm feel of the office. I signed with them after the Christmas hiatus and just re-signed earlier this year.

September 9, 2012

Update & Planning For The Future

These past few weeks have been very busy. I've had a TON of auditions ranging from feature films, to pilots, to TV series, to commercials and print. I'm also auditioning for a decent range of roles: series regulars, recurring, co-stars, and leads in films.

I've had 3 producer callbacks including 2 where I went straight to producers without having to first audition for the casting director. One of those resulted in a booking, a fun co-star role on Made in Jersey,  a new series that premiers this month on CBS. I play a really snotty jewelry sales girl and I had so much fun filming. I can't say much more due to confidentiality, but the episode will probably air in October. I'll be sure to give a heads up when I find out the exact air date of my episode.

I've been very unlucky with print and commercials this year which is so frustrating because booking those kinds of gigs has always come so easy in the past. I'm getting callbacks and even getting put on hold, but nothing is sticking. I could really use the money from a decent national commercial because the SAG scale rate is pretty low, especially when you factor in taxes and then the commission that you pay your representatives.

Because I've done a decent amount of co-star work, my agents/manager are going to try to get my quote raised, which means instead of making SAG scale, I'll have a minimum amount of money which the producers must pay me if they hire me. That would be amazing!

One of the straight to producer callbacks I had was for a recurring role on a new FOX show. I was so bummed when I didn't get it. The feedback was great, but I guess it wasn't the right role for me. It's really great that I'm getting to audition for much bigger and meatier roles, but it makes the rejection hurt so much worse! *sigh*

Anyway, I'm starting to get really antsy and restless which usually happens to me around this time of the year and I'm trying hard to shake this....mood that I'm in. I'm just really itching for a change and I think the solution would be a change of scenery. I'm making serious plans to go to Los Angeles for pilot season in January and my representation is on board. Everyone is in agreement that it's a big step in the right direction. I've met with the VP of my legit agency's LA office and she wants to work me as soon as I get out there. My commercial agency is bi-coastal so I have good shot at being about to work out there commercially as well.

I've also had serious talks with my husband about us moving out there next year and I think he's more excited about it than me.

Yeah, I think it's time.