5 Things I Felt When Signing with a Manager
This article originally appeared on LA Screenwriter. It is reposted here with permission by the author.
by Angela Bourassa, co-founder of Write LA
I had the good fortune in 2019 to win the Gold Prize in the sci-fi category at PAGE and to be a finalist with a different script at Austin. The year before, I had made the semifinals at Austin. Off of that semifinalist finish, I had meetings with two different managers and I thought, This is it. I’m breaking through.
You can imagine my disappointment when neither manager ended up signing me.
So my placements last year had me cautiously optimistic, but ready for the possibility that no manager would be interested.
Ultimately, thanks to PAGE and Austin, my scripts went out to a variety of managers – some who had been judges in PAGE and already read my work, some that PAGE (via Roadmap Writers) reached out to on my behalf, and two who reached out to me through Austin.
I did a phone call with one of the PAGE judges, and he seemed really great. He wanted to read a few more of my scripts and then connect again in a few weeks. Then I went to the Austin Film Festival and met with one manager who took a very hands-on approach to development, giving his small list of clients weekly assignments. He was a new manager and admitted to having limited contacts, but he was part of a well-respected management firm.
Then I met with Sean, and the next day I signed with him.
This is the emotional roller coaster that accompanied that process:
Sean tells me he wants to work with me…
I’ve done it! I’ve finally done it! Whether I end up signing with Sean or someone else, a manager has told me that they think I have a career as a screenwriter, and they want to be a part of it. The validation that comes with that is overwhelming. Twelve years of work – worrying that I would never be good enough, putting my hopes into contests, fellowships, new network connections, and new scripts that all led to nothing – it all finally comes to fruition in this moment.
I tell Sean I need to think about it for a day or two…
This manager seems really great, but I’ve talked to some other managers who also seem great, and even more managers currently have my script and could reach out at any moment. Do I take this bird in the hand, or is doing that selling myself short? Do I go with the manager who is stoked about the prospect of working with me and eager to get started right now, or is there due diligence I should be doing first? Does it matter if other managers come from firms with fancy names? Does the name of the firm mean anything at all, or is it all about the excitement, commitment, and connections of the manager him/herself?
After talking it through with my husband, I let Sean know a few hours later that I choose him…
I am a repped writer! It’s finally happened! Now when people ask me what I do for a living, I can say confidently that I’m a screenwriter. Yeah, I haven’t sold anything yet and there are no guarantees, but I have a professional in my corner who is going to get me meetings, advocate for me, and plant my dream firmly in the ground for the first time in my life. It’s a feeling of a giant weight being lifted.
Two minutes later…
It’s real now. I have a rep. I’m going to go on meetings. I’m going to be expected to put out new scripts and new ideas on a regular basis that excite Sean – and the rest of the industry – as much as the few scripts I’ve already shown him. The pressure is officially on. Please dear god, don’t let me screw it up.
Please let me be as good as he thinks I am right now. Please let me come up with another good story idea ever. Do I have any ideas at all? Did I already mess up by choosing this manager so quickly? Am I ready to go on generals? Am I just going to crash and burn and be dropped by Sean in a matter of months? Can he actually deliver on the things he’s told me? Is it bad that I never actually signed a piece of paper? Does that mean he might just one day drop me and never call again? Is any of this really real?
Every day since…
CAN I DO THIS? / I CAN DO THIS
I’ve written two new scripts and come up with some new ideas that I’m excited to keep developing. I’ve gone on several generals and not made a fool of myself. Sean has gotten my scripts into the hands of some amazing people who I’d be thrilled to work with. Execs who have read my work want to read more.
There’s no telling what will happen next, but doors are open, and I’m excited (and only a little bit terrified) to walk through them.