The first concrete step in any screenwriter’s career these days tends to be signing with a manager.
It used to be signing with an agent, but most agents today aren’t looking at unrepresented writers. One generally has to get a manager first, to land an agent.
What’s the difference? Managers have fewer clients, and are more hands on. They will work with you on your ideas, outlines and scripts, giving notes over multiple rewrites. Agents tend to not have the time for that, and are more about selling something that is already “there” — and are in a better position to do the selling (and negotiating of deals for you). Managers also help you market your work, more informally, and sometimes will produce it, as well, which agents can’t do. Mostly, they will help you get your work to a place where it has its best chance to sell or get you hired as a writer on a project. (It’s similar to the service consultants like me offer, to writers who don’t yet have a manager.)
So how does one land a manager?
The good news is that many of them accept queries via e-mail, and if they like an idea you send them (a logline and synopsis of a couple paragraphs), they will ask to read the script. It doesn’t hurt if you’ve also placed very highly in major screenwriting contests, or have other extremely relevant information that sets you apart, which you can briefly mention.
But how does one know which managers to send to, which ones accept queries, and which ones are worth one’s time? There are a lot of “managers” out there who might not be.
Good news: I have figured all that out for you, and am offering you a current, vetted manager list that answers all of that. I have identified what I see as the top 87 most legit and worthwhile management companies currently operating, as of October 2016. I personally verified their submission policies and contact information.
The downloadable pdf below contains all that information. I charge a small price for it, because it represents many hours of work. I figured out which companies are actively getting writer clients’ screenplays sold, and/or have clients with scripts on the three prominent lists that circulate Hollywood each year, of the best unproduced or new scripts and writers out there: The Black List, The Hit List and The Young and Hungry List. From there, I created a master list with the companies that did the best by these metrics on top. Using IMDB Pro and other resources, I then personally called every management company to verify their submission policies and best e-mail to use.
What I found out is about half the companies openly accept queries via e-mail. The other half don’t take unsolicited submissions. Those require a referral, typically from an agent or an entertainment lawyer they know. But I provide e-mail addresses for some of those, as well, in case you want to dig further, or send a query anyway, because sometimes policies change, or someone makes an exception. You’ll also get website addresses for the companies that have one (more than half do), and phone numbers for every single company — in case you want to call and verify their current policies and contact info. (You’ll find the people who answer the phone are usually nice and forthcoming with this information.)
The PDF also contains more advice and information about dealing with managers, and links to some very helpful online resources for familiarizing yourself with them, and what they do.
Click the button below to get the PDF.
If you haven't read them already, I also recommend my "Ten Key Principles Successful Writers Understand", and my series of audio downloads.