Saturday, May 12, 2012


    First: Note that the Screen Actors Guild does not licence, franchise or in any way police managers. Any relationship with a manager is your own private business relationship, so you enter as you would with any contractor or product.
   A William Morris Agency agent, speaking at ActorFest, an annual seminar sponsored by Back Stage West in Los Angeles, once described a manager as a “walking DayTimer” who she could call and find out the availability for and interest in a part she was submitting an actor to audition for. With established personalities, the same speaker said, managers “take on all the business responsibilities” to help the stars spend more time “working, relaxing and enjoying their money.”

   Managers are not needed, but can be useful, as long as they are legitimate, do what they promise to do and are someone you can trust and do business with. Do in and do your homework before trusting your career to any manager.

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   At the same seminar another speaker advised that beginning actors should select managers who can help them “scrub off the barnacles, polish the silver”, prepare them for the industry, and “introduce them to the right agents and producers.”

  A common feeling at these seminars is that until you are rich and famous, or at least working all the time, managers are not necessary if you can handle your own business affairs (like contact notes and so forth) and make the same solid decisions you pay a manager for.

   But another way of looking at it is that an agent is worth ten percent and a manager whatever percentage you pay them, because if they are doing their jobs you will be making money. If you do it all yourself and make nothing, what good is saving ten or even 25%?

   A manager advises, directs, introduces you to the right people and helps you plan and manager your career. Agents, let alone managers, are not necessary to act, but are useful in assisting in the many business aspects of the industry. Agents are good for keeping an eye out for work, submitting for auditions and selling your talents to buyers, managers for knowing industry trends, individuals and the marketplace. Managers ask ten to twenty five percent of your income for their services, with an increasing number requiring a retainer or going to hourly fee for service rates. In California managers are limited to fifteen percent, unless they also manage your finances, in which case they may take a total of up to twenty five percent. There are no restrictions on managers in Nevada and SAG Franchise regulations limiting agents to ten percent do not apply to managers, who are not under SAG or AFTRA supervision or jurisdiction.

   While in most states agencies are required to have special bonded business licenses and go through specific legal screening, in many states including Nevada talent managers do not have to do much more than print business cards. A standard business license is all that is required to call yourself a manager. For this reason, be careful about using or selecting managers. As with photographers (references later in this book), it is best to shop around and check references.

   Here are a few things to look for or ask:
   Why do you wish to manage me?
   What do you see as my assets?
   What do you see as my shortcomings?

   Who are your clients?
   How may I contact them?
   What are your qualifications to be a manager?
   What sort of business licence do you have?
   Are you bonded or licenses in other ways?
   Are you listed with the Better Business Bureau?

   What services do you provide for specific clients?
   What is your honest evaluation of my potential?
   How much time and money will it take to get me there?

   Also test their general knowledge of the industry. If they know less than you do, it is generally a red flag.

    Look for managers who take the time and money to obtain full agency licenses from their state, but prefer to operate as managers instead of agents. Such managers are usually operating on a sounder business foundation.

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