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02/23/2001 - Personal Managers vs. Agents

How To Produce Movies for Television

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal."

-- Henry Ford

Being goal-oriented and reaching our goals is no small achievement. It's a certainty that we'll all encounter obstacles along the way. That's a natural part of the process. However, how we handle those obstacles will make all the difference between whether we succeed or fail.

Creative people are often too busy focusing on anything else but their careers. That's why it's doubly important for an artist to have the right representation in place.

Personal Managers vs. Agents

Unlike agents, personal managers are not allowed by law to negotiate an agreement on behalf of their clients. Managers are permitted to advise and counsel a client. Good advice doesn't come cheap. Most managers receive a fee of fifteen percent of their clients' gross earnings and some even command higher percentage fees ranging from 20-25%. It's worth it provided that you're represented by an established manager whose credentials and relationships are verifiable. Ask for references from a legitimate source. The Association of Talent Managers in Los Angeles (formerly the Conference of Personal Managers West) is a good place to start when it comes to checking out references. Most of the ATM's members are long-time managers who represent name clients as well as promising newcomers. If a personal manager ever asks you for an upfront fee for his or her services be sure to walk away. Don't think twice about it. This is an illegal practice. Unfortunately, eager first-time clients are often seduced by flattery and the promises of big deals by so-called "personal managers" whose sole objective in life is to make a fast buck at the expense of the uninitiated.

Knowledgeable personal managers are a valuable asset. The entertainment industry thrives on relationships. And good managers know all the right people. They usually interface on behalf of their client with established agents, entertainment attorneys, publicists and business managers.

The personal managers of stars and prominent writers and directors will often form production companies with their clients. They oversee the acquisition, development, and production of new projects, serving as Co-Executive Producers or Producers with their clients.

Some agents frown upon working with personal managers because they feel that managers often get in the way when they advise their clients not to accept certain offers. As a result, an adversarial relationship develops between agent and manager and the client is sometimes forced to choose between the two.

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It's unfortunate when agents and managers engage in power tactics. Each has an important function to fulfill. Agents represent work, which is key to an artist's survival. And managers who prepare for the long term help to shape and sustain their clients' careers.

Fortunately, there are many agents and managers who work well together. The seasoned professionals among them understand that a team effort is in the best interest of their respective clients. A harmonious relationship between agent and manager helps to create a certain synergy that can only come from mutual understanding, good will and respect.

Successful artists thrive when their representatives work together as a team. Most artists are generally passionate about their careers. Although the money that they earn is important to them, the work often comes first. They love what they do and they do what they love.

The wise artists are guided by the words of William M. Thackeray:

"To love and win is the best thing. To love and lose, the next best."


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