normally would not notice in the script. It is not just that our friend likes the work or we like
it – ultimately we want to know that an audience would appreciative our creative efforts.
The idea of the solitary artist at work is a myth because in the very act of creation there is a
joy that comes from knowing that a future audience would be appreciative of the finished
work. Creativity is a vibrant relational process.
Alan’s manager serves a function that is slightly different than an agent whose job is to sell.
“My agent just throws projects at me. This person has a project – that person has a
project. My manager says, ‘this project is a waste of time. That person will never come
through. This is what you need to focus on.’” He comments, “There are a lot of people I
know who have a manager and no agent. They trust what their manager is doing and
saying. I have a great agent – they do a fantastic job for me. But I can work out stories
with my manager.”
Alan describes how his manager challenged him on the script for Man and Wife. He said,
“You really have to think about this specific idea for this character. I fought him for about
four months. I didn’t believe in it or see it his way. Then an idea coalesced in my head
about this one character and it was what he said. I finally saw what he was talking about
and it made the entire script sing. He’s more like my therapist. He’s very smart about
story. I don’t think all managers are like him. This guy is great with characters.”
I was curious whether a lot of scriptwriters have managers? Alan replies, “I don’t think so.
I think it has become a need because the industry has become so hard to get work. You
need to have as many people working for you as possible – as many fingers out there
searching to find work. It used to be that directors and actors had managers.”
What I learned from Alan is that the agent is the dealmaker and the manager is a
combination of public relations specialist and personal trainer. He notes, “The agent will
throw work your way. The manager helps you to focus and maximize time.”
Originality Replaced With Proven ‘Branded’ Ideas
Alan talks about the reality of the new entertainment industry. “It’s brutal. I’m not alone. I
have an agent and a manager. My manager says the same thing – that all his clients are
struggling because the movie industry has fundamentally shifted. It used to be that the
industry needed original ideas. Now the industry is afraid of original ideas and needs
everything to be branded. What’s it based on? It’s based on a comic strip, a novel, and
many other things. They’re basing movies on View-Master, Battleship. . .”