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Manager Vs Agent for Screenwriting

Agents and managers for screenwriters help sell scripts and develop writers' careers, but in different ways. This article compares these two positions, highlighting the differences and overlap between them.

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Comparing Managers to Agents for Screenwriters

Screenwriters' agents find jobs or pitch and sell a writer's work. Screenwriters' managers, on the other hand, are tasked with helping a writer's career and business decisions. Managers typically work in conjunction with agents. Below is a comparison of these two literary professionals with education and salary information.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary Job Growth* (2014-2024)
Manager Bachelor's degree $62,080 (2016) (for agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes)* 3% (for agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes)
Agent Bachelor's degree $46,929 (2017) (for talent agents)** 3% (for agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

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Responsibilities of Managers vs. Agents for Screenwriters

Many screenwriters use both an agent and a manager. An agent will sell a screenwriter's work for the best price. They will negotiate contracts and promote a screenwriter's work. A manager may do some selling of a screenwriter's work, however their main focus is the development of a writer's career. Managers also sometimes produce work themselves.

Manager

Managers of screenwriters often give writers career advice, manage major decisions and even negotiate some contracts. They are interested in long-term goals for the development of a writer's career, and help them make business or financial decisions. They help promote the work of a screenwriter and work with agents to secure the best business contracts for their clients. Managers sometimes come from the field of producing or were agents previously, and managers of screenwriters tend to work in Hollywood or New York, where the film industry is concentrated.

Job responsibilities of a Manager include:

  • Developing strategies with screenwriters concerning their work and career
  • Negotiating commissions for work done and future work
  • Scheduling promotional work like signings, openings or appearances
  • Negotiating work with promoters, unions or studios for screenwriters' scripts or rewrites

Agent

Screenwriters work with agents to get their scripts in the hands of producers, directors or film studios. They also negotiate contracts and typically charge a client ten to twenty percent for their services. Agents are bonded and licensed and must know the laws of the state where they negotiate contracts. In California, they cannot act as film producers for a client's work.

Job responsibilities of an Agent include:

  • Representing screenwriters and submitting their work to interested parties
  • Negotiating fees for clients with buyers
  • Promoting the work of screenwriters throughout the industry
  • Staying current with publishing policies, union rules and state laws

Related Careers

There are several careers related to screenwriter managers and agents. Screenwriter agents promote and sell a script much like an advertising and promotions manager sells a product. Managers of screenwriters look after a client's career. Public relations and fundraising managers work to maintain coverage, awareness and favorable press for a product, client or business.

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