A series of interviews with hard-working writers – by another hard-working writer!
by Kelly Jo Brick
Finding the right representation can be a key component to growing and developing a writing career. TVWriter.com sat down with several managers to find out what they’re looking for in writers and what writers can be doing to help achieve success in the industry.
Manager Markus Goerg shares advice and experiences from his years of working with writers as co-founder of the production and management company, Heroes and Villains Entertainment.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A MANAGER?
Working with the clients, being in the trenches, developing story, coming up with solutions for problems that we encounter. And then as an extension of that is to then take that piece of material that we’ve honed and made it into this wonderful piece of writing and take it out and show it to the world and try to sell it and try to further the client’s career.
There’s something really magical about that process of having that new piece of material. There’s so much possibility with something new that nobody has seen. Especially something you’re really excited about. To get that out to people and convince them that it’s as great as you think it is.
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU FACE AS A MANAGER?
The biggest challenge is to learn how to deal with rejection. I have to deal with rejection on a daily basis. For every client that sits there and gets frustrated about the rejection that they feel on an individual basis, compound that by 20 or 60 overall. And that’s the type of rejection that the representative deals with, because for every yes, you get 150,000 nos and it can be challenging at times to remain positive, but that’s your job as a manager.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU RECEIVED AS YOUR CAREER WAS GROWING?
You have to focus on the people that you’re most passionate about. If you’re passionate about something, then chances are other people are passionate about the same thing and if you focus on that, that is going to give you the highest probability of success because you carry that passion out to others as you present the material that you’re working with.
WHAT’S THE MOST COMMON QUESTION YOU GET ASKED BY ASPIRING WRITERS AND HOW DO YOU ANSWER IT?
How do I become your client? And the answer is by writing an absolutely fantastic piece of material that you find a way to get to me. Be that send me an amazing query, find out who we do business with and somehow make a connection with those people or upload it to the Black List website and get a bunch of great recommendations and use that as an argument in your query why I should be taking a look.
WHAT CAN A CLIENT DO TO HELP YOU DO YOUR JOB?
A client can be relentless in their initiative to create new material. That is number one. I always say if your problem is not working, then you got to throw work at the problem. Okay, this script didn’t hit the way you wanted it to. You got a bunch of meetings out of it. You made new connections in the business. Write the next thing.
Stay relevant. Don’t be precious about material. If you become precious about one piece of material, you’re in trouble, because nobody else in the business thinks it’s precious. The only person who thinks it’s precious is you and to everybody else it’s just words on a page. So write more. If you want to break in the business as a feature writer, you’ve got to have 2 new features a year.
You want to diversify your portfolio a little bit. This is particularly true for television writers. I consider a television writer as somebody who needs a portfolio of work because there’s so many different shows out there and you want to have various samples that will make you a viable candidate for the various shows.
The other thing that you can do is maintain relationships that your agent or manager helped you get. So stay in touch with people. Go out to drinks. If you particularly connected with somebody that you sat down with, wait a few weeks and say hey, I really enjoyed our meeting. I would love to grab a beer next week or whenever your schedule allows and just catch up in general.
You’ll find that a lot of executives in business are open to this, especially if they are fond of you as a writer. You stay on an executive’s mind by two ways, one by continuously creating great material and the other by just staying on their radar. This is not to say ping them every five seconds and become a stalking nuisance. Obviously exercise caution in how much you want to be on their radar, because you may end up being on their radar as a stalker.
If an exec loved you, keep track of that. Keep your notes of your meetings. Know who you sat down with and when and what was discussed and why you liked them. Once you’ve sat down with sixty different executives, it’s going to be very hard to distinguish what was discussed in what room, so I implore people when they get out of a meeting, write themselves an email, keep a running notebook or an excel spreadsheet. Send an email afterwards to your representative. Hey, this meeting was great. We talked about blah, blah, blah. We connected on x, y, z. Shoot us an email and keep it in your own records so you can look back and find out what you connected on, especially if you end up having drinks with them six months later.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST MISTAKES YOU SEE WRITERS MAKING?
The biggest mistake I think is becoming the jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Young writers always feel they should be and could be writing in every genre there is. So you get a query, hey, I wrote this comedy and also I have this horror movie, but also I have this thing. I’m not interested in that person because I don’t know who they are and they don’t know who they are.
I’m interested in somebody who is a brand. Who understands what their brand is and who keeps pounding on that brand until the door opens. They haven’t asked themselves the question, what do I enjoy doing most and what can I be doing continuously with success for the next 25 or 30 years. And granted, that can change.
The other piece of advice that I would give is to go back to something I said earlier, which is keep creating opportunities for yourself by writing new stuff. Make it great. Make them give a shit. Hook people in by telling emotionally resonant stories. I think that’s really the biggest thing. Tell emotionally resonant stories. Tell stories that matter. Tell stories that are unique and only you can tell and keep telling them.
Kelly Jo Brick is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. She’s a television and documentary writer and producer, as well as a winner of Scriptapalooza TV and a Sundance Fellow. Read more about her HERE.