Kelly Jo Brick: The Write Path With Manager Eddie Gamarra, Part 2

A series of interviews with hard-working writers – by another hard-working writer!

by Kelly Jo Brick

Eddie Gamarra headshotFinding 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.

Eddie Gamarra, a former college professor, has spent the last 11 years working at the management/production company The Gotham Group. After starting as assistant, Gamarra stepped into the role of literary manager where he represents animation, children and family entertainment talent including writers, directors, artists and publishers. You may want to read Part 1 HERE.

TELL US ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP YOU HAVE WITH YOUR CLIENTS.

Part of the job description is I’m the priest confessor. I am the psychoanalyst. I’m the Guidance Counselor to these people because, you know, one of the things you hear in our business is, “Well, this isn’t brain surgery.” And it’s not. And we shouldn’t be too filled with self importance here, but on my side, on the representation side, you are dealing with people who are going through divorce, who lost a baby in the third trimester, who have become homeless, who are suffering from addiction, who have to file bankruptcy, who have to become adult caretakers of senior parents, who have no health insurance for their family.

And while it may not be brain surgery, I’ve had clients who’ve had to have brain surgery and they’re relying on guild health insurance or steady payment from their employer with no disruption in their payment flow. And so even though what I do is not necessarily in the surgery theater. It’s potentially equally lifesaving. Not to inflate our own self-importance, but we are really in the thick of it with our clients on a very intimate level sometimes.

WHAT CAN A WRITER DO TO HELP YOU DO YOUR JOB?

I need them to number one, pay attention to the marketplace. They need to see what’s being released. What pilots are being shot. What series are being launched. They need to pay attention to what’s actually coming out. Then they need to look at those end credits and see who’s making those things. They need to educate themselves about what’s actually happening around them, because you have to be able to speak to your comps. You have to be able to make those comparisons that are smart and current.

Number two is stay on top of things that are happening outside of your industry like you may be in film or TV, but take a look at the New York Times Best Seller list. More than half of the film and TV projects out there are based on books or comics. Learn that industry. Expose yourself to that industry. Be reading outside of your interest area because you need to know what’s exciting that’s happening in storytelling beyond your media.

And then thirdly, have a day job. Try not to rely on a freelance lifestyle for your rent. The best writer is an employed writer and if you’re not getting the jobs as a writer yet, we believe in you and you believe in you, but have a day job if you can. I find that people who’ve had interesting, diverse life experiences are often better storytellers in general. Verbally, textually, visually. They’ve seen more life. They tell more complicated, interesting, layered stories. They have life experience.

Don’t be afraid to go take a one day seminar on personal finances or take a one day seminar on intellectual property law or invest in going to licensing show in Vegas or invest in going to Toy Fair in New York or invest in spending the weekend at E3. Look at how stories are being told in these other ways. Through merchandise. Through toys. Through digital. That stuff stimulates your brain.

WHAT IS SOME OF THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE GOTTEN ALONG THE WAY?

I think the best business advice I actually got was from my dissertation advisor because when grad students have to write that dissertation, that’s a giant thing. That is a big, giant onerous task in front of you. My advisor said, “Eddie, the best dissertation is a done dissertation. And you could keep researching and you could keep revising your manuscript for your dissertation. Just get it done.”

And I’ve carried that mentality with me to Hollywood. How do we translate that to our clients? Client comes in, “I have an idea for a movie,” it’s a writer/director filmmaker client and we say, “Okay, what’s the minimum amount of money you need and the minimum amount of time you need to get this movie done?”

So the guy says, “I can probably shoot this in a week for about $200,000.” Okay. Let’s work on getting the script to a place where you can actually do that. And let’s encourage you to not wait for Warner Bros. and Sony and Paramount and Universal to read a script and probably note it to death and maybe say yes, maybe say no. It’s cast contingent, it’s schedule contingent, it’s budget contingent.

You can walk into any coffee shop in LA this weekend and cast and crew a movie. You could. Go do it. Go make a movie. Go make a pilot episode. Why not?  You can do this. Don’t wait for other people to give you permission to do it. You came here to do it, go do it.

WHAT OTHER ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WRITERS?

Build up a war chest. Really create some savings. Learn how to manage your personal finances. It’s not creative advice. It’s life advice. Learn how to manage your personal finances, because when you do get that big check, you may not get another check for 5 years. So don’t go buy a Ferrari. Don’t go buy a house that you can’t afford the mortgage on. Learn how to manage your personal finances. Get a good accountant.

Before you enter the game, learn the rules of the game. Observe the game. Read Deadline. Watch the politics of it. See how it all unfolds. Figure out who are the meaningful people and focus on getting your stuff to those meaningful people. There’s really only a few thousand people in this industry who really make decisions.

Find out who matters. Who are the people who have output deals who actually are guaranteed distribution? Who are the people that are making the big hit shows who are probably going to have commitments from a network or from a channel or from a studio for more? Try to get your stuff to those people.

There’s a lot of fly by night people here. There’s a lot of loose money, financiers, foreign money. That’s fine, but if you really want to be in this for the long haul, who are the Chernin’s of the world? Who are the J.J. Abrams of the world? Who are the people who aren’t just selling a show or a movie? Who are the people who are building empires? Focus on getting to those people. You can do all that research on your own. That’s easy to do with the internet now. When I grew up, all I had was my subscription to Variety and my film classes.

Think multi-media in the sense that you may be struggling with your script. Maybe it’s a graphic novel. Maybe it’s a book. Maybe it’s something other than what you intended it to be. Why not try practicing those other creative modalities?


Kelly Jo Brick is a Contributing Editor at TVWriter™. 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.

Peer Production: TALES OF REBELLIOUS STONE

Tales of Rebellous Stone Capture

The real beauty of peer production, AKA doing it all yourself, is that you have no excuse for not being bold. Not that KC.5 would ever need an excuse cuz this baby is BOLD BOLD BOLD!!!

Oh, and reverent. Reverent as all hell:

Peer Production: LELE’S RATCHET ADVICE SHOW

lelesratchetshowCapture

Whoa! Home girl’s learned how to edit. Nicely done, Leesa. We’re diggin’ it.

Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie, Chapter 8

chilltowntvmeme2

by Leesa Dean

A lot of exciting stuff is going on. The biggie: Chilltown was listed by ABCNews/Univision as Web Series That Should Be On Your Radar!!!!! And we got an incredible review! Ecstatically happy about it. Also, did a ton of fun radio including Geek Soul Brother,Educated Insanity (on ChicagolandsportsRadio), The Bobby Pickles Show and KRYC Rhythm 105.9 FM !! Also released Episode 6 of Chilltown and people are telling me they love it. In spite of all that, there’s still a bit of frustration that always boils down to the same thing: How can I get more people to watch? We’re still a very tiny show in an enormous pool. Have a lot of plans in place for additional shows and specials that (hopefully) will make a little noise. But it’s a tough tough game. Much tougher than I expected. But, in all, a really good week.

And I heard from Rollo. Last Friday, went to another YouTube meeting and it was great! Met some cool people plus got to see the YouTube studios at Next New Networks NYC. Very exciting. They have a couple of green screen studios with pro lights and cameras. Some of the collabs I’m involved with will probably be done there. Part of the meeting involved having a tour and being shown the ropes (a prerequisite to using their space.) Their computers are probably a billion times faster than mine, so can’t wait to do some editing there. A guy name Chris Chan Roberson runs stuff there and he’s great. They had pizza and drinks after and everybody was schmoozing and just like clockwork right towards the end, my phone rings. Guess who? Rollo happens to be in the area and we meet.

He’s been having meetings to get his other project back on track and serenades me with more stories of excess and glitz. He’s been using every connection he has to rope in another MAJOR CELEBRITY (!!) to prove his relevance but things haven’t gone as planned. The week before he abruptly flew out to LA to attend a hipper-than-thou dinner party in a sad last ditch effort to hang on by his fingertips. A minor mix of dps, on-the-rise actors, Interscope execs and big shots from Vice and UTA. But nobody bit. His shine is gone. He’s used up most of his money. He cuts to the chase.

He knows someone who works at a cable network. It’s a long shot but they might be interested in Chilltown. Did I want to push up the schedule and take a meeting?

Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie, Chapter 7 – Four Bad Things

what-doesnt-kill-you-copy

by Leesa Dean

This has been a crazy week.  A lot of ups and downs. Did four really awesome podcasts and radio shows (thank you Surfing AliensGeek Supremacy ProjectWide Open Radio After Dark and Comedy Girls!!)  Also have some potentially really exciting news that I’ll share sometime soon.  But one thing in particular stood out.  I was contacted by a large online network.  They said they loved my work and wanted me to drop what I was doing to animate (and help develop)  a series for one of their top stars.  Sounds exciting?  Not really.  What they offered in terms of compensation was, let’s just say this–I’d make more money being a Walmart greeter.  With that in mind, this week I decided to put together this list:

FOUR BAD THINGS YOU’LL PROBABLY EXPERIENCE WHILE LAUNCHING YOUR FIRST WEB SERIES:

1) You will hear from psychos. Case Study: The Satan Lady. I posted the latest Lele Episode, Pimp Logic, on Google +. A woman who apparently didn’t realize I was mocking pimp logic commented and called me “Satan!” But she misspelled it and wrote, “Go way, SATIN!!!” I considered responding, “Satan, Satin, Satan, Satin, let’s call the whole thing off” then realized hmmm, maybe she thought I *was* a pimp and “Satin” was my pimp name. #ThingsI’llNeverKnow.

2) You will have people enter (what I call) “The Vortex”, a metaphorical tunnel where everyone’s there to do just one simple thing: NOT RETURN YOUR CALLS. Sometimes it has to do with them being bombarded with a ton of stuff and you’re low on the food chain. Sometimes it’s cause they have bad time management skills. And sometimes it’s because they think your project sucks, you suck or a zesty melange of both!  FYI, you’ll ALWAYS think it’s the latter. Which brings me to:

3) You will start seeing the upside of being an alcoholic. Note: this applies even if you don’t drink.

And finally,

4) You will go through the Kübler-Ross stages of grief, Web Series style:
• Denial (“All I have to do is put my show up on YouTube and it’ll instantly go viral!”)
• Anger (“When they said, ‘Just a dollar and a dream!’ I didn’t realize they were referring to what my actual compensation would be.”)
• Bargaining (“Yes, I will appear on your 30 minute podcast, Xylophones & Madrigals, and agree to a 45 minute phone ‘pre-interview’ where you grill me about what I’m gonna say on the show just so I can promote my hip-hop oriented web series to an audience of one: the host of Xylophones & Madrigals.”)
• Depression (“I was just on Xylophones & Madrigals.”)
• Acceptance (“Hi, I’m writing to book my second appearance on Xyophones & Madrigals.”)

Next week: more about Rollo and tales from the YouTube workshop!