Managers, Agents, and Execs: A Film Industry Breakdown

As you network and set your screenwriting goals, getting representation and setting up meetings may be at the top of your list. Film industry reps like managers and agents can put your script in the right hands and execs can greenlight your projects or set you up for staffing. Having good connections can give you the momentum you need to launch a successful screenwriting career.

But! Before you set up meetings with various film industry insiders, let’s breakdown the differences between them: how can they help you, and how do they differ?

Literary Managers

A literary manager works alongside their clients to develop scripts. By keeping a network of production & network execs, agents, directors, and talent, managers have their fingers on the pulse of Hollywood and can help develop your concept into a marketable, saleable idea. Managers set up meetings, give feedback on scripts and pitch treatments, and tend to focus on your long-term career development.

A writer’s relationship with a good literary manager should feel like a partnership. Because development can be a long process, look for a manager who you can trust will go to bat for you and sees the potential and your vision in your work. Are their notes valuable? Do they get it? 

A writer’s relationship with a good literary manager should feel like a partnership.

Literary management companies can vary in their priorities. For example, management-production companies focus on producing scripts in-house from their roster of writers. Non-production management companies can vary too: some managers are more development-focused, while others like to seek staffing opportunities concurrently. There are pros and cons to the different styles of management, so have a clear vision of your career goals.

Agents

An agent brokers deals and negotiates the details of contracts. Similar to managers, their commission is a set percentage of your contracted pay. Agents tend to have more clients than managers and focus on executing deals rather shaping your writing career over the long-term. Agents can submit your work to producers and executives. A good agent is an advocate who negotiates fair rates and contract terms for their client. 

Film Production Exec
An agent in the film industry brokers deals and negotiates the details of contracts.

Both managers and agents are able to submit your work to producers and execs. So a deal may already be in the works before you get your first agent. Finding a good fit still matters: even if an agent doesn’t guide your long-term career, it’s important to align with someone who will put in the work to sell your scripts and has the business expertise to guide you through development.

Production Execs

Cold queries don’t have to be limited to agents and managers. Production executives also look to staff writers’ rooms and fill open writing assignments (OWA’s). They’re interested in seeking out promising screenwriters.

At your first general meeting, a production exec will talk about your work to:

  1. Seek projects on their production slate that align with your voice and your interests
  2. See if your work is a good fit for them to develop

Production execs work closely with managers and agents. They can help set you up with representation if they’re interested in taking you on for a project.


When it comes to networking in the film industry, there are many people who can help build your career. Connecting with representatives and executives is a great way to find people interested in supporting your work and your screenwriting career.

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