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Do we have directors managers here in the UK?

Hi Shooters,

So I imagine that I'm not alone in asking this question but having conducted a reasonably thorough search on IMDB Pro I'm struggling to find someone/a company that occupy the sort of niche that seems to exist in the UK wherein someone takes an active role in steering a directors career.

I've spent the past dozen years or so making short films and recently released my debut feature Lad and am now working on a followup script. Along the way I've worked on some big studio films as a crew member and I've made a lot of contacts both in the studio and independent world but am struggling to progress from self-created work to director for hire.

My feeling is that I have the materials, the experience and the contacts but my inability to convert these things could be overcome by hiring someone to 'channel' me.

Is this a refrain that anyone else understands or has experience of? Is there anyone that you've met who you could recommend for the role?

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Dan
www.ladayorkshirestory.com
www.roguerunner.com

  • If I were you I would join Directors UK (www.directors.uk.com). They do lots of networking and I'm sure you would get a lot of help.

    3 months ago
  • Hey Mark, I am a member of Directors UK. I think they're a great organisation. Have attended a number of events, screenings etc and I think they've launched some great initiatives recently, such as the placements on Holby etc so I definitely value them. I'm seeking someone/something a bit more bespoke though.

    3 months ago
    • I think Mark is saying to go to some of their events and ask around. I'm sure there must be directors there that have a manager.
      I'm really surprised by this. Throw a stick here in L.A. and you'll hit 10 managers. Typically here, management companies tend to cover all of the above the line talent. That way that can package their own writers with their own actors and directors. With that in mind, you might look into larger management companies.

      3 months ago
    • @Dan Selakovich Hey Dan, D-Uk has been a great resource but inherently there events are overwhelmingly filled with other directors in similar quandaries. Hopefully they'll branch out to include more producers in the future as networking is much more effective between the disciplines.

      3 months ago
  • Not suer if any of these are any good, but they do represent Directors.

    smatalent.com/
    bba.management/creatives
    www.creativemediamanagement.com/category...

    3 months ago
  • There are many talent agents that handle directors. I know for a fact that Independant Talent Group (www.independanttalent.com) does. You've just got to approach them. Although, I think, with Agents, they normally appraoch potential clients; people they think they can work with etc.

    3 months ago
    • Hi Mark, thanks again for contributing. I've approached various agents in the past and indeed at one of the D-UK events there was an agent event. The telling thing said there was 'if we haven't approached you, then you're probably not ready.' That seemed to sum up the predicament faced by unwrapped directors quite well I thought and whilst I understand their point, it's a particularly lazy take on things as it negates all discovery to other channels/events/releases.

      What I'm hoping for is to hire someone directly, pay them a monthly retainer and set up goals as to people we can contact, jobs that can be chased with a view to then allocating a fee split on that work. I personally feel that it always appears stronger when someone represents you, versus contacting people direct - it indicates you're on the next level as it were.

      3 months ago
  • Representation doesn't make jobs appear, it just means you've someone who can help negotiate your deals. If you have enough work that you can be choosy, then maybe some career management will be useful. If you don't, it probably won't.

    I wouldn't suggest being in a rush to sign up with an agent - it'll cost you 15% of everything you earn, and the wrong agent will be worse for you than no agent. I have had agents try on the "if you want person x you have to take persons y and z from me too", where x was not a big star, and y and z were not worth the silly price they were demanding. It cost x the job. Some(?) agents first loyalties are to themselves.

    3 months ago
    • Hey Paddy, I'm not imagining a quick or easy fix, rather a situation in which I hire a manager and we meet once a month, set goals, share contacts, determine what jobs are out there and that they or I contact people pursuant to that. I take your point about agents packaging stars etc and I think that situation will exist whether i'm repped or not as WME or CAA or going to push their talent as a package but currently I've really got my mind on picking up some small scale UK TV work whilst also packaging a (small again) US set indie feature, and I think in both instances a manager would be helpful.

      3 months ago
  • Thanks everyone for your input so far, it's great to get your thoughts.

    Perhaps what might suit better is a consultant? Someone whom I can hire for a couple of days every month, who has good industry contacts, a wide knowledge of what jobs are starting up, who can broker an introduction and give feedback on how to represent myself, with some sort of fees payable on any work garnered.

    This isn't a practice I've heard of here in the UK but a lot of my work is as a crew member on studio films so I'm often taken out of action for five months at a time and once I factor in holidays and family time and catching up with my contacts I find that the year slips by without much progress being made. I figure that by hiring someone to 'manage' my endeavours on a continuing basis I might get better traction.

    Can anyone recommend a suitable candidate or have any thoughts on a different approach?

    3 months ago
  • Mangers work for a percentage of the income they bring you, so it's in their best interest to find you work.

    However like the rest of the film industry, success creates more success - they're going to want to rep successful directors who are bringing in the money and are going to make them money. If you're not likely to make them any money, you'll struggle to get representation.

    I wouldn't pay a manager to find you work, they would then be getting paid regardless of whether they got you any work.

    You can have a manager or an agent, or both - agents are more focused on negotiating deals, whereas managers tend to work towards finding work and developing a career.

    I was repped by a manager for a few years, and he did work quite hard to try and get me jobs, however I just wasn't experienced or successful enough to compete for the jobs he was putting me forwards for.

    3 months ago
  • It's a good idea to look up the agents of directors whose work you admire and approach them. There is a world of difference between agents in the UK and the US - I speak from experience as someone who just gave a Brit agent the boot for being useless. And as a journalist I've interviewed a number of people who have had similar complaints.

    3 months ago
  • It strkes me that what you are really looking for is a mentor rather than a manager or an agent?

    3 months ago
    • I think manager is still the best name though ultimately it's semantics but whereas a mentor might not expect payment, I'm wanting someone to provide a service that has a value and which they feel a commitment towards.

      3 months ago
  • Hey Dan,
    for what it's worth. I made a list of agencies I wanted to join and worked out what I was gonna say, then phoned them one by one. After 2 "we're not interested fuck off" the third agency on my list was independent talent.

    Luckily for me one agent actually picked up the phone himself and after giving him my spiel, he asked me to email him my CV and show reel. I carried on down the list of 20 and only one other agent asked me to send in my details.

    The independent talent agent got back to me within 2 hours of seeing my showreel and asked me in for a meeting the next day. He is young, hungry and has his head screwed on and all his 8 directing clients were working when I went to see him in his office. He also was so enthusiastic about my short, when he offered to take me on I jumped at the chance. I had another meeting with the other agent but I blew them off.

    What I love about my agent is that he really believes in me, and gets me in for strategy meetings every 3 months to see where we are and what sort of work i want as a director and what companies I want to work with.

    The most difficult thing for me before my agent came on board was getting into a room with the sort of people I wanted to work with. So we concentrated on that for the first few months and I met a handful of really interesting producers and companies. Since then I have directed my first TV credit, and going to to my next one.

    I don't know what he does or how he does it, but I have now been offered an episode of a high end tv series for ITV. The producer wanted to "meet me to discuss an upcoming episode" and sent me a copy of the show. I can hardly believe it! For the first time, since I started this whole filmmaking lark, I am working as a TV drama director and booked up months in advance, which is an amazing feeling.

    So i guess, I'm saying, it was definitely worth me calling all 20 agencies, asking if any of the agents there would consider taking me on as a client, because I found the right agent for me.Good luck with your search i'm sure the right person for you is out there.

    3 months ago
    • Thanks for responding in such a detailed way. That's a great story. So rare to find someone that invested in developing talent as oppose to 'finding' it. Well done! I think after having tried various agents over the years I've become a little disenfranchised but your story reminds me that there will always be an exception to the rule and that persistent is obviously the key quality any of us possess!

      3 months ago
  • Another thing my agent did, was when my first TV credit was broadcast in December is, he let so many producers and all the other agents at Independent talent know and probably pressured them to watch it! What was really lovely is that several of the agents emailed me to congratulate me and said if I ever needed access to their high profile actors, they would facilitate that for me. Which will be very useful when I try to package my first feature.
    It's better to go for a young, hungry, enthusiastic agent with a few up and coming clients than one with high profile director clients or one with lots of clients where you are going to get lost in the crowd.

    3 months ago
  • Hi Dan. I represent a number of award-winning European writer/directors, as well as actors.

    My clients are all handpicked, people for whom I believe I can make a difference.

    As you mention in some comments here, it's not a quick fix or ticket through the golden doors. What it can provide is a focus on what matters most to your career, providing advice, direction and support, as well as a opportunity to brainstorm fresh ideas. I also keep the ball rolling while my directors get on with what they're best at: making films.

    Of course, there is outreach, networking, and being a point of contact. I also do script reading and even advise on casting. Calling on my experience and contact base for whatever the director needs at that time.

    If you would like to talk more, let me know. Always happy to meet to chat over coffee or via Skype.

    2 months ago
    • Hi Marcus, thanks for getting in touch. I'd certainly be interested in meeting with you. Would you mind emailing me at roguedan@me.com and we can arrange.

      Thanks

      2 months ago
    • Hi Marcus, I'm not sure if I received an email from you last month, would you mind emailing dan@roguerunner.com so we can set up a meeting?

      Best
      Dan

      1 month ago