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ADVICE NEEDED! Does this management deal sound bad?

Roger Alexander

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Hey guys, I apologize for the long email, I just want to make sure you see the big picture. I've got a potential deal on the table that I feel like is a little too giving on my end. I plan to meet back with him and go over my concerns, ask questions about potentially changing the deal, maybe making a counteroffer. But I want to have my guns loaded, be prepared, knowledgeable and know what options are available on this subject before I do so. I've got some questions, and I also feel like there are questions that I'm unaware of out of ignorance that I should be asking. I've broken this up into parts so you can follow along and get all the info.

Background on Me: I'm director/DP/editor in Atlanta. I dabble in different things but the majority of my work comes from hip hop/rnb/pop music videos. The work in my reel stands out and my quality is considered to be in the top tier for directors in Atlanta.

You can see the reel of my work at www.alphamalevisuals.com/reel

I'm still relatively new to the city, and I have realized that it's not the best directors or cinematographers that get the opportunities to shoot bigger budget videos with bigger artists (which is one of my goals). It's all about your network and who you know that will recommend you to do a particular job. I moved to ATL in March of 2016 where I started completely fresh from ground 0. I started networking and really didn't start making money until around July. Since then, my momentum as slowly been growing as I go out and try to network and get into different circles. However, alot of my work has been from out of towners or "smaller" local artists from instagram or youtube with ok budgets. I do have a decent IG following for a director (40k followers on instagram) and I have been getting my own projects. But I haven't broken into the bigger budget/bigger artist scene yet as a director. I've only been hired on those jobs by other directors to light/dp/ and shoot for them. In 2017, I'm trying to break out into the big stage as a director and ultimately be able to charge these higher prices and make more money.

My Dillemma: I've been approached with an opportunity to have a "manager" who is well connected in the industry and could be "that guy" to plug me into these bigger jobs with bigger budgets and artists. He has worked with a couple well-known directors in the past that I have actually studied and looked up to. He didn't necessarily manage them and get a cut, but he referred clients to that director for work. Now that he has seen my work and I'm a new face, he sees a financial opportunity and has put an offer on the table to form a team where he will push my brand and make connections and referrals for me to get bigger jobs. Once he starts getting me the first few jobs, it will turn into a snowball effect and the door will open for many more bigger budget/bigger artist jobs....supposedly. Over time, we would begin to charge higher prices. The catch here is that, if he's going to plug me in, he wants to sign a contract that states he will receive 20% of ANY project that I shoot going forward. Even the projects that he doesn't bring me.

My Reaction: This sounds like a bit much to me, but maybe because I've never seen what a deal like this is supposed to look like. I assume this is the equivalent to having an agent or representation from a company that can get you jobs you normally couldn't get yourself. I just start thinking about the amount of work that goes into doing a big production because I am the director and the DP, so I spend days preparing, figuring out how I'm going to light it etc. I'm also the editor, so I spend days after the shoot editing it. I'm wondering if taking out that much for a manager would be worth it.

My Questions:

1. What's the average percentage a manager like this should be getting? Is 20% a fair number? Should it be 20% of what I'm getting paid or 20% of the total production budget. For example, the total available budget a client might have to spend on a video is $4,000. I would be getting paid $2,000 and the rest would go to location rentals, props etc. other expenses to make the production. Should he be getting 20% of my pay $2,000 or the total $4,000

2. Is it fair that he would get 20% of jobs that he didn't reccomend me for? I do have some relationships in Atlanta and it's slowly growing over time. I feel like, getting to where I want to be is ultimately a task that that I could reach on my own without a manager, but it would take MUCH longer to build that reputation and name. I'm worried that, I sign the contract, I start getting these bigger budgets & working with bigger names, but a large portion of the money is coming out, I'm not getting paid the money that I feel I should, then I feel like I'm stuck, or the amount of work that I'm doing isn't worth the money I'm getting. etc What good is a good name if I'm not making good money? I don't want to regret signing it.

3. I also work on projects that don't have to deal with the music industry; feature films from unrelated clients, small business commercials, reality tv. Should he be getting a cut from those?

4. On the flip side, I do understand the possibility that once my name starts getting bigger, clients may start reaching out to me directly instead of going through him, and then it will be hard to tell if it was a client I wouldn't have gotten if it wasn't for him.

5. What about jobs I already had lined up before the potential signing of the contract? Should he get a cut out of that?

6. I'm thinking that if I DID sign something like this, there should be a specified time period that it should be in effect for. It shouldn't be an indefinite deal forever. How long should a manager contract like this last for?

7. If I feel at some point during the term that the deal just isn't worth it anymore or I feel like I'm not getting the return that I should, what are my options of getting out of the contract? Can I get out of it? How should this section be written to protect my best interests?

8. When I sit down with him to talk about making changes to the deal, what are some other points that I should bring up that maybe I haven't brought up to protect or be in my best interests?

I'm looking for any type of advice from people who have seen something like this before and what my options might be.


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I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole, but I'm from a long way away and the situation may differ.


Anything like this really depends on how confident you are that this person will help you. Giving this person 20% of your income is a hell of a lot if he isn't promising anything absolutely cast-iron in return.



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1. 20% of your fee (NOT the total budget)


2. Depends entirely on what he's going to be doing for you. If he can up your income by 50-100% by pushing you to the right people, then 20% would seem a very fair arrangement. Personally (at least while beginning the relationship) I would only want to be paying commission on the jobs he actually brings to the table.


3. Again, depends on what it is he's actually doing for you. A 'manager' is not an 'agent', they're not just taking a commission on the jobs they get you/formalise for you. If he's going to be managing your career and involved in all of the work you're doing, then that's different from simply sourcing work for you.


4. (don't know what your question is there)


5. Jobs arranged before the agreement should not be part of the agreement. That would be silly.


6. Absolutely. Start with a 12 month contract and go from there. I WOULD ABSOLUTELY NOT be entering into an open-ended or long-form contract without any real appreciation for what he can offer you as a manager. If he proves his worth, then you'll absolutely want to keep working with him - but figure that out first, and don't make a contract longer than 12 months.


7. You could include a non-performance clause in the contract, basically stating that if they bring no quantifiable benefit to your work through their management (or have an adverse effect on your work) that the contract can be terminated and you can go your separate ways. That quantifiable benefit would need to be defined in the contract though.


8. Get a REALLY clear idea of what it is that he can bring to the table. Ask him what his strengths are, what he thinks his weaknesses are. What expectations he has of the relationship, and what expectations he has of you.

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Agree with avoiding a super long-term agreement.


You're doing pretty well without a manager to get work on a Gucci Mane video. Is there any way you can talk the guy down from 20%? Every time I talk to my peers about cuts they always view 20% as a tad too high.


Also; work the guy doesn't bring you also getting taxed by him is ridiculous.

What if you sign the deal, he never brings you a thing, and then you're giving him free money for a year?

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  • 3 weeks later...
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Even if you do this deal you won't stop looking for your next gig ...right? This a typical bad deal/scam in which you end up working and hustling to find work because you are highly motivated then giving 20% to someone who you have no control over. Key question -are you the only client for this "manager"? Unless the "manager" has an established track record like a talent agency you are looking at a form of indentured servitude.


You loose control of your clients and reputation.


Work hard, be patient opportunities will come.

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