What Happens When Your Reps Leave the Industry?

What Happens When Your Reps Leave the Industry?

After all the hard work, late nights, and constant grind for that feature spec or pilot script (or, more likely, many scripts), you finally do it—you land a manager and/or agent! Congrats!

You feel lighter. An anvil sitting on your shoulders has been lifted. Suddenly, your scripts are being read, you’re taking meetings—heck, you feel like a writer! Maybe you even get staffed or get an open assignment writing job. Woo-hoo!

Then the WGA and SAG strikes happened—right after COVID shut down the entertainment industry. Now, IATSE and TAG may strike, movies are written off for tax purposes, there’s constant organizational restructuring within the studios, layoffs are really “in” right now, the threat of major players being bought out looms large … it’s a LOT these days, isn’t it?

And that amazing rep you have? They’re out. It’s not you, it’s them.

Poof! The rep is gone. What now?

Has this happened to you? Don’t stress! Let’s break down what’s going on and how to mentally handle such a sudden shift:

  • First: this isn’t about you. One friend of mine had a rep leave to go into publishing. Another knew an agent who left to become a ski instructor. Whatever the reason, it’s their decision. You don’t know their bank account or credit history—if someone wants to leave, that’s their right. Yes, it’s probably a pain in the butt for you in the short term, but everyone’s human, and after all, this is a business. Don’t take it personally.
  • The financial struggle is real right now. Maybe your rep is struggling for personal reasons, but if they can’t make it work financially, let’s face it, they need to find other work. Remember, they don’t get paid until you get paid. It’s a business partnership. And it’s no one’s fault (well, maybe Zaslav, but I digress) that the entertainment business is going through growing pains.
  • It’s not the end of the world. When your rep leaves, it can feel like your entire career has crumbled instantly. You worked so hard to get to this point! But trust us, it’s not the end. Not even close. So many other managers and agents are waiting to read your work.
  • Vent to your industry friends. Your aunt is lovely, but unless she’s Susannah Grant, she probably doesn’t get what you’re going through. Talk to your fellow writer friends about this. Ask for some time and space to complain to them without judgment. You’ll feel better about the situation once you kvetch with like-minded folks. If that isn’t your style, write it down in a journal or yell into your pillow. Just get any angry, icky, bitter, resentful feelings out of your system.
  • Don’t burn bridges. There’s no need to be a jerk. Even if your rep leaving feels awful, be chill. Everyone’s human, remember? Think about a bad breakup you’ve been through. Do you want to be the calm and reasonable person, or the person in the ex-relationship pitching a fit? In other words: be a mensch about it!

Now, let’s take a look at what’s in your power to help you take control of your career and pursue new representation:

  • Ask your immediate network for help. They’re the most likely to be able to help you get read, since their recommendation will mean more than a random email. You can also query managers and agents—you never know who’s willing to read you!
  • Ask your old rep for referrals to other managers. If they’re truly leaving the industry or can’t take you on anymore, they may be willing to give you a leg up by recommending you reach out to some of their colleagues.
  • Let them know you were repped. When you’re pitching yourself to new reps, you should also mention you were previously repped. That way, they can feel confident that you’re worth their time (since you were already repped). You don’t need to go into details and blow up your old rep’s spot, but just let them know, “I was repped with ___, and I’m currently seeking new representation.”
  • Do the work! Do the work that’s in your voice, with your words, in the genre you want to write in. Whether you’re crafting your own IP or adapting Shakespeare for a new generation, you want to put your best foot forward in addition to the great work you already have. It means making sure the work you have is up-to-date. If you haven’t written a new spec feature or pilot in a while, start outlining. Take another look at that half-idea you dropped a while back. Check your current scripts and treatments for grammar and spelling (seriously!). Once your work is ready, show it off as much as possible. Apply to contests and fellowships. Start a Subtack. Half the fun of creating is showing off, so do it—who knows, perhaps your new favorite rep will come across it.

Remember, your rep might be taking a different path, but that doesn’t mean you have to if you don’t want to. And if you do? That’s also fine. Hey, maybe there’s a snowboarding instructor position out there for someone who knows the ins and outs of Final Draft.

*Feature image by Jorm Sangsorn (Adobe)

Because everyone's voice should be heard ... without retribution.
More posts by Anonymous.
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