onflict of interest. More often than not, I’ll introduce this term to someone and get a resounding blank stare. Pertaining to entertainment it often refers to a rep’s own interest falling in direct opposition to his client’s.
A casting director who’s also an actor. A modeling agency that charges clients for headshots. A producer who’s also a sales rep. Countless examples. Most occur in the ugly, entry-level fringe of the business. Canada is awash with them. Perpetrated by those who simply don’t know any better or by genuine shysters.
In California, talent agents are not permitted to produce movies. This is due to conflict of interest: You can’t seek employment for a client and also be that client’s potential employer.
Literary managers however, can produce. My manager is a producer. He wants to produce my script. Told me so day one. Knee-jerk; feels like a conflict of interest. I’d probably have cautioned someone coming to me with this situation on the hazards. So why am I moving ahead?
To start with, Manager told me that he would never take commission on any project that he also produced. I’m glad he said that. It doesn’t eliminate possible conflict. But it put my mind at ease. Because if he hadn’t said it, then at some point I would have. And it’s never pretty when you have to tell someone that you’re not as think as they dumb you are.
The second reason I’m alright with this is that Manager wants nothing to do with the option negotiation. I got word today that I’m going to get the official option offer as early as next week. Manager told me he’d see me on the other side of this process. The option deal will be between me and the executive producers. I’m not sure how this normally works. Or whether there is a normal. But again, seems on the level.
The drawback will be not having Manager’s advice on the matter. And advice is sort of what a manager is there for. In a literary capacity but also in business. In my career. Fortunately option negotiations fall mostly to lawyers. So I’ll still be taken care of.
Following that however, I will find myself working for Manager as a producer. And that’s still a conflict in the strictest terms. You can’t butt heads with a boss then expect them to help further your career. All I can hope for is that there won’t be many opportunities to butt heads. My understanding is that feature film writers are quickly punted once the money starts flowing. Presumably once we find a director, that’ll be it for me. That’ll be it for any conflict.
Then Manager and I can get back to what’s important. What will hopefully still be there whether this project finds wings or not. My career.