And That Was That

t was a brief encounter. The first time I sat down with my literary manager. It’s also been the only time we’ve ever met face to face.

It was at a film festival. An opulent hotel lobby. A bustling hotel lobby. His hotel. I was couch surfing my stay.

We spoke for no more than twenty minutes. As we did I noticed Manager’s propensity to not make a lot of direct eye contact. I didn’t mind. In fact I quietly sympathized. I have this very affliction myself. I think it’s a vaguely autistic tendency.

That was over a year ago.

More recently, the last time I saw Manager he was on TV.

I’ve made the decision not to accept the requested “rewrite” from the producer who’s optioned my screenplay. “Rewrite,” in this case, being an underhanded way of asking for a brand new script. I’ve decided it’s against my best interest.

Not so long ago I landed a three month freelance contract. That’d be my freelance illustration career. Storyboarding a feature film as it were. The kind of contract you don’t say no to. The kind that takes care of next year’s mortgage.

If I accept to write a brand new script for Producer it means turning down any further freelance contracts for a period of time. Turning down real work for a really raw deal.

Can’t do it.

Despite having lost complete faith in Producer, I none the less offered to do the new script as long as I had unlimited time to complete it. Just in case another actual paying gig comes along. Spending weeks writing Producer’s ideas into a new script – unfortunately – isn’t gonna keep my lights on. Bright ideas as he may think they are.

Producer declined to give me leeway.

Refused, yet again, to grant me something while asking for everything.

And here I was told only months ago by Co-Manager what a team we all were. That’s why I did their unpaid rewrite after all. To be a team player. Nice to know what that’s worth.

So I bowed out.

Wished them all the best. Sincerely. After all, there really is no loss for me here. They’ll take on a new writer. If she can give them what they want for a pittance then they’ll exercise the option, make the movie and I’ll have sold my script (even though they’re not going to use it) for a fortune. And if they don’t manage to make their movie, they let the option lapse and I get my script back.

Remember, at one time this script had two offers on it. If I get it back, it’ll go right back out there and I’ll find someone else to produce it.

Can you believe I’ve been told that I’m a pessimist?

So after consulting with Lawyer, I’ve walked away. At least that’s what I tell people. Truth is I was forced out, but hey, see above.

The only real loss I’ve been feeling is that I’m pretty sure this will spell the end to my relationship with Manager. Pretty sure it’ll be the end of the representation I’ve toiled so hard, for so many years to attain. As he’s also a producer on the project, I imagine this will muck up his shit a little too. Though who’s to say for sure? I haven’t heard from the guy since Co-Manager became my primary handler. I imagine that’s over too.

But on reflection I suspect that the idea that I ever really had a manager was pretty deluded.

That day in the opulent hotel lobby? Manager wasn’t not making eye contact. He wasn’t a socially-awkward kindred spirit…

He wasn’t looking me in the eye because he was looking over my shoulder. At the bustling lobby full of show business professionals in town for the festival. He was looking for someone more important to talk to.

The last time I saw Manager he was on TV. Completely out of left field, I was just shuffling the dial. He was on TV with his star client. The writer to whom he owes his career. As I sat watching – my own project in shambles, hoping to hear from him – the truth was as clear as the high definition screen.

You can’t lose what you never had.


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