Jake Wagner, a manager at Benderspink, joined us this morning for an insightful and informative Launch Pad Twitter Chat session. Wagner represents writers Chris Roach, Victoria Aveyard, Evan Daugherty, and Lucas Sussman and his company, Benderspink, produced “We’re The Millers, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” and “Horrible Bosses 2.” This is Wagner’s second time judging a Launch Pad Competition and we were excited to have him down for a hour-long conversation about managing, query letters, page limits, and so much more.
In case you missed the session, here’s the transcript of Wagner’s Twitter Chat:
@MyTrackingBoard: To kick this chat off we’re gonna ask our own little Q: what about the Launch Pad competition drew you to it?
@JakeWagnerLA: The quality of the finalists and winners is exceptional, very commercial writing!
@TheWrookie: agents get work and managers act as editors? what’s the ultimate difference btwn the 2?
@JakeWagnerLA: we both do everything and bring different sets of relationships to the table, but Manager typically a lot more developmental
@chaosfilms: What’s the best way to approach you with a spec?
@JakeWagnerLA: if you can get to someone in the business, even an asst who loves and vouches and then sends to me, but if you don’t know anyone then a short and sweet query, title/logline
@ChristianSavage: What’s your favorite type of #writer to represent?
@JakeWagnerLA: Love to find original voices who can write commercial material. When art meets commerce.
@DavideFootball: the worst thing a #writer can do when trying to get you/another manager to read a script? Best pitching tip?
@JakeWagnerLA: Worst thing is calling me or querying multiple times or following up to fast when i have it to read
@JakeWagnerLA: like anything in life you have to play it cool
@RobbyGallais: How do you define commercial? At what point does “commercial” become “unoriginal”?
@JakeWagnerLA: commercial is something i can sell to the big studios and networks, something that will have… (Break) universal and international appeal. It also has to bring something new to the table
@2writestuff: Is the 120+ pg rule a thing? Will that get mgrs to put my script in the trash before they read pg1?
@JakeWagnerLA: yes, script should be between 98 – 118 tops. Each genre different. Horror/comedy 98-108 pgs
@JakeWagnerLA: big action tentpole or family comedy 106 – 118 pgs. General rule
@2writestuff: Follow up: how many pgs before deciding something isn’t good? Do I have to get you in the 1st 5? 10?
@JakeWagnerLA: it’s called crack 20 (read 20 pgs) but i usually know in the first 10, i always give it 15 tho
@TheWrookie: yay or nay on period pieces for #spec? more weight on story or genre?
@JakeWagnerLA: only write period if that’s all you can come up with, go for contemporary ideas first always
@twolitreian: Thoughts on genre jumping? Should a writer stick to 1 genre when trying to get noticed?
@JakeWagnerLA: very very important to brand yourself and own one genre in the beginning.
@JakeWagnerLA: once you have a career you can branch out, but stick to your strongest genre first
@maybemaple: What’s your approach w/ each #writer you work w/? Do you have 1 gen philosophy or is everyone different?
@JakeWagnerLA: everyone is different, but i do have a system in place that has worked again and again.
@JakeWagnerLA: i like to compare management to coaching a sports team, every coach has a unique style
@maybemaple: Follow up – Nice. So what’s your style? What system do you use?
@JakeWagnerLA: too long for a twitter conversation and a lot of it is confidential btw me and the clients
@twolitreian asks: Worst advice you see/hear people dishing out to new writers? Best Advice?
@JakeWagnerLA: best advice is always be writing something new and reading scripts and seeing movies (even bad ones)
@JakeWagnerLA: worst advice is when ppl tell someone there script is great when it’s not. Your friends and family are not honest reads, remember that. They will always love it, (even if they really hate it)
@AnotherEitan: I’ve had useful friends/family reads by having a conversation with them. Ask lots of questions.
@TheRealKennyKoo: have you ever regretted taking on a client? ever looked back & thought what was i thinking
@JakeWagnerLA: never regretted, but have found that i wasn’t on same creative page eventually and parted ways
@peterswiggum: what’s the appeal behind executive producing? It looks like you’re EP’ing on like 4 dif projects in dev
@JakeWagnerLA: like any business, the more you learn and know about all sides, the stronger you are
@Rich_Hynes: Quick follow up: What is the proper amount of time to wait before following up? (to a query)
@JakeWagnerLA: i would give it at least 2 wks, month tops
@textcrash: have an agent, wondering if a manager is a must too. will my agent resent an attempt to secure a manager?
@JakeWagnerLA: i am a manager, i am very pro having a manager, agent should not resent, is just more help for the client
@textcrash: and as a follow-up, are you more responsive to queries by agents than the writers themselves?
@JakeWagnerLA: if it’s from someone i already know in the business is always better because it has been vetted
@TheWrookie: essentials of a query letter? best things to include/omit?
@JakeWagnerLA: short and sweet, title/genre/2 sentence logline. Pls and thank you’s, be polite.
@TheWrookie: follow up: should we have some positive contest results or do we need any clout behind a spec?
@JakeWagnerLA: top 10 of certain contests def def helps (Nicholls, @scriptpipeline, @BlueCatPictures @scriptshark)
@MyTrackingBoard: #screenwriters & #filmmakers! We’re wrapping up our Q&A w/ @JakeWagnerLA soon. If you’ve got any last Qs tweet them to #LPQA
@OfSoundnVision: Do you also dabble in TV, and if so, what do you look for in a pilot?
@JakeWagnerLA: yes i do TV!!
@JakeWagnerLA: that was fun!! Now i have to get back to Managing!! Good luck everybody!!
@MyTrackingBoard: Big thanks to @JakeWagnerLA for sitting down with us to talk about managing and screenwriting! Tune in at 5pm for Launch Pad Pilot Comedy winner @Tsperlz, who’ll have plent to talk about #onwriting!