Circle of Confusion Manager Daniela Garcia-Brcek
Final Draft: So to start out, how did you start out as a manager?
Daniela Garcia-Brcek: When I was at NYU, I studied film production with a minor in film producing. Within that minor, film producing, I worked with a lot of established producers in the industry who were adjunct professors. We would take screenwriting classes but it was more so how to workshop and how to develop material. And at that point I realized I like working with scripts. Mind you, my professors were producers so I thought, “OK, I want to be a producer.” When I moved out to L.A., the first job I had was at Circle of Confusion. I worked for the two in-house producers. And during that period of time we were developing material with the intention for us to produce it. I saw the development through for this project called, Spare Parts based on an article called La Vida Robot, from the script all the way until the movie premiered, and it was a really cool experience.
But then I thought, “OK, I’ve been on one indie movie, now I want to go work for a studio.” In an off-the-beaten path choice, I ended up going to MGM, working there for a few months and realizing, at that point, the value of representation. My bosses at the time were having conversations with agents and managers and I thought, I really didn’t get the opportunity to learn what being a representative was while I was at Circle because I was working for producers. So I quit my job at MGM. I put in my two weeks, called the Office Manager over here (at Circle of Confusion) and said, “Is there a chance I can come back under the condition that I can learn more about management?” And he was like, “Yeah, come on over!” It was this very, “you’re welcome with open arms” feeling. So upon my return I worked for two managers and immediately realized that the development aspect that I liked so much in college and while working for the producers (that I didn’t get a lot of working with the studio), I love everything about it. It’s finding talent, developing them, creating a strategy for them, and then introducing them to the town, and being that person in their life that they need to start their career. That was when I expressed to the company, “I would really love to be a manager here.” The sensibilities of Circle are really great in terms of bringing new voices to the forefront. And so within a year and a half I had been promoted to Manager.
Final Draft: You talked about that excitement of finding new talent, how do you find your clients?
Daniela: A variety of ways but I think 90% of my new clients come from referrals. So whether it’s an executive or a close friend of mine who found something – it can be anything, a play or even a video online. But then the other remaining percentage, I’m scouting it out through contests, as a judge, seeing who’s won, or even following certain twitter handles or Facebook pages, places where writers can showcase their work. For example, Vimeo has “Short of the Week”. In that way, it’s easier for me to choose what I like and dislike, then look at my rooster and ask, “what am I missing?”
Final Draft: What genres and formats do you enjoy the most? What works inspire you?
Daniela: That’s such a tough question. I love psychological thrillers when they’re done really well, those absolute page-turners, really speak to the writers craft. But if you’re writing a comedic script that has me in stitches and I’m laughing out loud – I love that too. Just like there’s an experience of going to the movie theater, it’s about the experience of what’s on the page. So I can’t define what the genre is, it’s just about whether the writer is aware of the reader, and I find that anything that’s horror, psychological thriller or science-fiction, where there’s this fantasy element that makes you feel, “I’m truly escaping into this world” – then it’s not just a script.
Final Draft: That’s a great way to put it, that the writer is thinking about the person reading their material. That’s an important skill for a writer.
Daniela: It really is. And I do find that writers who have been writing for a while, whether they’ve been writing since they were ten years old or writing for ten years, they are honing that craft, of letting stories breathe on the page, not have to spell everything out. That makes it more fun for the reader.
Final Draft: How have you seen writers hone that skill?
Daniela: It really is just writing, writing, writing. And then knowing that, if you have this idea, people might say, “that’s not commercial” or “that’s not something that will sell” but if it’s an idea that just itches at you, you know that if you don’t tell this story it’s going to nag at you. I think writers improve their skill when they tell all the stories they feel they should be the ones telling. I just think of Isaac Adamson who wrote Bubbles. I had a conversation with his manager and he was like, “can you imagine your client coming up to you and saying, ‘I want to write this story told from the perspective of a chimpanzee?’” And Lee (Stobby) said, “Isaac, go write it!” because if I tell you not to, it’s going to nag at you until you do. And so that’s where you hone your craft, in telling those stories you need to tell.
Final Draft: Along the lines of writers honing their craft, what else can writers be doing to get ahead? What is your advice for those writers who are not signed yet but are entering contests and seeking representation?
Daniela: Oh I would say definitely reading. If you write horror, there’s The Bloodlist – it’s The Black List of horror. You can look at The Black List. Some people say read all the scripts and I say read the scripts that make sense for the genre you want to write. If there’s a script that interests you, the beauty of this era is you can email someone or find a resource or a forum that can give you the script that you’re looking to find. If you don’t have a network, build that network. And if you’re not based in L.A. there are still plenty of resources available to find and access scripts because reading makes a good writer too.
Final Draft: What would you say to your next client, how would you suggest they get here?
Daniela: How would they get my attention? Well, anything that’s great will catch people’s attention, and then it spreads like wildfire. When I said earlier that I get referrals from people all the time, it’s already gone through the hardest test which is getting people’s attention, and specifically that they like it. So I’m always telling writers and directors, if you have the resources to make something that can live online, go for it! But in terms of trying to get representation, and maybe you don’t have those resources or that network, there are companies that accept unsolicited material, it’s kind of like going up to someone’s front door and knocking. It’s a very polite way of saying, “this is an idea and it’s the best one I have in my catalogue, here’s the logline. Would you be interested in reading it?” I get very turned off by people who say, “I have a huge catalogue, just tell me which one you want to read”. You have to be your own advocate, your own salesman. You have to decide what’s going to be the appetizer, in terms of getting people to want you and want to read you. You also have to be focused. It’s very hard to represent someone who wants to write everything and says that upfront. You can always write everything, you can pivot 45 degrees. My job is to create that kind of strategy if you want to go from action/comedy to horror. But the initial step is, “what’s your best sample?” It’s all about putting your best foot forward and making a very easy first impression.
Final Draft: I love thinking about writing samples in terms of food.
Daniela: Yeah, because sometimes there’s this huge buffet and I don’t know where to start. You have to tell me where to start. Even when you say, “all-you-can-eat”, I have to know what the best sampling is. That’s why they’re called samples. I can get overwhelmed because I have so much to read so it helps if I know that the writer knows what their best sample is.
Final Draft: What do you think writers should know about your job that they may not?
Daniela: I would say it’s about trusting. If you decide to sign with someone you should trust that they know how to do their job. That’s not necessarily something writers don’t know but it’s important. I’m calling a lot of people on your behalf and I’m trying to make a good impression on your behalf to get you in the room. So know that no one is twiddling their thumbs, if you’re signed with the right person. Don’t be impatient. Executives take time to read things so as a result I should let them. Because just like I don’t want writers barging down my door, I shouldn’t be doing that either, with the special exception every now and then.
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