- Insider spoke to a Hollywood talent manager about what it's like working as the coronavirus cripples the entertainment industry.
- The manager, who spoke to Insider anonymously (the person's identity is known by Insider and has been confirmed), opened up about the challenges to do his job from home.
- Along with caring for his 1-year-old child, he also has to keep in contact with his clients and continue to develop projects.
- He said that many studio executives are encouraging "virtual pitches."
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
In a time when there is complete uncertainty about pretty much everything due to the coronavirus pandemic, we are all trying to find some semblance of normalcy. But how do you do that if you work in an industry like the entertainment field, where building personal relationships and constantly interacting with people is essential to being effective at your job?
That's exactly what Insider asked when speaking to a prominent Los Angeles-based talent manager.
The person, who for this story wished to speak anonymously as it's against his company's policy to talk about such matters (the person's identity is known by Insider and has been confirmed), has a client list made up of award-winning writers and directors, and he's a producer of popular TV series and movies.
So, typically, he's a pretty busy guy. But due to the coronavirus, the production of movies and TV are at a standstill and his company, like most in the country, has made it mandatory for its staff to work from home. He and his wife must also now split their time between doing their jobs and caring for their 1-year-old child. Since speaking to the manager, the governor of California has issued a statewide stay-at-home order.
"If I can get back to work in a couple of weeks, it's just a blip," the manager said to Insider of the industry shutdown. "But if this goes on for two or three months, we're going to see big changes."
Encouraging clients to keep working
Typically, the day in the life of a manager, like many at the executive level in Hollywood, begins with getting on the phone. Checking in with clients. Firming up meetings. Keeping conversations going on projects in development. Getting updates on projects already in production.
The manager said some of that is still the same. But there are some real-world realities sprinkled in.
"I'm calling my clients every day and I'm reminding them of what's going on," he said. "And for the writers, I'm encouraging them to start writing their next story idea."
The manager said that the biggest thing he's driving home to his clients is to not be dormant: Keep the creative ideas coming because when things go back to normal, he will have things of theirs to pitch.
And he's still pitching now. With no one working, the silver lining is that big stars can't say they are too busy to read scripts.
"Right now actors are dying to read stuff," he said.
Pitching projects to executives through a webcam
A major goal for this manager, like many in his profession, is to package deals to studios and streamers with his talent attached. Often this means taking lunches or going out to the executives at their offices and pitching. There's an art to landing a deal, it's not just the strength of the idea but the passion and presentation that leads to a decision-maker saying "go" on a project.
A lot of that is out the window in today's climate, but he said all is not lost thanks to technology.
"Colleagues at my company have said that studios and networks want to do virtual pitches," he said. "So that's basically them saying, 'We're still open for business, we're still hearing pitches.' So a lot of us will start pitching in front of the cameras on our computers and phones. We can't be in the room, but they clearly still want to put things in development."
Dealing with an uncertain future
One word you hear a lot in Hollywood is "momentum." It's key to getting projects off the ground. And the manager said that's the biggest thing at the moment that has him concerned.
"It's all about the process to get to production," he said, as his child made noises in the background. "You have the script, you work on getting a star attached, you ride the momentum to a production commitment. None of that exists right now."
And he's worried what projects will still be a reality once everything goes back to normal.
"I have a big project in development at a streaming company," he said. "We have been working on it for a year to get the showrunner and now where is it going to wind up? When we get on the other side of this, people's minds could change. That's what makes me uneasy."
As his child begins to get more rambunctious we decide it's a good time to get off the phone. And taking a moment the manager tries to take things in perspective. That the main thing is he and his family are healthy.
"It's becoming more normal to hold the kid in one hand and take a call in the other," he said with a laugh.
More stories on how the coronavirus is affecting entertainment:
- Numerous movies playing in theaters are coming to Video On Demand early due to the coronavirus — and Hollywood insiders say more will follow
- 48 movies still coming to theaters in 2020, and titles that currently have no release dates because of the coronavirus
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