Daniela Gonzalez, Manager At Circle Of Confusion On Screenwriters Landing Representation
Daniela Gonzalez is a literary manager at Circle of Confusion, a feature film & television production and management company. She identifies as a TCI – a third culture individual: Venezuelan-born, with a childhood in South East Asia, Daniela’s found her roots in the United States. Her international background informs her taste as she builds her roster of clients who have unique voices and backgrounds. Creative Screenwriting Magazine asked her to share her insights into the business.
How does a screenwriter become someone you want to work with?
The screenwriters I am most excited to work with are those who have clear convictions of what they want to do with their career and understand that they wield a creative tool that requires focus and care. I usually look for them to be prepared with ambitions for the future, with knowledge of the industry’s projected trajectory, and with a willingness to calibrate and strategize on their career ahead. I want to know that we’re going to work together towards their goals and that it will be a long-term professional relationship.
How do you decide which screenwriters to represent?
I love to work with writers who write in all media who have ambitions to write for film and television. Before meeting with a potential client, I like to read a few pieces of material to get a sense of their voice. I often like getting referrals from trusted industry professionals who are already fans of the writers. I judge contests and will respond strongly to writers who have a strong voice. It’s not just about telling a great story on the page, but that the script (whether a feature-length screenplay or teleplay) can invite readers into a conversation about who the writer is and what their perspective is — that unique perspective is what excites me about a potential client.
What does a healthy manager client relationship look like?
Communication is key. It’s important to set expectations from the beginning: what will the manager need in order to help the client meet their goals, how can the client help themselves throughout the process, and other necessary benchmarks. Keeping each other tuned into the ebbs and flows of that process yields the healthiest representative/client relationship.
What should writers be doing outside meetings with you?
Writers are always going to be their strongest advocate. They should not only be writing, but they should be educating themselves on the happenings of the industry by reading the trades, they should be reading every and any script they can get their hands on (using their reps as a resource to access those materials), they should be doing heavy networking.
What most attracts you to a project?
I am always attracted to the projects that are unexpected – that is a combination of the idea and the writing. The marketability comes after the fact, but I don’t want to chase trends or try to plug things in just because. I want to feel invested in their uniqueness.
How much time do you spend developing a writer?
I will only feel comfortable pushing a piece of material if we’ve developed it to get it into the best place possible. Developing a writer and having them have a strong piece of material and a clear path to success will position them for success, so they can be properly prepared for what’s to come.
What is the typical lifespan of a manager-client relationship?
The idea upon signing is that the relationship between a client and their relationship should exist for the duration of their career. Representatives want to be with their clients as they are building them towards their success and see them through that success.
How would you describe your current film and TV tastes?
My personal taste is very eclectic. I love independently produced films that illuminate the human condition, I love huge blockbuster films, I love animated films and am open to watching anything and everything. The same goes for television. I recently started watching Killing Eve, which I think is brilliant; I also enjoy broadcast dramas like This Is Us and premium cable shows in the vein of Insecure and SMILF. I recommend my clients watch shows in the genres they aspire to write in, to educate themselves on the form.
I also recommend that they watch shows they know they would never enjoy, just to identify why this may appeal to another demographic.
What is the current state of the industry and how can screenwriters best position themselves to be part of it?
The reality of our industry is that the way screenwriters are getting discovered and finding opportunities is by showcasing their voice and perspective. There are few opportunities that require screenwriters to spec episodes of existing shows, and I believe that shift demonstrates the industry’s hunger for original pieces of material. My recommendation for writers is to continue to focus on their perspective, how to infuse that into their story, and steer clear of anything formulaic or derivative.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions aspiring screenwriters have about having a viable screenwriting career?
Writers often believe the phrase, “OVERNIGHT SUCCESS”. In reality, it takes 10 years to build an overnight success, and that comes through hard work, resilience, and perseverance. The word passion comes from the Latin root suffering, so often I remind writers that if they are doing what they love, it may come at a cost.
Where do find new writer clients?
I find clients through referrals, by judging contests and through networking. When it comes to queries and cold calls, I only will respond to them when they are personalized and the person reaching out to me is choosing me as a potential representative because of what I can offer them as a partner.
What makes you stop reading a screenplay submission?
I’ll stop reading a script if the story feels too familiar. Sometimes that comes by way of the concept being tried several times, or if someone is trying to chase a success in the hopes that their script will ride the coattails of the other success. Typos can be very distracting as well.
How can a screenwriter stay vibrant and relevant in the marketplace?
Screenwriters should try to find a network of writers and industry professionals whom they trust. Attending writers conferences or participating in networking events and being constantly present will show representatives that the screenwriter is taking an active role in making themselves known.
Any closing thoughts for our readers?
In the pursuit of representation, I would like writers to know that it’s best to find the right fit and trust your instincts on how the representative will work with you to build your career. It saddens me to hear from writers where they’ve had bad experiences because they signed with someone just to have representation, rather than sign with them because of the value they added on to their screenwriting career.
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