Wendi Niad is the founder of Niad Management. Niad Management counts among its clients actors, screenwriters and novelists. Ms. Niad also teaches a course on screenwriters at UCLA.
Justin Samuels: How did you first become a manager?
Wendi Niad: With the help and support of a lot of people! I just did not like who I had become as an agent. There was much more of a maternal, nurturing side to me that I knew would be better put to use and better served and appreciated as a manager. So in 1997, I jumped ship and never looked back.
JS: Did you start out representing actors first, or writers?
WN: Writers and directors.
JS: How should an actor go about getting a manager? What exactly do you do for actors?
WN: Network! That is so key! I couldn’t tell you what, exactly, I do for actors, because each one requires different things at different times. I do whatever needs to be done to get the job done to get them to the next level within the parameters of the law.
JS: What are some ways for screenwriters to break into the industry?
WN: Don’t be afraid to have your work read! The more people who read you and talk about you, the more well-known you will become. People become too paranoid about “stealing” material. The key is really networking and having people like your work. If people like your work, they will talk about you and recommend you.
JS: How do you find your writers? Do they query you, do you approach people who have made names for themselves or are they referred to you?
WN: Anywhere and everywhere. Yes, they query, but I rarely ask for a script unless the query really piques my interest. I just read a lot!
JS: What sorts of scripts do you look for?
WN: Quality. Page-turning quality.
JS: For screenwriters, do you just find work for them in film, or do you find other kinds of work for them like television, animation and video games?
WN: Anywhere you can get it… and always in conjunction with an agent.
JS: How should someone interested in being a writer learn how to write?
WN: Learning the technicalities of writing is the easiest part. There are books galore on that subject. Having the talent for the dialogue and story-flow is where the practice and talent show through, and that takes work and practice, practice, practice… and there is no other way to do that than to write, write, and then write some more!
JS: Can you name some of the projects your clients have recently completed, either as actors, screenwriters or novelists?
WN: I sold Ender’s Game, coming out in November. Haley Ramm is currently starring in Disconnect with Jason Bateman and will be seen on ABC Family in a show called Chasing Life in January. Writer/Director Jennifer McGowan begins shooting her feature film Kelly & Cal at the end of this month with Juliette Lewis, and we are out to the male leads now. Writer/Producer/Director Lee Zlotoff’s franchise MacGyver is at New Line in Pre production as a feature film.
JS: Networking is extremely important to screenwriters. For those just starting out, what are some good ways to network?
WN: Always get out! Go out, be amongst fellow writers, assistants at agencies, assistants at production companies, Facebook friends, social networking-but don’t stay in the house. Actually get out and socialize. Get to know people. The more people you know in this town, the better your chances are. It’s a numbers game as well as your talent.
JS: Do you have pay attention to things like film festivals, screenwriting contests and screenwriting labs? You mentioned it being important to sort of build up a writer’s name.
WN: Yes. If it’s a well-known, good-quality contest, then go for it.
JS: Does having a name or success in other medium, such as being an author, online web series creator, playwright or blogger, give one a boost in one’s screenwriting efforts?
WN: It helps in that it shows that you are prolific, but if you want to make it in a certain area, then [it’s] best to stick to that area.