Magazine article Variety

Agencies Shop a World of Talent

Magazine article Variety

Agencies Shop a World of Talent

Article excerpt

With the international landscape taking on a greater role at the box office and beyond, top talent agencies are making a concerted effort to zero in on the next crop of new talent - no matter where in the world it is.

An example is Korea, where three helmers are traveling Stateside to make their domestic directing debuts in 2013.

Park Chan-wook, represented by WME, and Bong Joon-ho and Kim Jee-woon, both repped by CAA, already are icons in their native country. Kims Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle "The Last Stand" opened over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend to better than $7 million for Lionsgate, placing it in the top 10. Park's "Stoker," a kinky thriller starring Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode and Nicole Kidman, which Fox Searchlight just picked up out of Sundance, opens in March; and Bong's sci-fi thriller "Snowpiercer," starring Chris Evans, John Hurt and Jamie Bell, bows this summer via the Weinstein Co.

CAA agent Spencer Baumgarten says what has made these directors so appealing is their willingness to push the envelope.

"What stands out is their boldness, which is evident by the risks they are taking onscreen," Baumgarten says. "You can't define them by any one genre."

While the Asian market, and specifically Korea, is hot right now, agencies, driven by the success of Scandinavian films, recently have been targeting talent like UTA-repped director Daniel Espinosa and thesp Joel Kinnaman ("Easy Money," "Safe House"), WME-repped helmer Baltasar Kormakur ("101 Reykjavik," "Contraband") and Magnolia Entertainment-repped actress Noomi Rapace ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo").

The worldwide battle for talent has grown to the point where agents are bringing translators with them on scouting trips, and agencies are looking to set up offices in foreign markets. CAA, for instance, has an office in China, where helmer Zhang Yimou is a client.

Some say it's harder for budding talent to make the leap from culturally restrictive nations like China, however, because they have to follow an established path in order to make a name for themselves.

But UTA agent David Flynn sees few absolutes in the talent game.

"Territories that have a rich filmmaking culture tend to develop the most new talent," he says, "but there are plenty of exceptions to that rule."

International festivals have always been a good place to look for talent. …

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