Chapter 38 – Two-way selection
Andy left, the whole conversation seemed a bit aimless and confusing, as if there was no purpose, making it hard to understand.
In fact, Andy only came to Pioneer Village today on a whim, to get a preliminary understanding of the situation. He didn’t even do any research beforehand, and if he hadn’t met Renly, he wouldn’t have any regrets. He planned to sit in the bar and have a glass of whiskey before heading to the airport. If they did meet, he intended to see the real person and compare the image in his mind with reality.
After all, the current Renly is only someone he heard about in the rumors. “The Pacific” has not yet aired, and the media reputation, audience feedback, performance strength, etc. are all yet to be evaluated. There is no need to jump to conclusions in haste. Of course, if an agent gets amazed at the first meeting, signing a management contract on the spot is also possible.
The results of their first meeting exceeded expectations by far.
This young person, only twenty years old, exhibited a composure and wisdom beyond his age, remaining calm and confident, with clear goals and unyielding determination. He appears to be an impractical idealist on the surface, but in reality, he has a clear understanding of the future, even possessing great ambition.
Andy knew that Renly was not the type to be easily manipulated. Working with someone with such a distinct personality was bound to have its challenges. But this was a double-edged sword that could forge a legend or lead to ruin. The key was how much strength Renly possessed, and whether he had an accurate assessment of his own talent and understood the difference between confidence and arrogance.
Andy believed that when it came to defining Renly, he could only be either a superstar or a flop; there was little room for a vague middle ground. Therefore, he would not come to a hasty conclusion and needed time to evaluate while also examining more information. “The Pacific” was undoubtedly the best platform for this, not only because of the show itself but also because Renly’s performance in the promotion of the show would serve as Andy’s basis for judgment.
Of course, Andy had also considered the possibility of other agents getting ahead of him while he waited to observe. However, Andy believed that Renly was not someone who would compromise easily. Just like how he issued the invitation today, Renly would not nod his head so easily, as Renly also needed time to evaluate him. If Renly recognized his ability, then the result would be the same whether he invited him today or a year later. If Renly rejected him, it would not change the outcome whether he invited him now or later.
This is the reason why Andy chose to leave. He did not further mention his work as an agent, nor did he mention the matter of signing a cooperation contract with Renly. He didn’t even mention his purpose for coming here today. He inexplicably appeared and suddenly left. Andy believed that Renly was a smart person and that he understood his intentions.
Indeed, Renly understood, even though it was not explicitly stated, the clues were enough for him to deduce Andy’s intentions.
Similarly, Renly wasn’t in rush to make a decision. Like the several talent agents who had shown interest in him before, he decided to observe and wait. It was not because Renly was full of confidence and wanted to choose a more famous agent; rather, he knew clearly that when agents select artists, artists should also learn to choose their agents. It is a two-way selection process.
Strictly speaking, the relationship between an artist and a agent is an employment relationship – the artist hires the agent, and they are the buyers in the market.
In Renly’s view, the agent’s overall perspective and values regarding the artist’s career planning are more important than their abilities, resources, and network. In other words, a talent agent with a long-term vision, a broad perspective, and a sense of making trade-offs can make an artist more successful, while conversely, a talent agent who lacks these qualities can become a grave for the artist.
In general, the impact of a talent agent on an artist can be divided into three parts.
The first is the trade-offs of interests. The talent agent’s income comes from a percentage of the artist’s earnings, with the five major talent agencies in the industry charging a ten percent commission while other talent agencies charge eight percent. This means that the higher the artist’s earnings, the higher the agent’s income. Therefore, many agents will continually urge their artists to take on commercial films and may even sell out their artists for short-term gains.
Edward Norton is a typical example. At the time, he was very eager to participate in Paramount’s “The Score”. This work invited Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro, two big names in acting, so he was going to collaborate with these two big stars for the first time in his career. Edward was extremely excited. In the end, his agent reached an agreement with Paramount, and Edward was able to join “The Score” at the cost of agreeing to participate in another Paramount film in the future. Under the encouragement of his agent, Edward agreed.
The contract was honored a year later, and Edward starred in the commercial film “The Italian Job”, but he was very dissatisfied with the script, and after many unsuccessful communications with the director and screenwriter, he refused to star in the work. However, Paramount forced Edward to complete the filming as a requirement for fulfilling the contract.
After the filming was completed, Edward fired his agent, and the box office flopped.
Secondly, the agent’s eye for selecting works is also important. Generally speaking, all of an artist’s work choices come from the agent’s recommendations, as the artist’s sources of information are very limited. This means that the agent’s taste will determine the quality of the artist’s work.
Some people have wondered how Nicolas Cage became the king of bad movies. It all started with Nicolas desperately taking on film projects to pay off his gambling debts. However, the catalyst was his agent’s poor judgment in selecting scripts, which led to a string of disastrous films.
In addition to that, there is another situation where the artist expresses a desire to participate in a particular project, but the agent believes it might be a flop and recommends a different one instead. This is also a common occurrence in the industry.
One of the most famous examples is Sean Connery. At the turn of the century, he was very interested in fantasy stories, and both “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Matrix” caught his attention. However, his agent thought that both of these works were too difficult to understand and had a high risk of failure, so he advised Sean to give up on them and choose 20th Century Fox’s “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” instead. The outcome was clear in the end.
The last one is about crisis management, and the cooperation between agents and public relations teams, which has become an essential part of an artist’s image building.
Kristen Stewart is a typical example.
Coming from a low-budget independent film background, Kristen Stewart’s solid acting skills made people optimistic about her future. She rose to worldwide fame with the “Twilight” series. However, the fact is that the Hollywood Academy dislikes actors with an idol movie background. It is often said in the industry that if you star in an idol movie, you will be out of the running for an Oscar for the next ten years, which is one of the reasons why the development path of idol actors is becoming increasingly narrow, and they are very likely to be replaced by new rising stars. The popularity of “Twilight” brought Kristen exposure, but it also repeatedly hindered her in the independent film world, and her stiff acting skills were also criticized.
Afterwards, while filming “Snow White and the Huntsman,” Kristen Stewart had an affair with director Rupert Sanders. Not only did she betray her then-boyfriend Robert Pattinson, but Rupert was also married and had a family. This negative news almost completely ruined her career, causing her to fall into the depths of public criticism and it made her become a social outcast.
Afterwards, she changed her agent and less than a year later, she successfully starred in many works such as “Still Alice”, “Adventureland”, “Personal Shopper”, “Café Society”, and “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”. She even worked with many big names such as Ang Lee, Woody Allen, and Julianne Moore.
Despite the scandal, her career didn’t slide but instead continued to flourish and blossom. In contrast, the other protagonist of the cheating scandal, Rupert, didn’t receive any new projects for next three years. This difference in outcome highlights the importance of a good agent. Especially considering the fact that people are always harsher on women and more forgiving on men when faced with that kind of news, but this time the roles seems to be reversed, which shows the ability of her agent.
Of course, in addition to her agent, a competent public relations team also played a crucial role in Kristen’s comeback. But that’s a different story.
Just like how agents consider factors such as an artist’s talents, market value, image packaging, and potential for development when selecting them, artists must also consider various factors such as an agent’s business acumen, long-term vision, communication skills, and potential value when choosing an agent.
Leonardo DiCaprio changed five agents in just two years in order to work with Martin Scorsese. Nobody wants to change agents too frequently.
Of course, all of this is based on having a choice. Most newcomers do not have a choice and can only passively wait for agents to discover them and climb up step by step. However, Renly has an advantage that others do not have – reincarnation. He knows which works will be successful and which will flop. Even without the guidance of an agent, he can rely on his own efforts and networking to create a space for himself. Although, within the grand Hollywood framework, independent individuals may struggle without the help of an agent, at least Renly has other possibilities, which is why he is not in a hurry to settle for an agent.
Being selective is important, and the advantage of rebirth gives Renly the capital to do so.
In the brief encounter with Andy earlier, Renly had a preliminary impression of him. From beginning to end, Andy had a smile on his face, making him seem like a very easygoing agent. However, Renly could sense his calmness and wisdom in his words, but that was only the tip of the iceberg and not enough to see the full picture. Moreover, being able to become a senior agent at Creative Artists Agency, his ability cannot be underestimated.
He was scrutinizing the other party, but who’s to say that the other party wasn’t scrutinizing him as well? Renly believed that their next meeting wouldn’t be too far off.
“Who was that just now?” Neil asked casually as they walked towards the party after seeing Andy off.
“An old friend,” Renly smiled and replied, then he slung his arm over Neil’s shoulder and headed towards the dining table, exclaiming, “It’s party time!” Everyone chimed in with their own voices, welcoming Renly into the first wave of St. Patrick’s Day revelry.
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