By MICHAEL FENDERMAN | 02/19/2017 05:18:57The Hollywood industry has long known that it’s all about the stars and the money, but that’s starting to change.
Now, with an aging population and rising costs, talent and their agency budgets are being squeezed more than ever.
The industry is now spending more than it did a decade ago on producing talent and more than a decade on securing that talent, a recent study by the Talent Agency Journal found.
And with the aging of the population, talent is more likely to be looking for a way out of the industry, rather than a way in.
“With more and more talent out of this industry, it’s more likely that you’re going to see more people leave,” says Jennifer A. Cohen, managing director of talent at agency The Creative Agency Group, which represents such stars as Ashton Kutcher, Ryan Reynolds, J.K. Simmons and others.
That’s because, as more of them age, their money is less likely to last them a lifetime, she says.
“The older you are, the more you have to rely on the agency for money.”
A growing number of actors, writers, directors and producers have moved on to independent projects or are working at smaller agencies, like talent-management firm KPMG.
The reason for this trend, according to Cohen, is the fact that agencies now have a better handle on their own budgets, which are being increasingly focused on finding and developing talent and securing the actors’ talent.
“They are more focused on the actors as opposed to their agency,” she says, adding that this has helped keep costs down.
But the agency industry is not alone in this change.
There are also some younger actors and actresses, such as Natalie Portman, who have started to look for a new career in Hollywood and have signed on with talent agencies, according for a report published last month by Talent Marketing Quarterly.
“We see more younger actors as they get older and we’re seeing that younger actors have the opportunity to be able to be creative and express themselves in a new way,” says Scott C. Smith, managing partner of Talent Marketing Group.
“But it’s a very small window to do that.”
The biggest challenge facing talent agencies is retaining the talent they do have, says Kevin L. Davenport, senior vice president of agency The Talent Agency Group.
They have to be more flexible with how much they are paying for talent and they have to give actors a little bit more leeway with how long they have.
“When you’re dealing with a company that’s constantly being asked to do more, you’re not getting a lot of creative and dynamic talent,” he says.
He points out that many actors have signed new deals with talent-services firms, which means the agencies can no longer make money from the talent.
But they can still use that talent in creative projects, like commercials or music videos.
“You’re not going to have that same level of flexibility,” he adds.
“It’s like saying to an artist, ‘We can’t do the movie you’re in because you’re an actor.’
That doesn’t make sense.”
Davenports says he’s seeing younger actors becoming more flexible and creative in their creative process, which is a big benefit to the agency.
“Younger actors are very open to taking risks and finding new opportunities,” he explains.
“There are more creative projects being made now that are going to benefit from that.
The agency will get the actors to take a risk.”