Hollywood Talent Agency Hunts for Online Video Talent

The New York Times reports that United Talent Agency has started a new unit that will search for Internet talent with a heavy focus on video.
The move by the United Talent Agency - best known as the home of comedians like Vince Vaughn and Jack Black, filmmakers like M. Night Shyamalan and television producers like Dick Wolf and David Chase - amounts to a bet, albeit a modest one, that Web video is on a growth curve similar to that of cable television a generation ago. It is also a return by Hollywood’s core talent representatives to the sort of new-media business they tested, without great success, at the peak of the dot-com boom.

The goal this time around, executives say, is not only to recruit the next generation of television and film writers and directors from the relative obscurity of sites like YouTube and Revver. It is also to help the major Web portals that are hungry for original content to find the creative people they need — just as movie studios have long turned to talent agencies when looking for new directors, screenwriters and actors.
The new unit is small -- just three agents and an assistant -- but they have already cut six figure deals and signed clients according to the Times article.
Already, the three agents have cut six-figure deals with major media portals and signed a handful of clients whose Web-based serials, recurring comedy features and short digital films have drawn one-time downloads in the millions and regular watchers, in some cases, in the tens of thousands.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Weinstein said, one of his new agents showed him a Web video that had been up for less than an hour: "Paxilback," a parody of a Justin Timberlake music video, "Sexyback." The agents quickly reached out to its creators, a group of Los Angeles artists called People Food. By the time they could arrange a meeting five days later, the video had been seen 600,000 times.
You can see the Paxilback video here. The new talent team will have plenty of videos to sift through in their search for talent.

Posted on October 25, 2006

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