Four film professionals have established an international talent agency to meet a growing demand for representation in the Bulgarian film industry, and they have plans to unite talent throughout Central and Eastern Europe.
American actors Todd Jensen and Jonas Talkington and Australian Nick Harvey established the International Artists Agency while working as actors in the film industry in Bulgaria. They found that after getting cast in a role, they had to negotiate their own pay and working conditions.
"This was unlike elsewhere in the world, where you get the role and your agent does the rest," said Harvey, who has appeared in 21 films and TV series, in an e-mail exchange with FNE.
The actors resolved the situation by deciding to manage each other. "Soon the other actors and production crew [members] were asking us to manage them as well," Harvey said, "and so IAA was born." Bulgarian composer Konstantin Markov joined as the fourth member of the group.
Each brings to the agency different skills. Having started his career in the theater, Harvey specialises in theater-to-film conversion technique for theatrically trained actors.
Todd trained in New York as an actor and has appeared in some 65 films and TV shows, including many at Nu Images which has purchased and is upgrading Sofia's Boyana Studios.
Talkington initially came to Bulgaria as a businessman and switched to acting, appearing in 35 films. He is currently a casting director. Markov, who toured Europe in the band "Tangra" and now owns Tangra Radio and a recording studio, runs IAA's commercial music division.
The ultimate goal of the International Artists Agency is to unite under one agency a talent pool of actors from across Eastern Europe, so that international producers have one-stop access to what is now a scattered and hard-to-access group.
"Our aim is to unify film services in Europe and to help young actors move into the industry, know what they are doing when they get there, and give them proper representation," Harvey said.
For example, the agency has combined resources in Bulgaria and Romania so that now each country has a pool of 70 actors to choose from, rather than 35 as before.
IAA also trains young actors from national academies in moving from theatre to film and provides voice coaching in English.
IAA is not interested - at least initially - in making lots of money.
"We don't charge our people for acting or coaching classes, photos, etc.," Harvey said. "And we are strictly 10% of what they make from the work we get them."