DIFF Daily 2010

Dubai’s first film talent agency opens

Dec 19,2010 - 06:27 PM

The UAE’s first talent agency for film directors and actors, as well as other artists, was announced at DIFF this week, marking another step in the professionalisation of the regional industry.

Talent Casting Agency (TCA) is the brainchild of Saro Carlwig, a Los Angeles-born legal graduate with 15 years’ experience in the industry. Carlwig relocated to Dubai in 2007 and founded Globetrotter Productions here in 2008. Her partner in TCA is Abu Dhabi-based filmmaker Hamed Arsi.

‘We have all these festivals and commissions in the region now,’ says Carlwig, ‘but upcoming directors and actors don’t know where to go with a project except Imagenation. Someone like me can go around and [set up connections] and they can come in at the end and close the deal.’

TCA is online at http://www.tcame.com and has offices in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Qatar and aims to promote its clients in Hollywood and internationally as well as around the region. It already has a dozen Emirati and Lebanese actors on its books alongside directors including Nawaf Al-Janahi, Tony Fadel and Pierre Dawalibi. ‘I’ve been looking for something like this,’ Al-Janahi says. ‘You can’t keep doing everything yourself. It gives you time for the things you need to focus on.

TCA will also offer casting direction and training of new agents. ‘I don’t speak Arabic so we need to train students in PR, marketing or business affairs to become agents so they can help their own people,’ Carlwig says, arguing that her strengths lie overseas. ‘I’m really connected in the movie industry in Los Angeles and New York. My selling point is that I can take you to Hollywood and make you a star!’

In Hollywood, meanwhile, actors are increasingly helping themselves. Jonathan Ruggiero, at DIFF as part of the Getty Images team, is also the founder of ActorRated.com, a new website that allows actors to discuss the industry and rate services such as headshot photography and acting classes. Based in Los Angeles, it has around 5,000 members in LA and New York. ‘We’re trying to create a sense of community, where actors can come and spend time together without spending a ton of money,’ Ruggiero says. ‘There’s a lot of scams out there but this allows actors to recommend reputable services.’

ActorRated.com is free to join and has a blog as well as consumer recommendations. For US$50, members can buy a card offering discounts at hundreds of related businesses. Ruggiero hopes eventually to make money from these cards and advertising. He also plans to expand to Mumbai, Toronto, Vancouver and London – ‘anywhere where there’s a community of actors who want services they can trust recommended by other actors.’ In the future, he adds, this could include Dubai.

By Ben Walters

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