The youngest of the big five Hollywood talent agencies, Endeavor is a relative newcomer to the independent finance field. Though agents have, over the last decade, come to play an important role in getting non-studio films packaged, funded and distributed, Endeavor has only been exploring the area for a couple of years.
The recent naming of Graham Taylor as head of Endeavor Independent, however, signals that independent film and finance is now a growth area for the 12-year-old agency.
'It's a natural evolution to have the agency work with producers to help raise money, attach directors and actors and help arrange distribution,' says Taylor, himself a relatively youthful figure who was recruited by Endeavor in October 2004 'to build out this space'.
With clients including Martin Scorsese, Reese Witherspoon, Sacha Baron Cohen and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Endeavor, founded in 1995 by a group of former ICM agents, has a reputation as a hip and increasingly powerful presence on the fiercely competitive agency scene.
And like the agency itself, the Endeavor Independent department has its own take on things. 'Hopefully we do it differently,' says Taylor, 'in the same way the entire agency conducts its business differently.' While he professes 'a tremendous amount of respect' for his indie-oriented counterparts at other agencies and the way they operate, 'the difference here,' he suggests, 'is that this group is integrated into every single agent at this agency. That gives us a competitive advantage. My colleagues are always looking for ways to advance this business space.'
Completed projects on which Endeavor Independent has helped arrange financing include Inarritu's awards contender Babel and Rodrigo Garcia's Nine Lives. Upcoming films on which the department has worked include Inferno Distribution's The Good Night, with Penelope Cruz and Gwyneth Paltrow; The Battle In Seattle, from Insight Film Studios; and live-action 3D drama Sanctum, which James Cameron is producing for Rogue Pictures.
Endeavor Independent consults for companies including Capitol Films, Senator, Insomnia, Eleven Eleven and Silverwood Films, as well as private equity investors.
Taylor is especially keen to work on 'progressive' as well as traditional financing deals. 'I think we're progressive in making multi-partner and label deals,' he says, citing a recent arrangement that teams Mikkel Bondesen's US outfit Fuse Entertainment with European companies Pathe and Nordisk and a private equity investor on a slate of English-language genre films set to shoot in Scandinavia.
With its parent agency gaining stature - it recently lured veteran agent Robert Newman, whose clients include Baz Luhrmann, Guillermo del Toro and Mike Figgis, from ICM - Endeavor Independent is itself likely to grow this year with the addition of one or two more agents to the current team of Taylor and Mark Ankner.
The expanded department will operate in an environment in which, Taylor believes, investors are turning more to the independent sector. 'There's a lot of money out there for independent film,' says the Endeavor agent. 'Increasingly, investors don't want to hand their money over to the studio, they want to stay more involved in the process.'
Position: head of Endeavor Independent
Experience: consultant to producer Mike Fleiss (2003); president of production at Cindy Cowan Entertainment (2002); produced independent features Killing Emmett Young (2002) and A Better Way To Die (2000); ran LA's Ambassador Hotel as a film location for tycoon Donald Trump.