Like many Canadians in Los Angeles, Marc Hamou left his native land because the opportunities in the US entertainment industry were too rich to ignore. But in this case, Hamou is a talent manager, and many of his clients are Canadians, including actors Jay Baruchel and Michael Cera - that is, Canadians whose success in Los Angeles made the move a compelling option for their manager. Baruchel, whose credits include Knocked Up and Tropic Thunder, has recently signed to star opposite Nicolas Cage in Jerry Bruckheimer's The Sorcerer's Apprentice; and Cera, of Juno and Superbad fame, is now a name big enough to see a picture greenlit.
"I had been going back and forth (between Los Angeles and Montreal) for years," says Hamou, "flying down every six or seven weeks." But he could not help giving himself the same advice he gives clients. He could stay in Montreal and maintain a comfortable living but "there would always be a ceiling. If you want to take your career to the next level, you've got to make the move."
In hindsight, the writing was on the wall in Montreal in the 1990s. Hamou started as a volunteer with the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in 1994. He met manager William Mercer, who then represented a number of comedians who appeared at the event. Attracted by the management remit, he joined Mercer's firm Mercer Rozon and started to scout for talent.
By accident or design, Hamou and his colleagues hit on a model for creating new business opportunities. Montreal was enjoying a boom in US-financed service production and "we opened up an agency division in Montreal just to get clients working on some of those movies.
"We would get them working on film and TV projects in Montreal and then, when they were ready to move to Los Angeles, we would represent them there as managers."
In 2006, Mercer's Rozon Management Group merged with Los Angeles-based management firm Thruline Entertainment. Thanks to the Thruline affiliation, Hamou was eligible for the same L1 visa his talented clients use and he moved to Los Angeles in May 2007.
"I had established relationships and knew the city really well and a lot of people. So it wasn't starting from scratch," he recalls. In fact, given modern communications, some of his Los Angeles-based contacts had not even realised he was previously based away from the city.
But Hamou's new world does not stop at Los Angeles, nor has he severed his Canadian connections. He represents Quebecois talents such as actor-director Luc Picard and actor Marc-Andre Grondin, who is now making a name for himself in France after recent productions such as The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life.
Indeed, Hamou now works the Atlantic in both directions. He signed up one of France's top comedians, Gad Elmaleh, star of films such as The Valet and the upcoming Warner Bros-backed Coco Chanel biopic, Coco. No doubt Elmaleh will soon be looking for a Los Angeles pied-a-terre.