What makes a good agent? Guy Kochlani founded Across the Board Talent Agency because he knew the answer and his bosses at other firms wouldn’t listen. Todd Eskin joined Kochlani in 2012 and almost immediately expanded their reach into the theater world.
How did you get into the field?
Guy Kochlani: When I was 15 years old, my friend got me into a feature film. He’s now a client of ours. After high school, I acted for fun but decided to concentrate on the business aspect. After law school, I worked at an entertainment law firm and I decided to open my own agency.
Todd Eskin: I have a background in performing as well. I went to college for theater and transitioned over to the other side of the world. I landed in the Abrams Artists Agency training program and on the management side of things.
Do you think your background in performance helps?
GK: I think so, but I concentrate more on my life experiences other than acting; more of the business and common sense side. I want clients to have a game plan whenever possible. When a client signs us, they have to give us a quarterly goal and a yearly goal that we can accomplish. It can be to get new headshots, run a marathon, book a commercial. I need my clients to have a goal. We want to know what we’re cheering at our Christmas party. That’s really one thing that pushes me. I try to motivate the clients to have a goal. Once you have a goal you have something to work up for.
What should actors look for when it comes to finding a talent agent?
TE: You have to find someone you are really comfortable with. It’s a very personal relationship. When I worked as a manager, my issue was that I felt a disconnect with clients. But we’re not those people clients are afraid to call or ask questions. At the end of the day, all agents get the same breakdown. The hustle is important, but the relationship a client has with his or her reps is incredibly important.
GK: We look at this as getting married to the client. Some marriages work and some don’t. You go in fully in love and committed and unfortunately, some marriages end, others last for a lifetime. Communication is a key factor. When you have 10, 15 clients, you can take your clients to dinner once a month. You can’t do that with 500 clients. You can text us, email us, call us. We just ask you be reasonable, but if it’s an emergency, we’re here 24/7. Todd takes clients around the clock.
TE: I’m very tired.
What type of personality makes a good agent?
GK: You have to be driven. You’re working against the stream. You have to have thick skin. You have to really understand how to sell and push your clients.