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Sundance 2013: The Top Junior Agents You Need to Know

Photo of Jay A. Fernandez By Jay A. Fernandez | Indiewire January 16, 2013 at 4:31PM

Who are the hardworking young agents training to become the next generation of key Sundance dealmakers?
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Alex Saks of ICM Partners
Alex Saks of ICM Partners

ALEX SAKS, ICM Partners

Age: 25

Education: Wake Forest University, History Major, Film Studies Minor

Career background: Before coming to ICM Partners, I was very fortunate to be able to work for and learn from Mark Gordon and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, which gave me a wealth of experience on the studio and independent side in both film and television. The possibility of learning how to sell, package and structure financing for films — a world that I had only watched Brian play in from the sidelines — was a path that intrigued me. After sitting down with Jessica Lacy, ICM Partners felt like a perfect fit. She has created such a supportive, collaborative and entrepreneurially minded environment that the opportunity was just too ripe to pass up.

Agency tenure: Seven months and counting.

Ambitions: To work with and foster the careers of talented filmmakers, writers and producers who are as passionate about making movies as I am. Career-wise, I have an entrepreneurial spirit, and I am lucky to work at an agency that supports and encourages that spirit; it was a big deciding factor in my move to the company. I hope to be able to carve out a niche for myself that adapts to the ever-changing nature of this business. In an effort to do so, I constantly surround myself with dissenting opinions and people who are smarter than me.

Filmmaking and filmmakers that inspire you: One of the benefits of working in a group like ours is that I can work with different filmmakers, writers, actors and producers in all different genres. My most recent experience at Automatik fostered a deep love of the horror, action and sci-fi genres. However, working on Marlon Wayans’ “A Haunted House” comedy was one of the most thrilling and beneficial experiences I’ve had in this business to date. In my mind, passion breeds success, and I’m excited to work with anyone whose enthusiasm rivals my own.

"Sinister," from Automatik Entertainment.
"Sinister," from Automatik Entertainment.
What you spend your time doing at Sundance: Meeting with financiers, distributors, filmmakers and producers, selling our films, hopefully watching some others, going to a party or two and definitely not sleeping. 

What young or new filmmakers could learn from you in a five-minute conversation on the street in Park City: What’s so amazing about our business right now is that a lot of the people that are really exciting are true do-it-yourself filmmakers. With that in mind, my recommendation to young up-and-comers is always going to be to go out and make something. At the end of the day, every young filmmaker should make things, a lot of things, and have something to show for all their unbridled passion and enthusiasm. Raise money from family and friends on Kickstarter or wherever, pull every favor and save your pennies. We, as agents, can be extremely helpful once filmmakers have done that. We can help find distribution. We can broker their next deal. I think the worst thing filmmakers can do is to get lost in the business of it all in the interest of getting an agent or figuring out the system. We, as agents, respond to the work. So go do the work.

Head of your departmentJessica Lacy

Best/most useful thing learned from those above you: As an agent, I have learned how to turn a no into a yes, and that both reading and having a point of view remain ever important. As a personwho also happens to be an agent, I have learned that it is okay to have a life and spend time with family and friends.

The keys to making the most of the junior position, from Jessica Lacy, head of international and independent film:“I can’t express strongly enough that one of the most important things any young agent can do is to read a lot of material. The most interesting voices, specifically for independent film, come out of having strong material. Having a sense of strong material and having a point of view is going to help you excel. The young agents that I’m training, what I look for is their ability to talk about the material in an intelligent way, both to me as well as to the filmmakers that we’re trying to package with for the project, and ultimately then to the financiers. At Sundance, they have to be talking with these emerging filmmakers, they have to be supporting their films, and going to their events and chatting them up. That’s the goal of us going up there is to sign these emerging filmmakers, either before or during the festival, and then also to get on board packaging and selling their next films. I want my young agents doing it all. I want them having those relationships with those filmmakers so that we can be working on that next Benh Zeitlin movie or that next Hannah Fidell movie.”

This article is related to: Sundance Film Festival, Festivals, Acquisitions, ICM Partners, WME, UTA, Preferred Content, Paradigm