Since Kevin Iwashina left CAA in mid 2007, he's become a respected film sales agent in his own right ("Jiro Dreams of Sushi," "Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes," "Little Birds"), has logged a dozen producing credits, and, with partner Ross Dinerstein, oversees five companies that make up Preferred Content (City Room Creative for editing and production services; Preferred Film and TV, a partnership with John Schmidt's Content Media Corp.; digital media investment fund Preferred Ventures, and Killer Digital, a partnership with Killer Films to create content for digital platforms). "We're positioned as top sellers of indie content," he said. "Low-budget genre fare that's profitable."
However, Iwashina doesn't harbor any illusions as to the secret of his success. "Someone like me who doesn't have an inherent creative talent, it's going to be about my relationships," he said. Toward that end, he cites team-building business fable "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" as an inspiration and has become known for hosting an annual pre-Sundance party at his apartment. "The motivation for that event is, 'How do I connect people? How do I help people?' I'm a middle-class Asian gay kid from the Valley. I'm more interested in the marginal people than the mainstream ones."
While he's still very much a product of his CAA training -- at a party, you're more likely to see him taking a call than having a drink -- he said his biggest inspirations now are the creative entrepreneurs. "Glen Basner, Nick Meyer, Nicolas Chartier, Nathan Kahane -- they've been able to diversify and be entrepreneurial in the marketplace," he said. "It inspired me to think that you could have a life outside the agency."
Having the ability to leverage resources in-house. "It's something I learned at CAA: look at the assets in front of you," he said. "You shouldn't have to go outside the house."
Iwashina said Sundance gave him a headache this year. "In terms of the actual deals, it was a sobering reminder of the challenges of the marketplace," he said.
"Trying to identify movies and assemble packages that have breakout potential in the marketplace," Iwashina said. "That's much different than identifying good movies; we find good movies all the time."
Iwashina hopes he can "help grow and nurture people so they have their own identity in the marketplace." He singled out Christine D'Souza, who's now an agent at WME, as one colleague whose progress he takes pride in.