Lessons from a 20 Year Hollywood Partnership | Brian Medavoy

Lessons from a 20 Year Hollywood Partnership

The other day I came across a 1998 LA Times Magazine article which featured a profile of myself and my future partner Erwin More as part of their “Hollywood Now” issue.

Hollywood Now

Hollywood Now

I couldn’t believe my eyes and, instantly, two thoughts came to mind:

Hollywood seems like such a different place now.

And then, ironically:

Actually, it’s not that different at all.

Back then, management wasn’t much of a thing, but we saw a major opportunity. Agents were focused more on the money, keeping clients employed and pushing that quote up higher, while the management side offered so much more room for creativity and, literally, creation.

Erwin has a great quote in that article: “It’s not brain surgery. It’s coming up with creative ways to help someone’s career.”

That summed up our attitude on the industry — and perhaps our slight naivete.

When we started there were only five management companies — you had to convince the artists what a manager did since everyone thought they were only for rock stars.

Guys like Bernie Brillstein, Benny Medina and Shep Gordon were leading the charge of creative managers who found the means to spearhead ideas from conception all the way through post-production, and we considered ourselves in that jack-of-all-trades mold. (We still do, of course.) We’ve got eyes for talent and ideas, which was crucial to building our business in those early days, but after much success, we went our separate ways for a few years. It wasn’t until 2014 that we came back together to form More/Medavoy and embarked on this current chapter of our partnership.

But we’ve had to do so in a completely different Hollywood landscape, competing with 500,000 management companies.

When we relaunched, we were (and are!) swimming in an ocean of content producers, mediums, channels, and talent as opposed to a small lake. Today, with the existence of YouTube, there are virtually no barriers to entry. Today, you don’t make a terrible movie and watch your career bomb. Every great actor seems to make at least one bad movie a year, honestly.

It’s a new world. Or is it?

After the merger, we quickly discovered the keys to success in this town actually haven’t changed at all. The game is the same.

Great content, like great talent, rises to the top, and when you work with the right people and get excited about the product you put out, people tend to invest in you.

We’ve actually found there is even more opportunity to experiment and get creative for our clients, and with the amount of money being tossed around, there’s an incentive to take greater risks and pursue the projects we’re most passionate about.

We, like all the fish in this sea, must aspire to the highest standard we can.

Television has never been better or a more attractive medium for A-list talent, and it’s never represented a more exciting gateway for emerging talent.

That’s an awesome thing for audiences, actors, and reps alike.

The reason we’ve managed to succeed once again is because things haven’t changed all that much over the past two decades — not even our logo……

MoreMedavoy 1989 Logo
MoreMedavoy 1990 Logo
MoreMedavoy Logo

We’ve combined our enthusiasm for the new, with the value of our experience.

Two things are definitely constant and remain the same: It’s still a relationship business built on trust and it the end of the day you still have to do the work. We call everybody, we lunch with everybody, we keep a nice office space, we follow up constantly. This has always been standard stuff. But simultaneously we’ve taken advantage of the industry’s lowered barrier to entry to create more opportunities than ever before for the people who have chosen us to represent them.

I love Kevin Huvane’s quote in WWD: “If you do great work, the money flows but if your eye is always on the bottom line, you miss the artist.”

At the end of the day, that’s what this industry is about. Building relationships and paying attention to the art.

Always has been, and always will be. And the endurance of our partnership is the proof.