Roy Ashton, The Gersh Agency’s Head of TV Literary & Packaging, wants to tap into Latin America’s plethora of creative talent. Ashton will explain exactly how in a shared keynote at MIP Cancun. Here’s a heads-up of what to expect!
MIPBlog: What’s going to be your unique approach to Latin America?
Roy Ashton: In the US, managers and lawyers help creatives get noticed by agents. But Latin America is different. Creatives don’t have that support system. The mechanism we are setting in place is specific to this region. I am excited to talk about it in detail at MIP Cancun.
We want to give creatives direct access to our agents. Up to now, talent agencies didn’t accept unsolicited projects. It’s time we adapt ourselves to access the tremendous talent the region has to offer.
> Why do writers, producers and directors need talent agents?
We are coaches and information-gatherers. We know what each broadcaster, pay TV network and OTT platform is looking to produce in the US and around the globe at all times. Our job is to sell projects and people – directors, writers, producers and actors. We are partners to creatives, not their bosses. We orient them so they can succeed.
> What expertise do you bring to the table?
Platforms rely on us to bring them a project they’d want to buy. We then package it with the right mix of talent and structure the deal. Gersh has built its reputation over the course of fifty years doing precisely this. We are unique relative to other talent agencies in that we are client-centric. Once we bet on a creative, we stand by them through the highs and lows of their career. We respect creative talent. Without a good story, there would nothing to put on air.
> What do you hope to achieve at MIP Cancun?
I’ve been once before and loved the experience. I am excited about this year’s one-to-one meetings offering. MIP Cancun is scheduling all of my meetings. It will be the best use of my time. I like this brass-tacks approach to doing business. I expect to meet with producers, writers, broadcasters and Pay TV networks from the region. We don’t want to miss any opportunities at this market. The next global hit can come from anywhere in the world. It would be great to find the next big thing in Latin America.
I want to mine talent, projects and ideas. I also want to figure out how we can do more partnerships with broadcasters, panregional networks and OTT platforms in the region. Shows nowadays tend to be global co-productions: Narcos would be a good example of that.
> What type of projects are you looking for from Latin America?
I’m looking for stories with global appeal that only Latin American talent could tell in a very compelling way. I’ve yet to see a great border story made for TV. There was No Country for Old Men, a film by the Cohen brothers, but I’d love to watch a border story every week on TV. Mexico and the US share a border. We are neighbours. Let’s capitalise on this and find a way to tell a great story about it. The Cuban embargo is another example. That’s a story the whole world can relate to. Baseball and the Dominican Republic, there’s another story there. You get the idea!
> Tell us about a couple of projects you’ve packaged…
The Tick, Jean Claude Van Johnson, as well as Catastrophe, that’s three for Amazon; Counterpart for Starz; and Good Omens for the BBC.
> What should creatives have ready before they meet with you at MIP Cancun?
Have a plan, a story to talk about, be aggressive and do your homework.
> Any other words of advice you’d like to share before we wrap up?
“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” Bob Evans said that, not me, but it’s worked pretty well for me, so I’ll go with that.