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Agents set up their own shops

Two below-the-line reps kick off new agencies

In the intensely competitive world of below-the-line agencies, two agents recently ankled their firms to start their own shingles, taking several clients with them.

Richard Caleel, who had been with Paradigm for a year, has left to start The Caleel Agency. He brought along a roster of d.p.’s like Russell Carpenter (“Killers”), Sergey Trofimov (“Mongol”) and Robert Fraisse (“Alpha Dog”) —- as well as producers like Marty Ewing (“Yes Man”), Mark Cooper (“The Other Boleyn Girl”) and Mark Allan (“A Good Year”).

Shawn Burns, who worked for 10 years at Marsh, Best, has started Rocket Science Talent. She made a quiet move six months ago but waited until Jan. 20 to formally announce her effects-centric client list. It includes vfx supervisors such as Angus Bickerton (“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”), Boyd Shermis (“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”) and Michael Owens (Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter”) – as well as D.I colorist Michael Hatzer, who was recently snagged by Technicolor from EFilm.

When he first joined Paradigm, Caleel took along clients he had developed over six years at his previous agency, Dattner Dispoto. “We were going to see how the fit worked out,” he says. “We tried to find a way to make it work… (but) I’m more effective focusing on a smaller group of clients… plus I want to pay more attention to the international community.” Caleel’s roster has an overseas tilt.

Burns says she’ll be “always be grateful” to Marsh, Best, which gave her the opportunity “to create my own vfx department, and it just exploded… with vfx playing a growing role in movies” She adds that while her departure may have been painful for Marsh, Best, she decided to form her own company because “I have my own ideas in representation.”

Both moves surprise Mirisch Agency’s Larry Mirisch. “In this climate, it’s a difficult time to start a business,” he says, adding that just setting up a shingle and announcing clients is no guarantee of success: “You can take names on a list, or you can take people who have real credits, who are in the swim of the game.”

Dattner Dispoto’s Fay Dattner agrees that the timing is bad because “people are consolidating rather than splintering… but maybe these are financially desperate times and that’s what people feel they need to do.”

Good timing or bad, Montana Artists’ Matt Birch points out that agents don’t necessarily have a choice when they make such moves. “You can’t always plan the timing. You either go for it or you don’t,” he says. “But the playing field has changed so much that (these new agents) can probably do well.”

Marsh, Best would not comment about Burns’ departure and its impact on the agency. In a brief email, Paradigm’s Frank Balkin said, “We wish Richard the very best in his new venture.”

BOOKINGS & SIGNINGS

Now booked through The Caleel Agency: d.p.’s Simon Duggan on Gary McKendry’s “The Killer Elite,” Russell Carpenter on Nicole Kassell’s “Earthbound” and Angus Hudson on Niall Johnson’s “The Stolen”; producers Michael Fottrell on “Fast and Furious 5,” Kevan Van Thomson on Ralph Fiennes’ “Coriolanus” and Mark Cooper on Ellen Perry’s “Will.”

Paradigm signings: production designers Daniel Novotny (“CSI”), Eric Weiler (“Dexter”), Matthew Davies (“Casino Jack”), and costume designer Michelle Matland (“Last Days”). Paradigm TV bookings: editors Kevin Ross on TBS’ “My Boys” and Angela Catanzaro on NBC’s “Parenthood.” Film bookings: d.p. Mark Irwin on Hyung-rae Shim’s “The Last Godfather” and costume designer Jill Newell on Lance Daly’s “The Good Doctor.”

Mirisch Agency signed production designer Paul Austerberry (“Twilight: Eclipse”) and editor Kathy Himoff (“Appaloosa”). Mirisch bookings: production designer Sean Haworth on Matthijs van Heijningen’s “The Thing,” editor Tim Streeto on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and costume designer Mandi Line on ABC Family’s “10 Things I Hate About You.”

Marsh, Best signings: costume designer Doug Hall (“Crazy Heart”); d.p.’s Florian Hoffmeister (AMC’s “The Prisoner”) and Adam Arkapaw (“Animal Kingdom”), and production designer James Merifield (“Brighton Rock”). Marsh Best bookings: producers Ed Cathell on Patrick Lussier’s “Drive Angry” and Iain Smith on Ben Stiller’s “Help Me Spread Goodness”; costume designers Catherine Thomas on Antoine Fuqua’s “Prisoners” and Renée April on Duncan Jones’ “Source Code”; 1st A.D. Steve Andrews on Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s “The Tourist”; vfx supervisor Helena Packer on Mitch Glazer’s “Passion Play”; and production designer Carol Spier on Jim Sheridan’s “Dream House.”

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