For someone who had no desire to be a Hollywood agent — she thought it was the least exciting field in town — Nicole Clemens has lately made the kind of splash many agents can only dream of.
Clemens, the head of ICM’s motion picture literary department, is the whirlwind force behind a flurry of deals currently in development or production, many of them the result of her trademark penchant for vaulting talent from one field to another. In most cases — did someone say he wanted to direct? — Clemens makes feature helmers out of screenwriters, cinematographers and TV multi-hyphenates.
“In a global environment, everyone has to be willing to expand their repertoire,” says Clemens, who was in development and production before becoming an agent. Clemens’ idea of making things happen is to “allow people to move back and forth” between their strengths.
She did so with Oscar-nominated scribe Jose Rivera (“Motorcycle Diaries”) whose adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s beat classic “On the Road” is being shot by Walter Salles. In January, in a deal struck by Clemens, Rivera will begin directing his first feature, “Celestina,” based on his own play, “Cloud Tectonics.”
Clemens pulled off a similar trick with Jason Winer, who in August picked up an Emmy as exec producer of “Modern Family.” The day he learned of the nomination was also his first day as a film director, when Winer was top dog on the set of the “Arthur” remake.
And she expects to hammer out directing deals soon for two other clients, thrice-Oscar-nominated cinematographer Wally Pfister (“The Dark Knight”) and Kurt Sutter, creator and executive producer on “Sons of Anarchy.”
“The common denominator has to be absolute commitment to being the general,” she says, “to be willing to command this huge army.”