Rob Kraitt @ StoryDrive China, photo: C.Y.Schmidt

An Agent's View on his Business Environment

Interview with Rob Kraitt, Agent, Casarotto Ramsay & Associates, UK

By Maja Lennemann on June 21, 2012

Rob Kraitt is an agent at Casarotto Ramsay Associates Limited in London. He is a member of the team of the film and television department which represents film and television directors, writers, producers, estates and the film and television rights for a select number of books. He has wide ranging experience representing writing and directing talent and selling books for film & television adaptation.

Casarotto Ramsay & Associates was founded in 1989 and represents many of the best known writers and directors of film, theatre and television in the world.

On May 30th, day two of the StoryDrive China conference, he held a master class about Storyselling during which he introduced different ways of how to pitch a story.

After the event, Rob Kraitt answered some general questions about the business environment he works in as well as the changes he has seen in recent years and a what he expects to change in the near future.

What motivates you as an agent ?

At Casarotto we want to have clients of the highest quality. That’s what we are driven by. Also, we want really extraordinary material.  The focus of my job since I have been at Casarotto’s is to represent writers, screen writers and some directors. I do represent some books, which are to be turned into films or TV programmes. An agent’s motivation is always to earn money for their clients so that they can earn money themselves.

Apart from revenue and profit goals, what other goals are important for your company?

We want to develop our clients so that they are always working, that they are getting the best opportunities and assignments. We want to be always the first agency in the minds of producers and studios when they are looking for talent. And we want to make sure that the films and TV programs our writers and directors are making are distributed properly so that  people get to see them.

In a minute: What is your business model?

At Casarotto’s we have a number of agents and each agent has his or her own client list. Some specialize more with directors, but most have a mix. We work very closely together and meet once week a week to share the assignments that are coming in and discuss how we can best put our people in line for those assignments.

How important is international cooperation for your business? Increasing or decreasing?

We have very good connections with producers and studios in America and around the world. We hope that we have the right kind of contact base to maximize opportunities for our clients everywhere. We do work with American agents now and then and it can be quite valuable since it’s a quite complicated market over there. International opportunities are certainly increasing since international co productions are increasing.

How important is the cooperation with other industries like games or information and telecommunication technology?

Games not so much. It’s a very young industry and does not use agents in the same way film and television does. I think it will increase but at the moment it’s very much in the early days. Right now we are very focused on film and television.

How has your work changed over the past 5 years?

It has changed because it’s harder to sell books. There used to be a lot of money in Hollywood, about 10 years ago, they used to spend huge amounts of money to buy books that they never made into films. There are definitely less opportunities today. You have to work very hard now to sell books.  If you talk to studios they only go for very commercial ideas that would reach the largest possible audience. It`s more difficult now for literary books which I used to represent before. And the amount of money you can make out of book options is less.

Now recently, there was the case of “Fifty Shades of Grey” which is part one of a trilogy by E L James. It started as “fan fiction” using characters from “The Twilight Series” and is rather pornographic. The material became very popular on the internet especially with housewives. This book was a great sensation, Hollywood got wind of this and there was a big auction, in the end Universal bought the rights and paid millions… But that’s an exception.

Is your brand’s identity internally and externally clearly defined and well known?

Yes, definitely, it has been cultivated over many years. Casarotto has a strong brand identity of being a very high quality agency in terms of the talent we represent. We have a huge reputation in theatre, film and television. And if people look for the best possible talent to write their screenplay or their film they would come to us.

Who are your customers?

Producers, broadcasters, studios.

Do you know of what your customers expect from you?

They expect us to provide the right kind of talent and they expect us to honest and straightforward when it comes to negotiations and deals.

Who are your competitors?

Other agencies in London like Curtis Brown or Independent Talent. But the agents in London are more collaborative than in the US, it’s a gentleman’s business in the UK.

What kind of business you will operate in five years?

I think for us not much will change, since it will still be about who can provide content. TV shows will still be TV shows and films will be films. What may change is where they are shown or what kind of money they make, and maybe what we watch out for in the contracts may change, but at the end of the day you still need someone to write the story and someone to direct it and these are the people we can provide.

Thank you very much for the interview!