Feel The Ad Love! Podcast: “Call My Agent! The Inside Scoop on Talent Agencies”

Episode 1 –

Live from the Radio Lounge, M. Bruce Abbott and Ray Schilens sit down with Cindi Davis-Andress, Partner of Pastorini Bosby Talent in Houston.  We discuss the journey from becoming a represented talent, to turning it into a successful business.

Topics discussed include: the challenges that talent and agents face, opportunities on the horizon for talent, technology, and what it takes to get on an agency roster.  Cindi shares her insight and direction on how to do it right.  From radio to film and television, Cindi gives us the inside scoop on what to expect and how to grow in the voiceover and acting industry.  Pastorini-Bosby Talent has devoted a quarter of a century to honing their skills, and helping literally thousands of actors find their perfect part. Their website is www.pbtalent.com.

Ray Schilens is President/Co-Founder, and M. Bruce Abbott is Creative Director/Co-Founder of Radio Lounge – a sound design / audio production facility located in Houston, TX.  Radio Lounge provides audio for broadcast, commercial, elearning, podcasting, and…well…anything that needs sound!  Learn more at www.RadioLoungeUSA.com.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Bruce Abbott:                    Conversations are always good things. They help us tell others about the cool stuff that we do here at Radio Lounge and they’re a way to introduce you to the folks we work with. A key part of any successful production is the talent. And we are blessed to be connected to PBTalent as end users and as voice actors. Behind any great company are the people that make it great.

Bruce Abbott:                    Hi, this is Bruce Abbott, along with Ray Schilens here at the Radio Lounge today. We feel the ad love with Cindi Davis-Andress, partner of Pastorini-Bosby Talent. Glad you could join us.

Ray Schilens:                      Pastorini-Bosby Talent Agency of Houston Texas, and the headline reads, “Book the Best Talent. Over 25 years experience providing the most professional actors, professional voice-over talent, affordable makeup artists, celebrated keynote speakers, and well-known athletes for commercials, films, corporate educational videos and live appearances.” And at the center of all this is a very, very sweet lady named Cindi Davis-Andress, partner at PBTalent.

Ray Schilens:                      Cindi, we’ve been meaning to talk to you for a long time and it’s time to have that talk, Cindi. Okay?

Bruce Abbott:                    It’s time to have the talk.

Cindi Davis:                        I am honored to be on the phone with you guys.

Ray Schilens:                      Yeah, it really is exciting to share your experiences and, really, you are the person that provides the fuel for the creative to happen here, not only in Houston, but all over the world and to look at your talent roster and to look at the things that have happened with the agency over 25 years.

Ray Schilens:                      Now, Cindi, if I were a forensic person, I would find out more about your background here. Are you from the Houston area as well, Cindi?

Cindi Davis:                        I am, born and raised.

Ray Schilens:                      Wow, okay, so that’s a rarity. Course Bruce is too.

Bruce Abbott:                    Oh, there we go.

Ray Schilens:                      So we have some commonality here. I, in the meantime, am a gypsy who landed here a long time ago and finally stayed.

Ray Schilens:                      So growing up in Houston … So what brings Cindi into the talent business? How did you get where you are today?

Cindi Davis:                        Well, when I was young, I thought I wanted to be an actress. I somehow, by the grace of God, I guess, I went to HSPVA, here in town, so that was my first theater/acting side of my life. Soon after I got to that school, I figured out that I really sucked at this acting thing, but what I was really good at was stage management. I enjoyed being able to oversee the ins and outs and to make other people shine. It’s no surprise to anybody who’s known me for a long time that I ended up being an agent. And I came to work here in ’99 so I’ll be here 20 years next month.

Ray Schilens:                      Oh, really. Congratulations.

Cindi Davis:                        Thank you. And I have seen a lot of changes along the way. I started out at the front desk here, and stayed here and made a living.

Ray Schilens:                      This is a great market for talent, isn’t it, Cindi?

Cindi Davis:                        It’s a wonderfully unique market.

Ray Schilens:                      How do you mean that, unique?

Cindi Davis:                        I think that it’s very easy, when I tell people what I do for a living and I say, “We’re a talent agency,” and everybody gives you that look like, “But you’re in Houston. What’s a talent agency?” And people just don’t understand the very unique opportunity that we have for actors. We have actors and voice-over talent who do this full-time, and it’s everything from, you have the little introduction, and you talked about the corporate videos that we do, to a lot of the commercial work that we do, not just in Houston, but a lot of that that takes place in Austin as well. Then much of the film and television that we do are things that started because there are film incentives for the state and that allows the work to come this way, and we get amazing actors.

Cindi Davis:                        People feel like if you’re an actor and you’re here in Texas, or voice-over talent here in Texas, “Why didn’t you go to one of the big places, like LA or New York? What are you doing here in Texas?” We have actors who have amazing resumes, voice-over talent who have amazing resumes and they’re here based in Texas for interesting reasons. A lot of times, people come here because they’ve got family that needs access to the healthcare system so that’s what brought them here, and they decided they like the quality of life and so they stayed.

Ray Schilens:                      Cost of living lower, yeah.

Cindi Davis:                        Yeah, the cost of living. There are many reasons why people would actually choose to make Texas their home. And we’re really lucky that we have the ability to work in so many different facets.

Bruce Abbott:                    In the 20 years that you’ve been doing this, and you’ve seen a lot things, what are some areas that you look ahead, and you look to the future, that you see some really promising new areas for talent and growth in terms of technologies or opportunities?

Cindi Davis:                        Technology is always, this is the conversation that we’re always having around here. I always tell people when I first started here, the submission process for a project, let’s say if it’s an on camera commercial, we would have 8 X 10 hard copy headshots and resumes. And I was pulling headshots and resumes out of giant file cabinets and FedExing packages. You’d wait a day or two for that to get to the casting director. Then auditions were all done in person so that meant you were limited to what was there in your backyard. And technology has changed so much that you can work on things and it doesn’t matter where you are.

Cindi Davis:                        The majority of our on camera auditions are video taped auditions, or people do them with their phone. All of our voice-over, and you guys know this, as long as you have some sort of capability to connect, if it’s ISDN or Source Connect or anything, who cares if you’re in Japan. You can do the Houston project. It’s seeing how we can maximize those changes in the industry to create more opportunities for our talent. And a lot of that’s happening naturally. You look at how we consume media. I’m always very focused on that. A lot of the breakdowns that we get now are for Netflix TV shows, things may have lower budgets, but the volume of opportunities have increased.

Ray Schilens:                      Wow. If someone were to come to you, what kind of person would you be looking for, that would be a good engagement with you for the agency?

Cindi Davis:                        I think that the talent’s always the top thing. We pride ourselves on being able to listen to our client, to the buyer, to the casting director and really know what they’re looking for. And then to be able to match up the people we find with the ability to have job opportunities. We may really like somebody who’s very, very talented, but if we don’t see a reasonable way that they would be able to work, then we’re hesitant to sign that person. You’re looking at, we’ve been in business since 1990, so you’re looking at almost 29 years of reputation so we want to find professionals. No matter how talented you are, if nobody likes working with you, we don’t want to work with you either. So just some of those things.

Ray Schilens:                      Yeah, that makes sense.

Bruce Abbott:                    You were mentioning some of the pros as far as with technology and the cool opportunities and stuff, and of course, there’s always that flip side. So what are some of the challenges that you see to talent in the industry and everything, maybe with technology or other areas?

Cindi Davis:                        The first thing that comes to mind is keeping rights where we think they need to be. Talent invests a lot in their craft. You guys go through training, and head shots, and getting demo reels put together and all of those things. And you’re professionals and we’re always trying to make sure that you are truly paid what you’re worth. And technology has created this free-for-all where somebody can go and put their project out on Craigslist, or any of the other pay-to-play, that’s what we call them, websites.

Ray Schilens:                      Without mentioning names, absolutely.

Cindi Davis:                        Without mentioning names, yeah. Unfortunately, they put it out there and you get a newbie talent who doesn’t really know what they’re worth and they jump on that opportunity and possibly they’re good, possibly they’re bad, who knows. But if somebody’s willing to take that risk with them, then it just sinks the rights as time goes on. What we’ve seen is, as wonderful as that may be that we have a lot of producers and casting directors, who are like kids in a candy store because they feel like they have so many options out there because they can blast it out online and get all of these submissions back.

Cindi Davis:                        What we’re finding is that there’s true value to having an agent who will vet the talent. And people don’t enjoy having to do things more than once, having to find out why their talent did not show up to the session, or call in when they were supposed to, or any of those things. I think as opportunities increase and the different types of opportunities are there, then I think people will have less and less patience for trying to weed through things on their own. And that is ultimately what brings the rates back to where they should be.

Ray Schilens:                      So the people that get this message, and understand the concept of using somebody who can vet, you guys are like the BBB of the talent industry, the real deal.

Cindi Davis:                        It’s a good way to say it.

Ray Schilens:                      It’s one way to say it and interesting enough too, do you think over the course of time, it has evolved from just being a local agency? You’re a global agency now because of that technology.

Cindi Davis:                        That’s right. That’s right.

Ray Schilens:                      So you’ve got a reach that extends well beyond Houston. In the past, it was, I would assume, more Houston centric and Texas centric. But it seems that everybody from around the world is coming towards you with requests for stuff. I really love the positive spin that you put on going up against the challenges that do exist, the technological and the budget challenges. Like yeah, they’re out there, you can shop at the Dollar store, if you want, but frankly, would you eat something that you bought at the Dollar store?

Bruce Abbott:                    Well, you get what you pay for.

Ray Schilens:                      You get what you pay for.

Cindi Davis:                        It’s a competitive world out there. What we like to see, we like to see ourselves as partners with our clients that call and they’re looking for talent from the agency. We want success for their project. We get invested in the process. I think that that’s something that it seems like it would be less desirable with the pace of how things are taking place, but what we’re finding is that it’s even more desirable. We’ve had some stellar years around here and our talent have had stellar years around here. And I think part of that package is people returning to an area where they really want to know what they’re getting.

Ray Schilens:                      Sure, makes sense. What’s on the horizon for 2019, anything you’re going to surprise us with this year?

Cindi Davis:                        Let’s see. You guys will be getting a letter from us soon that we have just started a micro site for our voice-over talent, pbvoices.com. We’re working on getting that cleaned up and ready to go. One of the challenges is trying to compete with the pay-to-plays that are out there and making sure that we’ve got easy ways to search for our talent. But, we also want to make it very, very clear that we’re a traditional agency. You call here Monday through Friday 9:00 to 5:00, you get an agent on the phone. You get someone who’s invested in your project. We are fine if you want to contact us through the internet, but we also like to talk to you and know who we’re working with. You’ll see that we’re always trying to make sure that we have the best of both worlds. So that website is launching.

Ray Schilens:                      That’s exciting.

Cindi Davis:                        Yeah, it’s super exciting.

Ray Schilens:                      Cindi, you obviously really love what you do and, as you said before, you really found your niche. How’s it feel to be in that position? It’s got to be a great feeling inside to say, “Man, this is what I do. This is what I love, and it’s really worthwhile.”

Cindi Davis:                        Yeah. You know, it sounds cliché to say that when you find what you love, you don’t work a day in your life. I don’t work. I don’t work. I never turn off, but I never feel like I am having to do something that I don’t enjoy. I really love what I do. I love the people that I work with, that’s the best part of the job. The best part of the job is the people and it’s so fun to have the ability to communicate with people from all walks of life, all ages. Our youngest talent is four, our oldest talent is 91.

Bruce Abbott:                    Really?

Ray Schilens:                      That is cool.

Cindi Davis:                        Sometimes I wake up and I go, “How lucky am I?” And I hope that the team that works here with us, they feel the same way. We feel like we’re a family, and we’re a team, and we enjoy doing what we do.

Ray Schilens:                      That is reflected when you talk to the folks within the organization.

Bruce Abbott:                    Talent are blessed to have an agent with that much passion and that deep sense of engagement. They truly are getting a wonderful, wonderful person in you. And we thank you for that.

Ray Schilens:                      And everybody there.

Bruce Abbott:                    Yes, and everybody there, yes.

Cindi Davis:                        Thank you.

Bruce Abbott:                    Here it is, 2019 with all the resolutions I would assume that there will be some people listening to this podcast that say, “You know, somebody told me that I should be a voice actor.” What is your advice for someone like that when they call PBTalent. What would you tell them?

Cindi Davis:                        If we’re talking voice talent, it’s highly unlikely that we would accept a voice talent that does not have experience. Part of that battle when we were talking about challenges is, if we’re going to be competitive, we want to make sure that we have talent who are definitely competitive in the field. And voice-over is one of the most competitive things that we do because it doesn’t matter where you are. The opportunities we’re getting are not just exclusive to a certain region. They’re everywhere. So we don’t have the ability to mold a voice over talent. We really want you to come here and ready to rock and roll.

Cindi Davis:                        So a professional demo is what we’d want to hear. It needs to be produced professionally. We need to know that you do have experience behind the mike as a voice-over talent who’s been hired and paid to perform. Then we would consider you from there.

Ray Schilens:                      But you’ve also got some great resources though. You’re not just going to say, “Hey, listen, don’t call us. We’ll call you.” You’ll put people in touch with people who understand the value of preparation and training and such. You’ve got a lot of folks on your website. You’ve got seminars that are coming up, and those things. So you really are helping folks, even though they may have a desire, you put them in the right direction and wish them their very best. And maybe, at some point in the future, you come back and chat with them as well.

Cindi Davis:                        We get that all the time. We get people who will go to the website, gather information. They go off, they make a plan, they get training, they get the demo done, and they come back and they submit to us. I’ve got to tell you from the receiving end of submission, that’s impressive, the follow through is impressive, that you took the time to do that. And we will certainly give you the time of day by listening to your submission or by looking through your materials and really wondering if we’ll be able to be a good match.

Ray Schilens:                      And it’s like anything else, and I think you’ll agree, Bruce, you’ve got to work at it. You’ve got to get better every day and you’ve also got to have a business sense about you. This is not a hobby, this is not something that we do in our spare time. These are the ways that we bring dollars and put food on the table, and it’s the same for you though. And you have genuinely a big responsibility there to make sure that you are indeed representing only the best in the industry.

Cindi Davis:                        That’s right. And as a legitimate agency, we make our money from commission, from jobs that are booked. So if our talent aren’t out there booking and making money, we’re not making money. So we have this obligation, a skin in the game, to each other.

Ray Schilens:                      It’s 2019, let’s all go make some money. We wish you the very best. I think 2019’s going to be a great year for you as well. pbtalent.com is the website and, Cindi, you’re in the right place, at the right time and things are going to be good here in 2019 for you. I feel that.

Cindi Davis:                        And I feel that for you guys too, so thank you so much.

Bruce Abbott:                    Feel The Ad Love is a production of Radio Lounge, copyright 2019. Listen for more at radioloungeusa.com, a sound design and audio production services for broadcast, corporate, e-learning, podcasting, pretty much anything that needs sound. If you love what you hear, let’s talk. Again, radioloungeusa.com.