By Steve Garland.
There are a lot of words being bandied about at the moment to describe what’s going on, most of them tend to be prefixed with ‘un’.
Unprecedented, uncertain and unnerving have popped up in pretty much every single email and call I’ve had in the last couple of weeks and they’re not words we as managers and agents really care for. Our job is to advise, protect and source opportunities for our creatives so when our industry plunges into this level of unfamiliar territory it becomes increasingly difficult to do so.
In normal circumstances this job can be immensely satisfying - booking in gigs, securing festivals, TV appearances, castings and the like and being able to brighten up a client's day with a job offer is a privilege, and I think one of the most enjoyable aspects of our work. It’s a reflection of the hard work agents across the board put in for their clients but for a large part of the last two weeks those moments have been few and far between.
If we park the clear and obvious financial implications and stresses this pandemic is causing, the hardest thing for me personally has been the ongoing delivery of bad news to our clients. I get absolutely no pleasure in stripping their diaries and their livelihoods, particularly the drip feed nature of how it’s happened with venues making decisions often before the government intervention. We have a close relationship with our clients, the job isn’t faceless and transactional by any means and we care for them not just as comedians and actors but as people and friends. We love to share in their successes and conversely, it stings so much to break bad news. That sadness is shared and multiplied by each client and it’s no easy thing to deal with. To their credit, the levels of stoicism and understanding from our camp has been admirable and I have the utmost respect for every single one of them.
It would be very easy to dwell in the current uncertainty and to focus on the stress and anxiety caused by breaking bad news and not being able to do our jobs to the best of our ability, but i’m proud to work for an agency that is taking steps to protect, mitigate and traverse the terrain. Hannah is one of the most pragmatic, level headed and proactive people I know and although we’ve been isolated for the best part of 3 weeks now we’re constantly talking and devising strategies to not only protect our clients but also thrive.
Ironically for me this process has had me thinking a lot more creatively recently. Coming up with novel ways to live stream gigs, exploring the world of Twitch, Patreon, viral (excuse the word) content ideas, working up new IP and treatments and the like have kept me occupied during the time I would have been spending coordinating logistics and diary management. It’s relaxed the mind, given me cause for optimism and eased the anxiety. This coupled with the phenomenal efforts of the wider industry is very heartening to see.
Having a forward thinking mindset in a time like this is so important, it’s how we react to crises that shape what the industry will look like in the future. Which is why I’m officially dropping the ‘un’. From here on out I’m only prefixing with ‘re’. I look forward to rebuilding, restoring and reinvigorating the landscape with our clients and our friends in the industry in the months to come.