For Kendall Rhodes, Talent Manager and Producer at Untitled Entertainment, having an analytical mind is essential for being a good dealmaker. As a producer, by trade, Rhodes is perhaps a strong dealmaker not just because of the fire-fighter skillset essential for being in production but for her experience on both sides of the fence. In 2006, she made the shift from traditional to digital after wrapping on feature “Southland Tales.” “While on set, I started getting pretty passionate about what was happening in the digital space. When I finished the film, I made a deliberate shift in my life to explore digital,” Rhodes told VideoInk. And since then, Rhodes has worked with some of the biggest names in the business, helping them grow their careers across platforms. “It’s good to look at the big picture and understand if the deal makes sense in the grand scheme of things. I always ask: “is the deal moving the client forward and is this deal better than their last deal”?” added Rhodes. What else is key to the business? Rhodes talked to VideoInk about some of her favorite deals, what industry trends are impacting her deals and what she’s most watching about the business.
VideoInk: What’s been your most meaningful deal?
KR: My mentor, Pat Mitchell, was my first real boss who really pushed me forward to go after what I want in business. She is now President and CEO of the Paley Center for Media in New York and she is just Wonder Woman in my eyes and has been such an amazing role model to me.
The attorneys and agents I have always worked with have been and are the best in the business. I view deals as a team effort with the clients, managers, attorneys, agents, publicists, parents, etc. — we all have different values, ideas, strengths and experiences to add to a deal to make it as close to perfect as possible. I become a better dealmaker with every deal.
VI: Is there one deal you’ve seen from afar that you didn’t do but thought was game changing for the business?
KR: In the digital business, “Camp Takota” (or what I call the “little film that could”) has really become an interesting talking point for the past couple years in Hollywood. It’s the one film that starred three social media stars who also produced, marketed and proved a new model of making an indie movie by going direct to the super fans and engaging the Influencer fanbase early on in the process and then releasing the film direct to consumer fans — mobile, computers, iTunes, etc. That small, indie film made an impact on film modeling, financing, and marketing in a way that is beneficial to our growing and evolving content business. I also admire Michelle Phan and how she grew Ipsy into a business using her social reach, brand and audience. What a great deal that was!
VI: What are the biggest issues impacting dealmaking right now?
KR: Ownership and real profit participation!
VI: What trends are you finding most interesting?
KR: Traditional Hollywood truly wants to cast and work with digital influencers/actors in a combination of influencer and traditional movies and TV series. Everyday I get another call from a casting director, producer or director asking me which digital stars can act and how do they go about casting them in their film or TV show. Being at Untitled Entertainment is amazing because we have so many traditional and mega talented actors and directors and writers and now we have such awesome digital talent — so we can bring them together to create amazing projects. It’s ideal.
2) VR — it’s exploding and literally one of the most exciting possibilities right now for the directors I work with. We are meeting with everyone. So many cool companies. I love what Stress Level Zero is doing with Brandon Laatsch. He is one to watch!
Kendall Rhodes is featured at part of VideoInk’s Dealmakers of 2016 special issue.