The New York Film Academy recently welcomed distinguished ICM talent agent, Boaty Boatwright, who has been in the business for fifty years. Moderated by producer Tova Laiter, the gracious guest fielded questions from a packed theater of filmmaking, producing, and acting students at 17 Battery Place.
Boatwright began her career as a children’s casting assistant in New York for such iconic films as To Kill A Mockingbird and the original Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. Boatwright also served as an executive for major film studios including MGM, Columbia, and Universal.
After moving into the role of a talent agent, Boatwright began representing directors such as Alan Pakula, Sidney Lumet, and notable actors, Joanne Woodward Paul Newman. Her current client list includes Stephen Frears (Academy Award Nomination), Tom Hooper (Academy Award Winner) and Cuba Gooding Jr. (Academy Award Winner).
While acknowledging how difficult the business can be to break in, Boatwright stressed the importance of pushing work at the film festivals, especially Toronto and Sundance. It is often the writer/directors job to be his or her own producer before gaining the attention of an agent. Most agents need to see proven work under a young filmmaker’s belt before they considering signing them. “Finding an agent is the hardest and most important part of the business,” she said.
Several actors from the audience also inquired about being cast as foreigners in American films. Boatwright understood the challenges involved, but stressed the importance of owning your cultural background and finding roles that could highlight what it is that makes your audition different than what’s expected.
Another fascinating moment of the evening came when Boatwright touched on a time she had worked with Alfred Hithcock, recalling the posh London hotel suites and expensive wine that Hitchcock would enjoy at lunch. In a time when California wine was just becoming popular Hitchcock told Boatwright, “I’ll never drink California wine.”
Few can claim the amount of experience that Boatwright has had in the entertainment industry, which leaves us extremely thankful for the time she spent enlightening our students on the path ahead.