âOne of the unknowns was when we walked out the doors of our former employers, we didnât necessarily have a destination,â Levine says. âSo we found ourselves at a Coffee Bean, running our operations at that location on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood for the initial start of Verve.â
Tom Cruise sci-fi thriller "Oblivion," directed by Verve client Joseph Kosinski.
Jurassic Park 4″ (helmer Colin Trevorrow) and "Star Wars VII" (writer Michael Arndt), and CBSâ summer series "Under the Dome" (exec producer Brian Vaughan). The agency also claims to have more top 10 scripts on Hollywoodâs most recent Black List than any of its rivals.
Since its beginnings nearly 3Â½ years ago, Verve has grown to 11 agents, including former Gersh rep Amy Retzinger, who heads the agencyâs newly expanded TV division and was made a fourth partner.
âI looked around and, much like these guys, I thought there was a need for a very different kind of representation,â says Retzinger, 40. âI come to it from a slightly different background from my partners, but where they were looking to get a little bit more hands-on, I was looking for a little bit more strategic thinking, a little more big-picture.â
As challenging as it was to start a small tenpercentery in an industry dominated by agency behemoths like CAA, WME and UTA, the Verve partners found there was a hole in the market â mostly for writers and directors â to offer highly personalized service.
(Verveâs Bryan Besser says doors are opening for smaller agencies.)âWhat was exciting was that we discovered that a lot of our clients had felt increasingly disconnected with this kind of giant corporate approach to representation, and felt a little lost,â says Besser, 41.
He notes that he and his colleagues like to focus more on celebrating clients and their accomplishments than to brag publicly about how great their agency is. In fact, contrary to the usual Hollywood chest-pounding in the press, this article marks the first time the Verve partners have agreed to be interviewed about the shingle.
Displaying a self-confidence that some may view more as cockiness and arrogance, the founding partners have nonetheless injected a cool-kid energy into the agency world, and Verve is considered a hot shop on the rise.
âThere is no question these guys are building a successful business,â says Illumination Entertainment chief Chris Meledandri. âIt is based on having excellent taste and a very clear idea of their companyâs culture, rooted in a commitment to talent, above all else. Their challenge will become maintaining this culture as they grow and become increasingly successful.â
Starting a new motion picture-centric agency in the teeth of the economic crisis and at a time when the studios were slashing their annual movie slates was both bold and risky.
The Verve founders realized this would be a big hurdle, but believed their focus to help talent succeed across all media would help shape the new landscape. âI think one of the things that really played to our favor was that there was kind of a paradigm shift in the business,â says Levine, 39. âWhen we were in college and in high school, it was really a movie star-driven business. And we made a really simple, easy decision to focus on creators (writers and directors, rather than actors), whether theyâre creating for television or for movies or the digital space or publishing.â
The idea behind Verve grew out of a friendship and bond the founders formed after first meeting in the mailroom of Endeavor in 2000 and rising through the ranks. (The trio left the agency eight months after it merged with Endeavor.) Weinstein, 36, says that the overarching principle the three always shared was trust. âWe had absolute faith that when we became business partners that whatever Adam Levine was doing, or anyone else for that matter, it was for the good of Verve.â
So, whatâs their strategy going forward?