The offices of Odenkirk Proviciello Entertainment are unlikely to be the offices of a management and production company responsible for careers like Oscar-nominated Stephanie Hsu and films like this summer’s R-rated hit. It’s easy to miss. no resentmentStarring Jennifer Lawrence, set to be housed in Zillow’s dreamy 1920s Los Angeles craftsmanship. It makes more sense considering the office is just around the corner from the city’s popular improv theater, the Upright Citizens’ Brigade.
Now in its 15th year of operation, OPE has established itself as an industry leader in discovering emerging comedy talent. It’s worth noting that the company has at least one customer. saturday night live Since its inception (at one point it represented four of the cast’s on-screen players simultaneously).Current clients include i think i should quit Tim Robinson anxietyYvonne Orge, and bottoms Co-starring Rachel Sennott and Edvili Ayo. yes, Better Call Saul Actor Bob Odenkirk, husband of co-founder Naomi Odenkirk, is also a customer.
In OPE’s office, the living room becomes the lobby, the dining room is converted into a conference room, the bedroom is repurposed as an office, and the kitchen remains a kitchen. But the environment is a strict “no haters” policy that Odenkirk and Mark Provisiero want to cultivate within the team that currently occupies outposts in Los Angeles and New York. suitable for a sort of collegial workplace where
Odenkirk and Provisiero sat down for an interview ahead of the Toronto Film Festival, where clients such as Jay Duplass present new projects. THR We talk about the past 15 years, frequent visits to The Shithole, and what’s to come.
What prompted you to come together 15 years ago?
Naomi Odenkirk We have a mutual friend named Greg Daniels. Because Mark was representative of the many people who contributed to the film’s success. officeSo I worked with one of the actors, Jenna Fischer. At the time, I was just a sole manager and had no intention of partnering with anyone. I finally got to a place where I felt like I was standing on my own feet.Worn by Jenna Fisher officeBill Hader and Kristen Wiig SNL. I had turned down offers to join other management companies, but when I met Mark over lunch, I couldn’t think of any reason not to.
Mark Proviciero At that point, I had been an agent in William Morris’ television lighting division for 10 years, and everyone always told me, “Agents are like managers.” This was before many agents became managers. Being an agent was as hard as it was when I was an agent, so one day I suddenly quit and started my own company. I called Greg Daniels and basically introduced him to most of his writing staff, so I said, from your perspective, who would you like to partner with? And he said, “There are women doing the same thing comedy writers do with their comedy talent.” We met a few months later and were partners by the time lunch was over.
What were the original guiding principles for launching OPE?
Proviciero When someone got me so excited, I couldn’t imagine the idea of working with that person without going after them. [I asked]”We’re so excited about this voice, this script, this actor, do you see a vision that we can be incredibly helpful?” did [the company]. We didn’t have a business plan. Frankly, I don’t think either of us knew how to make it. We didn’t see the numbers. If Naomi had an actor she wanted to write about, she had a partner. If there was a writer who also wanted to act, I had a partner.
odenkirk I was always very interested in discovery rather than jumping on a train that was already in motion. I would rather find someone who recognizes the possibilities. In the case of some previous clients of mine, they didn’t have a headshot, let alone an agent. It really just trusted my intuition. On the bright side, Mark did just that. We traveled to Chicago and signed people who weren’t auditioned or represented and still performing there. I went out there and signed someone I loved talent-wise, like Tim Robinson, and Mark immediately took the script out of him and pushed him to start selling his show.
Where was your favorite place to discover that new talent?
odenkirk I just wanted to reach out to people I believed in that no one else had approached. “I have a client who needs a new manager,” the agent’s words could not have been more exciting to me. Every week I went to The Groundlings (although the Sunday meeting is still part of the school). You can see the wave of new ideas that the performers have been influenced by.As things progressed, the Sunday Company [shows] At Groundlings, everyone on stage was eventually already represented. In Chicago, he started his underground activities. And I started going to shows that were really only attended by other performers. One room looked like someone’s attic. It was called “fucking hole”.
Was there a moment when you said to yourself, “I made it”?
Proviciero Anna Konkur was a completely new customer to us when she was about 24 years old. She was an actor who did several short films with her friend Maya Erskine. She came up with pages and pages of ideas, one of which was her middle school yearbook photo page with a picture of this guy with a penis growing out of his head with the words “He is a bitch.” They marked this entire page with crayons and said: “Make this a show.” We don’t know how or even what it is. It took seven years, but on the first day of shooting [on Hulu’s Pen15]five minutes before the first shot of episode 1 of the order of the entire series, I remember saying, “This worked.”
like pen 15, How do you decide which project you belong to as a producer?what was behind no resentment?
odenkirk The origins of this project were great, when Mark started a few years ago with what he called the “IP Challenge”. “IP is very important. Let’s all think in creative ways about where IP can exist,” he said. All forms of IP, not just books and articles. When it was my turn to announce something, I found an old Craigslist ad. It was very interesting. “Sugar baby for my son” was the title of a 2013 Craigslist ad. I printed it out on paper and brought it in and we all discussed how the story was going and which clients would be. Perfect for that.All packed and installed [director] Gene Stupnitsky, and he wrote the script with John Phillips, and we brought in another more full-time producer, then Jen Lawrence. We put all the elements together and put them on the market.
Over the past few years, the wave of agents becoming managers has increased. At that time, I had been in management and production for more than 10 years, so how did I observe the changing tide?
Proviciero Part of that is supported by the increased hiring of dual managers and agents for clients. When I started working as an agent at lit, most writers didn’t have managers. It also recruited writers who value good management. I had some leeway. Sometimes that seems like a lot in this particular market. Many agents became managers during the ATA dispute. But the truth is, we don’t really think about it.
odenkirk I don’t know if I resent the growing saturation of wanting to sign with the same people we want to sign. Just because you’re the first to come up with an idea doesn’t mean it’s not welcome for others to raise flags and shingles.
What do you keep in mind when hiring new personnel?
Proviciero The good thing about so-called boutiques is that you can sort through a lot of things. We want to grow, but only if we know that person is a good person to be with. And to have their own voice, expressed by who they represent. Whereas they’ve built a business that excites, I doubt it’s a commercial grab. Some management jobs are very successful with one person, and some are very successful with 40 managers. This makes representations of all sizes less than ideal. I don’t think it matters much how many people there are. We are personal managers by definition and title and either we can hunt down the resources needed to support our client’s vision or you are not.
odenkirk What matters to me is what their talent preferences are? What kind of business are they building? Our culture means a lot to us.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.