Actors, directors, screenwriters – some of the few professions one usually highlights when talking about films. We can surely name our favorites, but what about the editors, the lighting crew, the art directors and the countless assistants, who are also essential for the making of a movie?
That’s the question Andrew Toth, Hungarian born founder of Above Below The Line asked himself, when he started his agency in Los Angeles 2 years ago. Currently representing over 30 below-the-line professionals of the film industry, the agency shows great promise for the future, with goals to expand the number of their agents and clients alike.
We asked Toth about how everything started, how their agency operates, and their plans for the years to come:
BPR: From Hungary to the U.S., gaining years of experience in both film and TV – how did that happen?
A. Toth: I was born in Budapest, Hungary, and moved to the US at a very young age. Throughout my life, I have moved around a lot and this gave me the skills to adapt in any situation, in a very quick way. After graduating from Arizona State University with a film production degree, I moved to LA to pursue my career. I’ve worked in the film industry for over 13 years now and have had the opportunity to work in a variety of different crew and production positions. From the camera department to all different levels of production department, this has given me a clear understanding of the industry and life on set.
BPR: When and how did you come up with the idea for Above Below The Line?
A. Toth: My own experiences of working in the camera and production departments gave me a personal approach to relate to my clients. The idea came to me when I was working at Keslow Camera as a Marketing agent. After talking with production people and crew members directly, I came to the realization that there was not really any agency out there that represents only below the line crew members in film and tv, along with commercials. With all of my contacts over the years and experiences, it became obvious to me that creating an agency like this was necessary, and I was up for it.
BPR: What kind of services does your agency provide?
A. Toth: So many crew members struggle to find work on a regular basis, and when they work for a long period of time, maintaining those connections are nearly impossible with the hours on set. In addition to that, being able to change positions once established can be super difficult.
COVID made all of this even harder and made us all rethink how we should balance our work and life. The pandemic gave a lot of us time to think and reconsider what they wanted out of their work situations. That’s where the agency comes in, with the promise to facilitate all of the above.
Our agency is dedicated to help our clientele in different ways:
- Help them find work on a regular basis in Features, TV, Commercials, Music videos and Documentaries.
- Help them grow in their career (project wise or crew position wise)
- Help them relocate to another State film industry if they move.
- Facilitate a work and life balance by advising and guiding them.
- Create a trustworthy community that could be life long lasting.
- Help film productions to crew up by recommending crew (especially for a non-local production).
What really got me going with our agency was the idea of creating a way to represent a vetted network of crew members and productions that can help build a trustworthy community who will connect for life and build their careers together.
BPR: In your opinion, what makes Above Below The Line different from other agencies?
A. Toth: Not only are we one of the only below the line crew agencies out there, we also pride ourselves as not just being another typical agency, the goal is to keep things very personal, unlike the big agencies or job posting websites out there. By keeping the agency and clients exclusive, we can work hands-on with our clients and try our best to keep them in the loop on all aspects of growing their career. As our company grows, so do our clients.
Another aspect that makes us differ would be the fact that we not only vet our clients/crew we represent, but also the productions that seek the job position. That way both parties can feel taken care of and trust that it’s all legit.
BPR: What’s the feedback from your clients like?
Although we are still fairly new, the overall feedback has been very positive. We have gotten many kind words from productions and crew. It’s been such a surprise to everyone that agencies like this haven’t really existed yet and we have had an overwhelming amount of BTL crew members looking to join.
BPR: What is your overall goal with Above Below The Line?
A. Toth: The overall goal of this agency is to have all represented below the line crew be treated the same as above the line talent. It doesn’t matter where their career is currently, but our goal is to make it better. Our main goal is to help people reach a position in their career they’ve always wanted to be at. Being with this kind of agency allows talented individuals more of a chance to compete for projects in the higher caliber and showcase those talents.
The agency is currently helping nationally and internationally, but we would like to expand to different locations and represent crew from all around the world. Currently, we are based in Los Angeles, CA, but do have clients from all over. A major goal is to have most productions from abroad seek the crew with our agency primarily based on the location they are filming in. For example, European production companies filming in LA using our agency for all their crew member needs.
BPR: Can you see BTL workers getting the same kind of attention/recognition as ATL workers of the industry?
A. Toth: The talent of crew members seems to be grossly overlooked and seen as replaceable. There are so many crew members that are just as important as the ATL, if not more. Without some of these key people, the projects could not be continued. BTL crew members work hard, longer and sometimes go above and beyond to help the project. I feel that all crew members should be treated with the utmost respect whether it’s a PA or all the way up to DP or line producer.
Making sure to maintain their trustworthy standards, Above Below The Line selects clients carefully by reviewing their resume and interviewing them personally. If you are interested in being represented and get the projects you deserve, send and up to date CV – preferably with 3 professional references included – and showreel to firstname.lastname@example.org with all the details.