Say What? Sarah Valentine

How you do business?
We work fiercely hard. We make ourselves available to our clients 364 days a year, my bookers work tirelessly to make sure that all productions run smoothly and the work ethic of my team and talent is second to none.

We sometimes feel under-appreciated, as there is such a huge workload involved with booking large numbers of people and with schedule changes and the odd fussy director, it can be quite hard. Our website, being as highly functional as it is, does make everyone’s job run smoothly.

What’s the biggest job you’ve done?
There are two that come to mind. One was the commercial for the Samsung curved television where we provided 300 extras, three days in a row with 100% turnout on every single day.

We also had an American production (which we can’t name) where we provided all the extras over a 15 day shoot over a 1000 extras, all costumed, and again we had 100% turnout. I’m extremely lucky to have such an amazing team of bookers as well as a fantastic group of talent who understand how important it is to be punctual, reliable, work hard and be professional.

What’s been the most challenging?
When the New Zealand film industry literally died in 2013, I had to make staff redundant to stop my business from falling over completely. We lost a lot of key people from the industry at that time so it was felt right across the board.

Being a single mum and having worked for so many years to build a successful business and having 2000+ talent on my books all looking for work was very stressful. I felt such a huge responsibility to my staff and my talent and felt as if I was letting everyone down but I was powerless to do anything about it. It was a very tough time.

Any particular highlights or milestones (other than the 100,000) along the way?
I always get excited when we get asked to provide talent exclusively. We had the exclusive contract for Power Rangers for a number of years, as well as Evil Dead, and a number of other productions that I’m not allowed to mention. Being the sole provider to a production really brings the team together and we work so hard for that production to make sure that everything runs smoothly.

What’s the bread and butter for the agency?
I don’t know that there is ‘bread and butter’ as the landscape changes so much. We are fortunate to have fantastic talent, hard working bookers and a professional online system, which means that we can tackle big and small jobs simultaneously. We aim to cater to local productions like South Pacific Pictures as well as servicing the needs of big international productions when they are here. TV commercials also make up a large part of our core business.

Your business is reactive. What do you do to mitigate that?
I have been asked for anything and everything you could ever possibly imagine and 9/10 times I have been able to supply what is required. You name it and we are asked to supply it – from vampire babies to hobbits to blue men in Avatar to a 7-foot giant.

Everything is just a phone call away. That is why love my job – because you never know what you’re going to get asked for next.

Where do you see BGT going in the next few years?
I would like to go global whether it be franchising our online booking system to other markets/agencies or having our own BGT bases abroad, I love to have big dreams it keeps my soul happy!!!

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Written by Keith Barclay

Keith is the editor of SCREENZ, and the co-creator and founding editor of CREWED.

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