Sarah Kovacs

1) YOU STARTED OUT AS A RECEPTIONIST AND IN 4 YEARS YOU BECAME A FULL TIME AGENT!! TO SOME PEOPLE THIS MAY SOUND LIKE A FAIRYTALE BUT I BET WAS A LOT MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT, RIGHT?

Absolutely! It was a ton of hard work and not something that was handed to me. When I first started at Kraft-Engel I was the receptionist for about 3 months where I directed calls, filed invoices, burned submission CD’s (yes you read right). Then I became Richard Kraft’s assistant shortly thereafter. In fact, when I was promoted to this position it was specifically stated to me that an assistant was all that was needed, nothing more. A third agent at Kraft-Engel at the time was a job that was not only unavailable – it did not exist. But I was okay with that. I knew amazing things would happen to me while just being in that office, so I trusted in that feeling and got to work not worrying about where it would lead. I just knew being in a place this electric would mean exciting things lay ahead.

After my first year with Richard I had a performance review. It went like this: Richard: “I love you, don’t ever leave. Okay, we’re done”. I told him the feeling was mutual and that in addition to taking care of his desk, I’d like to be even more helpful and take on more. We discussed what that would look like and from that conversation I was given the green light to very quietly and without any inadvertent toe-stepping, represent a few up-and-comers as hip pocket clients. This was in addition to my full time assistant gig. My first client was Austin Wintory. He left his agent at the time to come be with me – an assistant. I still think he was crazy to take that leap with someone who was not an actual agent yet. But he had faith in me and me in him and reeeeally fun stuff started to happen. My mini roster grew to include people like Christopher Tin, Jake Monaco, Garth Stevenson, Philip White, Ego Plum… just to name a few from those early days. I did “double-duty” as I call it – assisting and agenting at the same time – for a couple years until the needle started to move. This took utilizing every extra minute of time I could and staying insanely organized.

There was still one more transitional year after that before I was able to agent full time, but eventually I moved into the office next to Richard’s and thereafter my wings were unclipped. Getting there was a slow, low steady burn. I knew that things would fall into place in their own time, in their own way and because of that I knew not to force or rush it. Plus I truly needed those years to learn the job! Now I’m blessed to get to work with geniuses like Mateo Messina, David Schwartz, Garry Schyman, Bear McCreary. In the end, I trusted the universe and the universe did not disappoint.

2) SARAH, YOU ARE HEADING THE ‘NEW MEDIA DIVISION’ IN ONE OF THE WORLD’S LEADING AGENCIES. WHAT LEAD TO THE CREATION OF THAT DIVISION AND WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE AT THAT POSITION?

The creation of the ‘new media’ division came around the time of the historical Grammy nomination for a certain video game score (can you guess?). It was such an exciting time and we really wanted to be on the forefront of that new frontier. While incredible game music was not exactly “new”, it wasn’t until that time that the main stream music community was recognizing that talent. So it was the perfect time to explore this part of our industry and help represent that part of visual media in addition to film and TV.

Interactive media is such a fascinating community to be a part of. One thing I noticed was that it operates so differently than that of film and television. One of the first challenges I ran into was how to know what games were being made and what composers were scoring them. In film and TV this type of information is published in the trades super early – sometimes years in advance. Its relatively easy to track so there’s plenty of opportunity to become involved in these projects and help get our composers attached to them. However, in games everything is kept SO SECRET. What I found most challenging was by the time a composer is announced on a video game, its already been scored and is about to be released. So I learned that in order to be in the know before a composer is hired, one must cultivate strong and trusting relationships with the audio directors and producers of those games.

Another fun thing I bumped into was discovering that there is a small (or not so small?) number of folks in the video game world that .. how shall I put this… ‘do not enjoy’ having to work with a composer’s agent. This may not be specific to games but nonetheless I have noticed it here. It makes me chuckle because once we get to talking they realize I don’t really fit the “Hollywood agent” stereotype they had in their head. Basically just being a human helps put other humans at ease.

3) I AM SURE THAT YOU GET ASKED THIS NUMEROUS TIMES BUT FOR THE BENEFIT OF OUR MEMBERS I HAVE TO ASK YOU TOO: WHAT IS THE RIGHT TIME FOR A COMPOSER TO SEEK REPRESENTATION? DO PEOPLE COME TO YOU OR YOU GO TO THEM?

People do ask this a lot, but its an important question. The answer is: don’t call us, we’ll call you. Truly, when a composer is ready for an agent, the agent will seek them out. They will do this when they keeping hearing this composer’s name from various sources around them or better yet they keep loosing jobs to this person. Sometimes agents sign composers based on a recommendation from a colleague or a break out score in a new film or show or game. Sometimes the music is just so so good, we have to have them and other times its a combination of things. Each agent has their own set of criteria for signing new clients and sometimes that criteria changes. My thing is if we’re meant to be, we’ll find each other. Kind of like dating.

4) CAN YOU ELABORATE ON YOUR QUOTE: ‘BE THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION THEY HAVE YET TO ASK’?

Its simple: you see a need and you fill it before being asked to do so and you do this without any promise of getting anything out of it. The thing often forgotten is that 9 times out of 10, you really do get something out of it! Cool shit does and will happen. But cool shit tends to be allergic to things like worry and fear. Worry and fear also includes that pesky default button labeled “protect thyself”. I say just be helpful and relax about it!

5) YOU HAVE RECENTLY BECOME A MOTHER (CONGRATS!). HAS YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON CAREER/LIFE CHANGED AFTER THAT? PARENTHOOD IS AFTERALL A FULL TIME JOB.

So much has changed in my life since I gave birth and in SUCH a wonderful way. Once baby arrived I got to redefine what my work/home life relationship looked like. You have to. Luckily before baby, my husband and I were pretty good about working really, really hard and then every few months taking a tiny break and going somewhere for a long weekend. We would do this a couple times a year and it was enough to recharge and recenter, so that we could keep chugging away at our career goals and still enjoy the life we were building together at the same time. My hubs is a composer too – so I am personally on both sides of that aisle. Its a really hard job to have while finding anything that resembles “balance” but I believe its possible. You have to decide how you define that for yourself and your family, and not measure it according to anyone else’s idea of balance. Its going to be different for everyone.

Parenthood is definitely a full time job and so is my actual full time job. Before I began my journey to motherhood I was still an assistant hustling and working long days – so was my husband. It was hard to picture what family life would look like being so busy with little flexibility in our work schedules, but all I ever knew – more than anything else – was that I HAD to be a mother. I didn’t have to be an agent but I had to be a mother. Yes, I said it. I was definitely scared not knowing exactly how it was going to work and exactly how I would be able to do both and do both well. But I eventually accepted that the “how” and the “when” of it all would get worked out. It was an invaluable exercise in leaning on trust and letting go of worry. I know its annoying when people say “everything will fall into place”, but as it turns out thats exactly what happened for me. By the time I actually got pregnant I was in my own office agenting full time with control over how I managed my responsibilities. It was the perfect time to start a family and thats when it happened.

Having a baby has forced me to set a new pace in my life, both personally and professionally, and yes it is definitely challenging. But every day I try to look at those challenges as opportunities to decide whats most important and cherry pick what I want to be doing. Its allowed me to reset my priorities and I’ve had to be super honest about this with myself. I love love love my job and nothing will make me want to let that go…but I also love my kid too. I believe whole heartedly both of those loves can coexist – its up to each individual to make it work for them. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work for a company that has allowed me great flexibility in my work schedule so that I can also fulfill my mom duties too. For me right now my thought is this: my baby is only going to be this tiny for a few more months. Soon she’ll be a toddler and then she’ll be in school every day and then she’ll be teenager who thinks I’m a dumbass and then she’ll be 30 like me having her own babies. Thats how fast its going to pass. So in these early months, I’ve decided its okay if I don’t get to every single email in one day. The important stuff gets done, my clients are happy and I can over achieve on the rest another day.