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WMA agent Jeff Shumway is joining entertainment law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, where he will work directly with entertainment finance and transactional attorneys Schuyler Moore and Matthew Thompson.
Shumway has been a motion picture packaging and finance agent at WMA since January 2007, representing such clients as filmmakers Mike Newell, Michael Hoffman, Kari Skogland, John C. Richards, Michael Bacall and Don McKellar. They will remain with the agency, and he will continue to be associated with them as their legal representative.
Having first worked as an attorney at Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman in Los Angeles, Shumway spent a decade at ICM before moving to WMA.
Citing the changing nature of the film business, with studios making fewer movies and closing their specialty divisions, he said assembling projects for clients has led him to become increasingly involved in the complex financing transactions handled regularly by Moore and Thompson.
Shumway also has been advising foreign governments looking to attract film production and financing and decided that by working for a law firm, he could pursue those efforts while working with talent from various agencies, rather than only one.
“In the 12 years since I made the decision to move from a law firm into the agency business, the skill set I had at the beginning of the journey has been called into more and more demand,” Shumway, who received his law degree from USC, said of his decision to return to a legal setting.
With film financing becoming more sophisticated, Shumway said law firms are best situated to structure deals and access money, but some firms have not been successful at accessing talent. Dealing with talent, though, is second nature for anyone who has worked at an agency, so Shumway said he hopes to bring that expertise to the mix.
His departure from WMA comes amid escalating industry talk of a possible merger between that agency and Endeavor, but Shumway said his move has been in the works for about four months. Having given formal notice Friday, he said he plans to finish at WMA and move to Stroock within a few weeks.
“Jeff’s addition to our team gives Stroock another big-name presence in Hollywood and New York,” said Moore, a Stroock entertainment partner. “Jeff has extraordinarily deep connections at all levels of the entertainment industry.”
Stroock has offices in New York, Los Angeles and Miami. Moore represented Reliance on its recent DreamWorks funding transaction and Summit on its transition from foreign sales agent to mini-major domestic distributor. Thompson represents a range of capital sources — financial institutions, private-equity funds, hedge funds and high-net-worth individuals — with investments in Hollywood.
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