Empire skate: Bazdekis exits CAA for Cinetic


New York-based film agent Christina Bazdekis has exited CAA to join former agency colleague Bart Walker at film sales, financing, consulting and management firm Cinetic Media.

Walker left CAA on Sept. 6 to join John Sloss and Robert Nathan as a Cinetic partner. The trio launched a talent management division, Cinetic Management, with a plan to develop clients' projects by raising money from international sources before producing and selling them (along with outside projects) to distributors.

Bazdekis is a longtime colleague of Walker, having launched her agency career as his assistant at ICM before being promoted to become an agent. She joined him at CAA in November 2004.

Some of the directors who will be joining Bazdekis — who is now serving as their manager — include Zoe Cassavetes, Steven Shainberg, Thomas Vinterberg, Mitchell Lichtenstein, Ziad Doueiri, Sean Ellis and Gaby Dellal.

Bazdekis and Walker shared several clients at CAA, including actor-director John Turturro. Most of Walker's CAA clients — including Julian Schnabel, Julie Taymor, Mira Nair, Lisa Cholodenko, Tamara Jenkins, Sofia Coppola and Jim Jarmusch — will be managed by him at Cinetic. All brought prestige to the agency, but given their low-budget indie features, they garnered less in commissions than many on its all-star lineup.

The new management arm also was designed as a home for the clients of Walker — and now Bazdekis — to complement or replace their agency representation. Like other Cinetic staffers, Bazdekis will not have an official title.

The move leaves CAA with no New York-based film agents at the moment, raising questions about agent representation for Walker and Bazdekis' clients and the firm's plans for a full-time East Coast film presence. According to an industry source, the firm has no immediate plans to reinstall full-time New York film agents. The defections have raised some questions among industry observers about the commitment of CAA and other top agencies to indie and New York-based talent, films and dealmaking.

But CAA had no full-time New York film agents before the arrival of Walker and Bazdekis about three years ago.

Earlier this year, Walker helped sell such top Sundance buys as "In the Shadow of the Moon," "Teeth" and "My Kid Could Paint That." Shortly after he left the 32-year-old agency, CAA repped one of the biggest indie film deals of last month's Toronto International Film Festival, selling Helen Hunt's "Then She Found Me" to ThinkFilm and TVA Films for $2.5 million-$3 million. The firm still has music, sports and theater reps in New York as well as Los Angeles-based film agents who travel across the country for business.

A Cinetic spokesperson declined comment on which CAA clients have joined the firm. When reached near press time, a CAA spokesperson declined comment on its plans for the New York office or the status of its former agents' clients.