The Maine Film Association’s new Marquee Business Member Dirigo Talent Agency is connecting Maine’s best talent to projects across the state. Created in 2017, Dirigo Talent is committed to facilitating the kind of connections that provide media professionals with the very best teams, both in front of and behind the camera, leading to the very best work. We recently caught up with Dirigo Talent’s Christine Marshall and David Jon Timm to learn more about the agency and the work they do.
1. Tell us a bit about Dirigo Talent Agency and the work you do.
Dirigo Talent Agency was founded in 2017 by partners David Jon Timm and Christine Marshall. Our goal is to connect commercial, print, and film productions with the most professional and personable talent Maine has to offer. For our talent partners at Dirigo, our goal is to connect them with projects that make them feel valued and fulfilled professionally. We offer casting services, as well as support in staffing behind the camera.
2. Dirigo Talent Agency is the go-to casting agency in Maine. How did you two decide to partner to bring this necessary and valued service to Maine’s creative economy?
We both agreed that there was a void in the area of Maine casting that needed to be filled. We are constantly impressed by the caliber of the talent here, but that doesn’t always mean that the people in need of that talent know where to look for it. We wanted to ensure, as this market opens up more – through the efforts of organizations like the MFA – that artists who choose to make their living here in Maine are a part of that growth.
3. Why is it important to Dirigo Talent to support the MFA and its work?
Maine has been languishing for far too long in relation to the film industry. There is no doubt that we have extraordinary resources, from this place itself to its dedicated professionals in front of and behind the camera, and that a healthy, thriving film industry does nothing but good for the Maine economy. Yet we still do not have the types of incentives that make shooting here, utilizing local professionals and services, enticing enough to film companies considering Maine for their projects. The MFA is working so hard to bring Maine in line with industry standards, and to demonstrate that Maine is a viable, valuable option for filmmakers. We stand behind the MFA’s efforts to effect real, measurable growth in the Maine film industry. Because it really is one – an industry, that is – and it has been dismissed for years, even by those whose job it is to promote its growth. The MFA is making some really impressive inroads in getting us that recognition. We believe in that, and want to support it.
4. Time to brag: what are you most proud of that Dirigo Talent has achieved?
The first year we prepared our taxes, we sent out 1099 forms to about dozen people, and we were so proud, because it meant that, in our own way, we had begun helping people earn real income that could make a difference in their lives. Every year since, that stack of 1099’s has grown significantly, meaning more and more folks are being materially recognized for the work that they do here, and that we are a part of making that happen. That probably doesn’t sound very sexy, but anything that gives people incentive to stay here and make their living in Maine is good for all of us, you know?
Every time one of our folks gets their first gig, or when our talent secures one of those national gigs that essentially provides solid income for at least a year – we are beyond excited, every time.
One of the hardest things we have to do is submit multiple people for one role – we want every one of them to get it, and that’s just not possible!
We just helped cast a feature film being shot here – hooray for the companies willing to bring their projects to Maine despite the lack of incentives! – and it felt like a particularly collaborative experience for a location project. But every time we get to support Maine-based filmmakers and commercial enterprises we are deeply proud. Outside companies may come and go, but we are so grateful for the businesses here who produce consistent, quality work opportunities year-round.
We are thrilled to see clients recognizing the need for diversity in casting here in Maine, and we hope we can continue to learn and grow in this area. We want to advocate well for inclusive, representative casting here in Maine.
As for in-a-pinch casting scrambles, that describes nearly every casting! The search for talent is often left until the last minute. Casting can be dismissed as not a big deal – until a client realizes that finding the right person for the part is more involved than just pointing at a headshot and saying “that one.”
Nobody questions that finding the right technician who’s best qualified for the gig is important, but so often talent are seen as interchangeable, undifferentiated people who can be found mere minutes before shooting – or once the client stops clinging to the idea that their nephew, neighbor or cousin “can just play the part.”
That is often where many of those scrambles come from. The client decided that a family member would be just perfect, (and cheaper) without understanding that not only do experienced actors and models make for an ultimately more economical, efficient, and satisfying experience, but that that adorable nephew or friend never realized that being in a commercial meant long, uneventful hours, and understanding how to work in front of a camera. Which is not, actually, that easy or intuitive. It takes skill (and a great attitude, in our opinion.) Which is what our folks have got.
5. What else do you want MFA Members and our broader audiences to learn about Dirigo Talent?
Our motto is “great work comes from great connections.” We completely believe in that.
You may get the footage you need from an impersonal, unenjoyable shoot, but why put yourself through that? So many people who don’t do this work think that it’s just fun and easy. The truth is that it’s often difficult and draining. So knowing we’re sending out talent who will add a positive vibe to a set makes us happy.
Because if people on the outside think this work is mostly just fun, who are we to burst their bubble? There is absolutely nothing wrong with a set full of happy people, working as a team toward one common goal that will make for a terrific finished project, and lasting professional relationships. It certainly makes going home at the end of the day that much better.
Home to your home here, in Maine, that is.
Dirigo means “I lead.” With such a wealth of Maine artists, and organizations like the MFA, that’s what we hope to do, as part of this industry in general, and for Maine.
Thank you to Christine, David, and everyone at Dirigo Talent Agency for their support of the MFA and the work we do!