In 1999, the world of film and television makeup artistry changed forever. That was the year that industry leader, Daniella Milton started her eponymous agency representing the best of the best in creative work for film and TV. A short time later she partnered with London’s agent-extraordinaire, Mandi Martin, on the London branch of the agency and the rest is industry history. On the 20 year anniversary of the agency we wanted to get some insight on how the industry has changed, what it’s like being an agent to the industry’s creative rockstars and what it takes to make an agency last.
How did the agency come about?
When my husband and I arrived in the US in 1992, I had spent my career to date in the fashion industry in London. I started and ended in fashion PR working for the unparalleled fashion publicist, Lynne Franks. In between I was bookings editor for the fashion and beauty departments of the UK edition of Marie Claire magazine. I also produced the British Fashion Awards at The Royal Albert Hall and coordinated various charitable fashion events and shows and even worked for the iconic photographer, David Bailey.
When I came to LA in 1992, there was really no fashion here. I was a total fish out of water. I had no contacts for business except I had the actor, Jack Nicolson’s, phone number. While working for David, I had become very friendly with Jack’s assistant, Annie Marshall, so that was the only contact I had. Annie eventually connected me to her friend Anjelica Huston who was looking for an assistant. I met with Anjelica, was hired, and worked with her for the next six years.
On a project in New Mexico, I became friendly with Anjelica’s personal costumer, Nava Sadan, and was talking to her about makeup and hair agencies and didn’t understand why makeup artists and hair stylists for film and TV had no agency representation. I found it so odd.
There were some agents who had one or two artists on their books, but there was nobody solely representing artists for film and TV. By that time, I had worked with a vast amount of industry creatives while I was with Anjelica such as Barbara Lorenz, Susan Germaine, Fern Buchner, Christina Smith, Tina Earnshaw, and met many others along the way.
Nava encouraged me to pursue it and to see what would happen and hers was the first deal I did. She started to tell more people I was going to be an agent (she was clearly a step ahead of me!) I had no clue what I was doing. I waddled pregnant into the union IATSE 706, met with John Inzerella and explained my plan to start an agency. Luckily, he helped me immensely as did Sue Cabral-Ebert and Leonard Engleman.
I started with about five artists and left my job with Anjelica to start The Milton Agency in 1999. My first serious phone call was from Cameron Crowe asking about one of my artists, which I honestly thought was a prank call. I had no idea this would all workout but, I had hope and believed in myself. It took about five years of hard work before even becoming a pin prick on the map of the industry. It has worked so far, but not without the immense support from my incredible UK partner Mandi Martin and both of our amazing teams. Without them none of this would have been realized or even close to being possible.
What is the most challenging thing about running an agency?
It can be a 24-7-365 job. So it comes down to really trying to balance having some personal time and having artists respect the artist/agent boundaries. We also struggle if an artist lacks trust. That can be a challenge, though we try not to take it personally.
Are there any major differences between running an agency in London and LA?
The major differences are the U.S. union vs. the UK union and the different rules and regulations that make the deals, ultimately, very different. Also, artists cannot do both hair and makeup in the U.S. union — even if they are proficient in both, whereas doing both are acceptable and very normal in the UK/EU/AU/NZ. The rest of it’s pretty much the same.
What do love most about it?
We love when there is a win-win situation. When the artist and project producers are both happy. We do not like producers to feel put in a corner with a deal. Obviously we want the best for our artists, but sometimes the best is not getting more, but rather having a deal that everybody is happy with and that leads to repeat business. That is key and the artists that follow this rule are generally the ones that have a much more lucrative career in the long term. We also love the art form of it all. We never fail to be amazed with the incredible transformations that our artists create.
How has the industry changed over the past years?
We think it is mainly the lack of mid-size budgets and lots and lots of low budgets. The low budgets are generally incredibly well written, which has led to major stars wanting to be attached, but for the hair and makeup artists it is very difficult to do more than one of these a year as the rates are very low. Invariably we can negotiate a better deal, but it is not up to the rate standards we need to get for our artists to maintain their lives as well as being happy with the deal. Also, navigating the new streaming and online media, that does not quite fit into either the film or television categories and knowing how to pitch that field. In addition, we now also have dedicated staff to manage social media, as this is also more of a business portal and showcase these days.
What is MiltonRED?
MiltonRED is a new division launched in the UK. We decided to develop RED to provide a bespoke approach to our nonfilm and television production work. The intention is to provide a tailored approach to our press, publicity, junkets and red carpet work, with a carefully curated, exceptional roster of talented makeup artists, hairstylists and groomers who are specialists in this field.
What’s next for The Milton Agency?
Not only is MiltonRED a huge milestone for The Milton Agency, We are going to also be launching MiltonPRESENTS. This will be an unconventional series of master classes held in London, Los Angeles and New York. This will not only be The Milton agency artists, but also other artists who have a strong point of view in their skill set. Lots to tell, but a tad early to release any more information yet.
How many people work for the agency?
There are a total of ten of us across the two offices. In the US there are Daniella Milton — Founder/Agent US and Partner/Agent UK, Amanda El Ghoul — Executive Assistant to Daniella Milton, Debbie Sadlouskos — Financial Manager, Paulette Ely — Social Media, Rachel Sterns — Office Assistant. In the UK we have Mandi Martin — Agent/Partner UK, Jane Oginsky — Junior Agent/Assistant to Mandi Martin, Lindsey Briscoe — Finance Manager, Ami O’Callaghan – Office Admin/Social Media, Niki Wadden-Laing — Bookkeeper.
You represent some of the top talent in the industry, and so many have been celebrated with awards for their work. We thought it would be fun to end the interview by listing those accolades for our readers.
Okay, let’s do it — but I hope there’s room enough! And don’t forget that in addition to these wins, our talent have dozens of nominations as well. It’s really an honor to work with such master craftspersons.
Alessandro Bertolazzi Suicide Squade — Academy Award, Local 706 Guild Award; Il Testimone Dello Sposo – Premio Chioma di Berenice Award
Ana Lozano American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace –Emmy; 20 Centimetres — Málaga Film Festival
Audrey Doyle Taboo – RTS Craft and Design Award; BAFTA
Barrie Gower Game of Thrones – IATSE 706 Guild Awards,Emmy (seasons 4, 6 and 7)
Debbie Zoller A Star Is Born – IATSE 706 Guild Awards
Frances Hannon The Grand Budapest Hotel – Academy Award, 706 Guild Awards, British Academy of Film and Television Award; The Gathering Storm — British Academy of Film and Television Award; Singing Detective — Royal Television Society Award
Jennifer Lamphee Ladies In Black – AACTA Award
Joel Harlow Star Trek: Beyond — IATSE 706 Guild Award; Alice In Wonderland — Critics Choice; Star Trek — Academy Award, Saturn Award; Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl — IATSE 706 Guild Award; The Shining – Emmy; The Stand – Emmy
John E Jackson Frieda — Academy Award
Ken Diaz Star Trek: Next Generation – Emmy; Alien Nation – Emmy
Lois Burwell Braveheart — Academy Award
Maralyn Sherman Christmas, The Boy and the Piano – British Arrow Award; Jamie’s Return – British Arrow Award; BBC2 Idents – British Arrow Award; WH Smiths – British Arrow Award; Roll of Honour – British Arrow Award; Like Us – British Arrow Award; Naomi – British Arrow Award
Matthew W. Mungle Bram Stokers Dracula – Academy Award; John Adams – Emmy; State Of The Union – Emmy; Six Feet Under – Emmy; Door To Door – Emmy; The X Files – Emmy; Citizen Cohen – Emmy; Tracey Ullman In The Trailer – 706 Guild Award; And The Beat Goes On – IATSE 706 Guild Award
Morag Ross The Aviator — British Academy of Film and Television Award; Orlando – British Academy of Film and Television Award; Pinocchio – Diamanti al Cinema Award; Tutti I Santi Giorni – Film Festival di Spello Award
Nikki Gooley The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe — BAFTA, Saturn Award; Queen Of the Damned — ASMA Award
Patty York Alice in Wonderland – Critics Choice; The Patriot – IATSE 706 Guild Award
Paul Gooch Alice in Wonderland – British Academy of Film and Television; Sleepy Hollow — IATSE 706 Guild Award
Sarit Klien Green Book – TIFF Audience Award; Jessica Jones – NYWIFT; Nurse Jackie – NYWIFT
Shane Thomas Hacksaw Ridge – Hollywood Film Award
Trefor Proud Cocaine Godmother – IATSE 706 Guild Award; John Adams – Emmy; Underworld – Saturn Award; Topsy Turvy – Academy Award
Vincenzo Mastrantonio Penny Dreadful – BAFTA, Moulin Rouge – 706 Guild Award, British Arrow Award
Words Michael DeVellis
Photos and Award Listing Provided by The Milton Agency