Blake Friedmann Agency, founded in 1983 by Carole Blake and Julian Friedmann, has announced a roster of appointments intended to pave the way to the future. These moves were decided before Carole Blake’s death in October 2016, but the agency has waited until now to announce them.
Julian Friedmann will become Chairman of the Company and continue on the board, Isobel Dixon will go forward as Head of the Book Department and Conrad Williams becomes Head of the Media Department. The agency’s Head of Rights, Louise Brice, returns from parental leave in May and will step up to the board later in the year. Dixon is also joined in the Book Department by Juliet Pickering as Vice Head of the Book Department.
In the Finance Department, Daisy Way has recently returned to Blake Friedmann (where she was formerly Royalties and Contracts Associate), to take up the new role of Joint Finance Manager. Samuel Hodder, who joined the company two years ago as Royalties and Contracts Associate, will step up to Joint Finance Manager alongside Daisy, while continuing in a Contracts role as well.
‘When Carole and I merged our agencies over thirty years ago,’ said Friedmann, ‘we had two other members of staff and around forty clients between us. The agency now has fifteen members of staff and more than three hundred clients. The agency is well placed for the future, and Isobel, Conrad, Louise, Juliet and I will be working closely with the whole team to make it as fulfilling and dynamic as possible for our clients and colleagues. I know Carole would be very proud of them all.’
‘I’ve already had more than twenty happy years working with Julian, Conrad and Carole,’ Dixon said, ‘and though we all miss Carole greatly, we feel her spirit and enthusiasm in everything that we do here. She left us a rich legacy which we feel honoured to continue. The book department has an even wider range of clients and projects now that Juliet Pickering, Tom Witcomb and Hattie Grűnewald are building and consolidating their own lists and we are excited about sharing our authors’ great writing and helping them to thrive. I look forward to the adventures that lie ahead.’
Conrad Williams said: ‘The international boom in the book-into-film-and-TV market makes this the most exciting time to be a film and TV agent in the heart of a dynamic literary agency. The joint is jumping and our well harmonised team will make the most of it for all our clients – be they scriptwriters, playwrights, directors or authors.’
‘Carole added a quote to a press release draft before she died,’ said Friedmann, ‘and I’d like to share some of her words now. “We have a fantastic team,” wrote Carole “with some very established colleagues, gifted younger agents, a talented foreign rights department and strong support all round. The time seems ripe to put the management of the agency on a forward footing. Blake Friedmann Agency is a company with an exciting future and these changes reflect our commitment to our colleagues and that future.”’
With the future of not just the agency, but the wider industry in mind, in November 2016 the company set up the Carole Blake Open Doors Project, a programme specifically aimed at encouraging candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds to enter the publishing industry. The response to the 31 December deadline for applications was so strong that instead of placing just one candidate in the first half of 2017, the agency has appointed one candidate to a full three-month paid internship, and with the support of the Book Trade Charity (BTBS) for accommodation, has awarded two places instead of one for their inaugural shadowing project in 2017. More details will follow in due course.