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How This ICM Agent Makes It Through the Festival Circuit in Work and in Life

She also shares the three books that changed her life.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Kristen Konvitz: Squint, hit snooze and remind myself to buy blinds for the millionth time because my bedroom is practically a tanning bed inside a solarium. I moved to LA from NYC seven months ago and I still haven’t adjusted to the bright sun! I then pour a cup of cold brew and walk my 8-year-old pug, Frankie, up Beachwood Canyon while I check my emails and read industry trade alerts.

TG: What gives you energy?
KK: Most people who know me will attest that I have an incredible amount of natural energy. I will not deny that I have been called an “animal” on a few occasions. You definitely do not want to go on a beach vacation with me. But then there’s also caffeine. The process of drinking coffee is my ultimate energizer but also my moment of Zen.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
KK: When you have a high intensity job in a creative industry, it gets very easy to get caught in your bubble. In my case, its Hollywood. So, when I travel, I usually pick destinations that are the complete opposite to make sure I maintain a grip on reality. I recently traveled to Sri Lanka and Kerala, India and stayed in guest houses run by locals. I hiked the Inca Trail in Peru for 5 days to Machu Picchu sleeping outside in the mountains. And in a few weeks, I’ll be heading to the desert in Morocco.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
KK: There is not one, but rather three books I can pinpoint as having a monumental impact on my life. Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five was the first time I realized there were books beyond English class syllabi. Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast made me realize I had to move to New York (despite taking place in Paris). And Peter Biskind’s Down & Dirty Pictures catapulted me into this crazy world of Independent film.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
KK: Unfortunately, yes. It has its own pillow. We spoon sometimes…In all seriousness, it serves as my alarm clock and I should probably change that since the ringtone now haunts my dreams.

TG: How do you deal with email?
KK: Queen of archiving over here! It is not unusual at an agency to receive between 200 and 500 emails a day. All are important but not necessarily relevant to my day to day. I try to skim them all but for the most part, if it is not related to independent film, it’s getting relegated to the archive.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
KK: I’ll check in with my friends in Europe and New York. But for the most part, I am usually researching upcoming concerts, new restaurants I hear about or watching movie trailers. (This sentence just summed me up in a nutshell, I think)

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
KK: Our group has a very extensive festival and travel schedule. So, when we finish with a major festival (i.e. Sundance or Toronto), the adrenaline has worn off and after 8-10 days of working around the clock there is a degree of burnout. We even have a “festival sickness” but we are always in a state of ramping up or recovery. It’s a part of the job.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
KK: In our field, there is always rejection and failure. Films you fight for that go to competitors. Films you champion that can’t get into a festival or find a distributor. Filmmakers that fire us. Ultimately, the only way to overcome is to know that you if you put in the work and tried your best, you cannot take it personally. Failure is just a part of a competitive industry.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
KK: “Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more.” Oscar Wilde

I always felt this quote exemplified how I like to life – always learning, always trying to be better and always trying to improve in all aspects of myself. I also just think Oscar Wilde was a geniune bad ass.

Kristen Konvitz is an agent in the International and Independent film group at ICM Partners. She was most recently the head of production for New York-based film fund and production company, Stay Gold Features. Its first film was Sundance breakout, Patti Cake$ which sold in an all-night bidding war to Fox Searchlight. Other productions include David Robert Mitchell’s upcoming Under the Silver Lake and SXSW award winner, The Strange Ones.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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