birchbergeEXCLUSIVE: Three months after APA launched a Physical Production department with the hire of Paradigm agents Jay Gilbert and Gil Harari, the agency is expanding the department in a big way by bringing in virtually the entire staff of the Montana Artists Agency, whose sole focus is representing below-the-line talent. Montana toppers Matt Birch and Ralph Berge will serve as SVP and co-heads of APA’s physical production department gilbertharatialongside Gilbert and Harari. Coming with them from Montana are VP Brady Torgeson, agent Julian Savodivker, agent Amanda Pecora-Sutphen, and business affairs executive Larry Sheffield. While this is not an agency acquisition, it is unclear what the future holds for Montana, whose staff has been gutted by the exodus to APA, with only two agents remaining, Karen Berch (TV & features) and Nick Malkin (commercials). “I could not be more pleased to have Matt, Ralph and their team join our new Physical Production division launched earlier this year with Jay and Gil,”said APA president and CEO, Jim Gosnell. “These new hires make our division one of the largest of its kind in the industry, where we now represent some of the successful names in below-the-line feature and television production worldwide.” Montana’s clients include Matthew Jensen, Director of Photography for The Fantastic Four,  Paul Harb, editor for The Expendables 3, Denise Pazzini, production designer for Fox pilot Fatrick and Chrisi Karvonides-Dushenko, costume designer for Fox series Hieroglyph.

Birch served as president of Montana Artists Agency since 2009. Before that, he was SVP of physical production at Endgame Entertainment where he oversaw production of The Brothers Bloom. He previously served as production supervisor on such movies as Mission Impossible III, The Italian Job, Constantine and Transformers. Berge served as SVP and head of television at Montana Artists since 2009. Prior to that, Berge was SVP of production at CBS Studios, where he oversaw all aspects of production for TV movies, series and pilots. Before that, he served as VP of production at Paramount, overseeing production on drama series, pilots and over 75 movies, including Judas, A Separate Peace, and Bobbie’s Girl; and as VP of Turner Pictures Theatrical, where he oversaw production on Michael, Fallen, Edwards & Hunt and Gettysburg.