Schmactors from Hell: The Agency Interview

Posted by Beverly Leech
Richard "RB" Botto Richard "RB" Botto

Today, another straight to the point, jab to the jaw by Stage 32 favorite, Beverly Leech. Relatable to any creative...

Hope you all have a fun and productive weekend.

RB

Excerpt from Actor Muscle: Craft. Grit Wit. A Professional Guide to the Business of Acting:

  1. "THE ONLY REAL ACTORS ARE FROM NEW YORK"

    ONCE UPON A TIME there was a New York stage Actor who was getting fantastic notices when his play traveled to Los Angeles. A very good Agent (we'll call him A+) was keen to represent him after seeing his remarkable performance. Since signing a new client needs unanimous agreement among all the agents, A+ arranged a big meeting so that the Actor could meet the whole company. The Agent was certain his colleagues would be enthusiastic about his discovery. The Actor arrived in board shorts and flip flops, "California" style. Even his shirt was stained and wrinkled. When asked why he was dressed so badly, the New Yorker said he'd heard that California was more laid back and he didn't have time to launder his clothes. Needless to say, the entire Agency was deeply offended by his lack of respect, and his "Point Man" in the Agency, was embarrassed and angry.

    In an Agent's mind, you are also representing the Agency every time you walk into a casting or production office. They have to be able to trust that you will know how to dress appropriately for the interview. If that Actor didn't have the common sense and respect to dress for a basic business meeting, regardless of the coastline, he couldn't be trusted to be appropriate in a casting session either. They kicked him to the curb.

    The moral of this story is: Dress in upscale casual or business attire for Agency Meetings, and never underestimate the professionalism of the West Coast. Most Industry there are ex-pats from the East Coast.

  2. "MR. PRETTY"

    ONCE UPON A TIME there was a gorgeous, funny, and deeply talented new face to the Los Angeles scene, fresh out of acting school. Agents were clamoring to represent him and Mr. Pretty eventually signed with a very good boutique. The flaw in this Actor was that he considered himself an "Artiste," an edgy renegade, free from the bondage of the Hollywood machine. He would not check his email and messages for days at a time, and failed to show at several auditions. He also did not leave "book out" dates when he decided to leave town for a couple of weeks, resulting in more appointments missed. Every time he'd failed to show at an audition, the Casting Director got upset and called the Agent, then another Casting Director, and another. The Agency gave a strong and stern first warning, but also gave him the benefit of the doubt because he was young and green, and they figured if they spelled it out, he'd mend his ways. "You have to book out when you leave town. You have to check your messages every day. And either pass or confirm your appointments - if you can't make it, then Casting can give your time slot to another deserving actor." Although the dress down offended his mustang spirit, Mr. Pretty agreed to follow their advice and went home. The following week, he left town without booking out. They fired him.

    "So What!? Eff you!" railed the Actor. "You can't push me around. I'm gorgeous, funny, and deeply talented." Confident the ex-Agent "had a problem," Mr. Pretty went looking for a new Agent. His past then bit him in the backside. You can guess what was said when the prospective Agent called Casting for a recommendation. Actors can't get signed if they've burned that many bridges.

    The Moral(s) of this story are: 1. Check your email and telephone daily. 2. Always confirm or pass an appointment. 3. Notify your agents with "book outs" if you leave town. 4. Trust is earned, not given.

  3. "METHOD, NOT MADNESS"

    ONCE UPON A TIME I went to visit my agents. I was shocked to find the entire office wrecked and disheveled - broken vases, pictures knocked off the walls, chairs upturned. "Oh My God! Did you get robbed?!" Heavy with anger, my Agent growled, "No. Actors!" Apparently the Agency was interviewing a new Actor (very "real," very "method," very "exciting") and asked him to come back with a two person scene. The Actor returned the following week with a dramatic fight scene - enacted for "real," full out, and literally trashed the entire space. One of the agents had to duck under his desk. (Sigh). We can guess the rest.

    The Moral: Risk and innovation is always exciting, property damage is illegal.

    If you can't control your instrument at a basic meeting, they can't trust you in an audition room and they certainly won't trust you on a set. Think these kinds of brash choices through. Would you take such liberties on hot set? Would you break a desk or a vase that's already been established in masters and previous takes? Destruction is planned to the penny on a set with breakaway chairs and stunt men. You'll make a mortal enemy of the design team and Show Runner, if you stop production and jack their budget, while they scramble to find the exact replacement. Why face exile and unemployment from a bad reputation? Accidents happen, sure - but the above was more about the unchecked ego. Hard to believe that I have to tell this story, but it happens more than you think. Hire a fight coordinator if you can't live without your brawl, and only use about a five to ten foot radius within the office. Or, here's a thought - simply choose a different scene. Technique is there to illuminate, not decimate, the human experience.


As always, Bev is available for questions and remarks in the Comments section below.

 
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