Acting : Advice About Agents by Steve SilverCat Chaney Scsnn

It's Introduce Yourself Weekend on Stage 32! Who are you? What have you been working on? We want to know! Head over to the Introduce Yourself Lounge and network with your fellow creatives - you never know when you'll make a connection that will change your career!

Steve SilverCat Chaney Scsnn

Advice About Agents

I would like to get some feedback from the community on the pros and cons of having an agent to get the inside track on various film, tv, and commercial projects. What is the purpose of even having one? Is it a good idea to have an agent and is there any benefits to having one as opposed to not? Casting Directors and Directors are you more likely to look at an actor who has an agent more so than a freelancer? Is having an agent important or unnecessary? I ask this because a fellow actor friend of mine managed to get signed up with an agent and the projects he got involved in seemed to explode. I use various sources of casting info to find out about projects but don't seem to be getting the results that my friend has since he got in with a talent agency.

Sara Dee

Just for the record, I certainly get the impression having a talent agent in the UK is widely different than having one in the US. Here in the UK the job postings do not have to be made public so a lot can be discreetly shared only among selected agents to avoid sacks of mail with potential applicants arriving on casting directors desks. It seems to be almost illegal to keep jobs under wraps like this in the US but I may be wrong. If I'm not, then you've got a fairer chance of securing work without an agent representing you. In the UK not having an agent seems likely to limit your opportunities. Again, speculation with evidence to support the theory.

Matthew Cornwell

Speaking from the US: YES you need an agent if you want to make this a full-time, professional career. If you want to end up on Network or Cable TV, or in a studio-produced movie, then you will need an agent. Those projects almost never solicit submissions from actors without representation, unless they're looking for something very specific. For instance, right now there is a nationwide (possibly worldwide) search for Mowgli in the live version of The Jungle Book. But for the VAST majority of full-budget productions, the casting directors are looking for the best actors, and agents help to ensure that only talented, experienced actors are presented for the roles. Now for extra work, non-union films, student films, some commercials and industrials, you could spend a lot of time and effort building up relationships, scouring the internet, and getting leads from friends in order to get work. And in the beginning of your career, that's what you SHOULD be doing to build up a resume. Once your ready for representation, the agent streamlines a lot of that effort (not all the effort) by seeking opportunities for you. Believe me, a good agent is well worth the 10% commission. Unless you have an MBA and are very business-savvy (most creatives aren't), then having them handle contracts is alone worth the 10%. In short, the hobbyist actor doesn't need an agent, but the serious professional needs someone on their team to get them those bigger opportunities...

L C Tom Fry

hey guys have just added your conversation to Twitter and Facebook friends/followers for their opinions hope u get responses

Matthew Cornwell

Based on Alle's comments, it sounds like Australia might be different than the US. In the US, we definitely have scam agents that ask for money, push their photographer on you, and even offer classes. But there are MANY legit agents in each market (LA, NY, Atlanta, NOLA, etc) that will NEVER ask for up-front money, or make you pay for any other ancillary services. They work for YOU. They only get paid if you get paid. And if an established producer or Casting Director is moving forward on a project, they know which agents are the best, and will solicit submissions from them. If an agent acted the way Alle described (submitting tons of actors not right for the role), the CD would just stop working with that agency. In other words, there are checks and balances that keep the system running fairly smoothly. It's not a perfect system, of course.

Ciara Sherry

I don't have an agent, but what I find is that people with agents are more likely to get work because they find out about it through their agents. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places, but it's almost impossible for me to find castings for paid work anywhere in the UK!

Matthew Cornwell

And think about it from a business standpoint. If you're a Casting Director, how do you streamline your process to find talented, professional actors? If you advertised to the public, you would spend most of your time just trying to sort out all the submissions. And a lot of those submissions would be a waste of your time. Agents give the CDs comfort, because they develop relationships with them, and trust their judgment in sending actors who are right for the breakdown. Be glad this business is so hard. Since there is no barrier for entry, anyone can call themselves an actor. Navigating all the obstacles of this business (and there are a ton of them) helps to weed out the hobbyist actors.

Dave McCrea

Trust me having an agent is everything to an actor. Without an agent it's like you don't even exist.

Benjamin Alany

The main reasons are: as others have mentioned, we see maybe 25% of the listings out there, the other 75% are seen by agents/managers. Also, CDs these days have largely grown accustomed to dealing with actors via agents, and don't like dealing individually with freelancers as much (the explanation I was given when I asked the question at a panel of CDs was that they'd rather contact one source that can give them an entire list of actors, rather than contact the actors one at a time). They also consider having an agent to be a "vetting" process of sorts, meaning it's a sign to them that you are a professional. That's not to say that you are unprofessional if you don't have an agent, I have seen many unprofessional actors who are signed with agencies, but that's just the way the CDs tend to think about it, from what I can tell. Individuals may vary, of course. I am just talking about the general school of thought involved.

Stephen Foster

I've booked more work via networking on stage 32 than I did with my agent. my agent didn't have a clue as to my real talent.

Manuel Joaquin Santiago

It seems to be a mixed bag. I have an agent and manager and they have gotten me a couple of auditions. My mom, on the other hand, has gotten more auditions for me through actors access and backstage (she works really hard to help my career) and I've booked them. It seems that an actor needs to have a top legit agent that has access to the top listings and that have strong relationships with casting directors and producers. I'm working on it!

Ron Cooper

Steve, That is a good question. There has been some great info offered by the folks here. I guess, I will put in my two cents. I have been an actor with and without an agent. I believe you can get as much work as you are willing to find. If you have the time and enjoy searching for work, then YES you can go without an agent. If you are like most actors your time is filled with life. You don't have the time for all of the research required and you need to rely on someone that can represent you. But, keep in mind there are good and bad agents. That is why we created our talent management company, because most actors just want to act, they do not always no where to turn. We don't get them gigs, but we do work with agents and help manage the career of the actor so they can concentrate on what they do best ACT.

West Ramsey

I continue to find and get referred to projects on my own but my agent can submit me for the big feature films and television shows being shot here. Got rid of one that didn't work and excited to be working with a new one.

Benjamin Alany

Very cool, West, and a good point. If you don't mind my asking, who are you with now? I'm always interested in knowing more about agencies in different markets.

West Ramsey

I'm signed with Take 2. They handle quite a few actors that I know in Portland and are getting folks auditions on Grimm, Portlandia and other big projects in the area. How about you? I'm interested as well. Just based here and hoping to travel for projects.

Benjamin Alany

Cool, Grimm definitely seems like a fun show. I don't have a rep here in Austin yet myself, but I have gathered a fair bit of info via web research, industry events, talking to peers, etc., so feel free to let me know if you have questions about them in particular. Some are larger agencies, others are described more as "boutique" agencies with smaller rosters and more personal attention, for example. I think the oldest agency in town here is called Actors Clearing House, definitely one of the big ones. Acclaim seems to have a sizable roster as well, though not as high in tier perhaps. There are a fair number here it seems.

West Ramsey

It is. I've been watching it and am currently halfway through Season 3. Would love to be on the show. Sounds similar there as to here. There are a number of agencies and some "boutique" as well. Would love to find an agent that can represent me in multiple cities. Are you having any luck getting work on your own?

Benjamin Alany

I get the occasional audition, but it tends to be mostly for unpaid or low pay indie projects, the agencies have the major projects locked down, those of us on the outside don't see them unless they have trouble finding talent for a particular role. I booked a gig shooting in September for an indie feature that should be fun (supporting role), but for the most part it is slim. Got scheduled for a callback on a national commercial once (Miracle Whip), but it was canceled citing a change in "creative direction". It happens. Still plugging away though. A lot of repped local talent say that they tend to get sent to Louisiana or Atlanta when they do book gigs via their agencies, not as much here.

West Ramsey

Sounds pretty typical. I've worked on a bunch of indie projects and other projects....mainly to meet people in the local industry. I've gotten some paid. Congrats on the indie feature! I recently booked one for the fall as well. Would love to work in Louisiana or Atlanta at some point. Definitely a difficult business but I love it! Wishing you the best! Keep us posted.

Benjamin Alany

Thanks West, good luck to you as well, and congrats on your upcoming project.

Sara Dee

Alle thanks for your detailed accounts about the business and how you operate within it. Certainly in the UK I can say with confidence that we have a lot of agents that are reputable and take you on for your talent not your money. I'm in an enviable position to have a sit-com pilot, two indie features, a short and a third 'devised by cast' feature snapping at my heels. I have two contracts to wade through. My previous agent died suddenly and I am biding my time to get a replacement after re-training with three coaches I have selected. I do feel sometimes, that for all my networking and ability to find my own auditions and collect contacts that develop a relationship with me and go on to be successful, having an agent still gets me through the glass wall to better paid, more respected work. I wish I could attend your workshops and classes Alle, the handle you have on the business and the experience you've had with actors convinces me you know talent when you see it and that is a vital barometer for any actor. All the best out there !

Other topics in Acting:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In