Filmmaking / Directing : Do I need an Agent by David Millett

David Millett

Do I need an Agent

Hi all, I'm a director and producer of 5 films now. I'd like to work on other peoples projects. Do I have to have an agent to achieve this? If so who would you recommend?

Dan MaxXx

How much $$$ have you made previously and how much $$$ will you make in future? Agents & Managers work for $$$$. Professionals in Show Biz. Pros = $$$

David Millett

Thanks Dan. So the only way to break the catch 22 is to have a run-away indie-film success?

Dan MaxXx

Dunno. Do whatever you need to do to find work. Make $$$ and Agents will gladly take your calls.

Brad Rushing

There are Stage 32 webinars about getting an agent. You should check them out. Dan is right in that agents only become interested when there is an income worth taking 10% of. They are not in the business of building or developing careers. Sometimes managers will spend time developing a career - but not from the ground up. Like agents their interest is only piqued when there is already a successful career trajectory and lucrative income in place. And managers usually charge 15%. My experience as a cinematographer, and speaking with other below-the-line people with agents, as well as directors with agents, is that for the most part an agent will negotiate your deals. You can also use them to facilitate introductions and to reinforce your own efforts towards locking in a job. But for the most part they do not bring you clients or jobs. That is a popular myth and I don't know anyone who would say that impression is correct. With respect to your Catch 22 observation - yes - this business is incredibly hard work. It is fiercely competitive and overcrowded with aspiring talent. Your early years will be spent investing countless thankless hours, days, weeks and months developing your own career. There are many books and videos on how to do this - again see Stage 32's many wonderful webinars and classes for guidance. You will be pushing a bolder up a hill. And the bad news is, for most people, you never achieve equilibrium where your career attains momentum on its own. If you are talented enough, persistent and hard working enough and lucky enough eventually you will have some very good runs of success. But those tend to be punctuated with intermittent periods where you are right back to pushing that bolder up a hill again. And counterintuitively an agent and press and major successes and awards from your past will not supercharge your efforts. You find yourself right back in line with everyone else hustling for an opportunity. This is not an industry for the meek or lazy. You must apply yourself consistently, aggressively and cleverly. You must always be open to new ideas, to seeing the formulae for success in new ways and to evolving your methods and strategies based on new information and ideas. Hopefully you are up for the effort and challenge. I wish you great success!

Nelle Nelle

Hi David, you definitely don't need an agent to work on other people's projects. You can put yourself out there and find projects that are looking for directors. You are actually in the right place here on Stage 32. Reach out by doing just like you did and posting in the lounge also check out our jobs section. I have to agree with Brad when he talks about the hard work of this business (Catch 22 observation). I am in 100% agreement, couldn't have said it better myself. Get real and roll your sleeves up. To Brad's point, Stage 32 does have webinars that address this topic or at least the function of an agent. As the previous comments state, agents are looking to work with people who have traction ($$ on the horizon). But don't let that stop you at all. Let me guide you towards some education that may help. This webinar will give you an overview of how agencies operate and what they look for in clients. Very informative. Demystifying the Agency World (Morgan does go into an analysis of TV hierarchy but the wealth of knowledge is valuable) - This webinar may interest you as far as getting the knowledge of what an agent and/or manager does, while she is speaking to writers the information applies to creatives in general. You need a strong body of work to get a reputable agent. The Do's and Don'ts of Landing a Manager or Agent: Also, to clarify, managers usually only take 10%. The only time they take 15% is if you don't have an agent and you guys are discussing those finer points. But yeah there are people more knowledgeable than I on the subject. Good luck!

Tomasz Mieczkowski

Sage advice, JL. Lee Jessup knows her stuff.

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