Actor: I saw on IMDb that you only rep 100 clients and I like that you keep your roster small. I didn't see anyone like me.
Agent: Well, IMDb is not God. As much as you think they are, they don't know everything because I rep 300 clients. Why aren't they on IMDb you ask? Because I ask them to put themselves up and they are either too lazy, they don't have any credits, they don't want me to see they are being represented by another agent, or they are too cheap to pay IMDb to put up a profile. Also, bigger agencies don't really want you to see all the clients they rep as it will make your head spin when you see 20 other actors just like you so you see, don't always judge by what you see online. I might have someone that is in your category but I try to not have inner agency competition but I try to keep enough people on board to be able to submit thoroughly and to give casting a variety of looks. But please know, if I already had 5 girls/guys that looked like you, that you wouldn't be asked to interview because I wouldn't need you.
Actor: I've heard that some agents just get a bunch of people on their roster and see what works.
Agent: (Ugh-"I've heard") Well, perhaps some agents do that but I really don't see the point in that as it must annoy casting if they are just throwing anyone out there left and right. Most agents are trying to build their reputation with casting directors and they like to submit the best actors. I'd like to think most agents take the time to pick and choose the actors they really need so as not to waste anyone's time.
Actor: My last agent didn't really do anything for me.
Agent: Well, I have to answer this one with a few questions back at you. Do you say this because you didn't get many or even any, auditions? Did you ask your agent for a talent report to see if they were submitting you? If you didn't do this, then how would you know they weren't doing anything? Did you plant a camera in their office to see if they were submitting you and making pitch calls for you? Did you ask them what you could do to get more auditions? Did you do your job and get out and go to acting classes, netowork, and go to casting director workshops? Why on earth would an agent not do anything for you but still keep you on their roster? It just doesn't make sense. Your agent was working for you they just weren't getting the results you wanted. So the problem is actually you, not your agent. Nobody knows you and your agent was trying to get you into doors to casting directors that have lots of relationships with established actors. Yes, it's a catch 22. You can't get in certain doors without an agent and the agent can't get you in certain doors without casting knowing you. Never leave an agent who is submitting you like crazy but you can't get auditions. They believe in you and they have been working for free on your behalf. What you can do is change something. You can change your look, cut your hair, grow a beard, brand yourself, go to as many functions as you can to network and let your agent know you are doing your best. It's a team effort as m much as I hate to use the whole "team" thing but this is the exception. Going to another agency only loses momentum for you. You're starting out new and you'll be the actor known for agent hopping and agents figure this out real quickly. Lastly, get used to the fact that some people just have a great look or a magnetism, let's call it "star quality" about them and they get called in all the time because of it. Some people are very lucky and the other 90% have to work their butts off to get out. Some actors I just can't get out no matter what they do and sadly, many of these actors do everything right. Then there are other actors that just
Actor: Will you pitch me for roles?
Agent: Are you pitchable? Does casting know you so when I call them they will want to call you in over their friends and actors they already have relationships with? Actors write me all the time saying they found a role on their illegal Breakdowns and they are perfect for it. Why are you perfect? You have to give me more than it's just a great role that you would be good at. My most successful pitches are for roles that call for a single unique skill. Also, when I pitch I want casting to be able to Google you and see you all over the place. If you look nonexistent then you don't look like you're doing anything. Which might not be true but in the entertainment industry today, you've got to have something going on. So yes, I pitch when you are right for the role.
What relationships do you have with casting?
Agent: (Yawning...yes, I just did that) Who teaches you guys to ask all the same questions? Yes, by default by doing my job day in and day out, I have relationships with casting. The question is, what relationships do YOU have with casting? Will they see my submission of you and recognize you and call you in because they like your work? If not, you need to make it so they do. It's not about me and my relationships as much as it is about you and your relationships. I have actors that casting knows very well and they call them in and the role hasn't even been released. Try to be that actor.
Agent to Actor: Are you ready for an agent? Please ask yourself these questions. Why do you want an agent? Do you want an agent because you've been out there hitting the pavement for several years and you've built your resume to the point where you can't get to the next phase unless you have help? Have you had extensive training in all areas so you can be competitive when you walk in the door to a casting office? Have you done a lot of student films, independent films, shorts, commercials, etc. and you want to advance? Have you built a resume with a lot of great work and valuable skills? Is your resume worthy of advancing to the next level? Are you willing to free up your schedule and keep your days open for auditions? Do you have your finances in order to be able to have a flexible job and still be able to take classes, get new headshots, edit your reel, and spend money putting your photos up online? You have got to spend money to advance your career. If you aren't willing to spend $68 a year to subscribe to Actors Access so you can submit yourself and build your resume then you're going to have a hard time finding an agent that will take you seriously. If you have awful headshots and won't invest in a decent photographer, agent's don't want to work with you. If you don't see your worth and won't invest in yourself, why should you ask an agent to invest their time and effort in helping you in your career?
This is the section where we find out if we'll be a good fit. This saves everyone time if we're not. I don't call you in for an interview, you don't miss a day off work and it's all good.
I'm just going to do a Q&A here to answer the questions I get in every single interview. This will save us both a lot of time.
Actor: How do you like to communicate?
Agent: As little communication as possible once you are set up and everything with your accounts and profiles are perfect. I know you find this rather shocking but you're bugging me when you just "check in". How would you like it if I just called you to "check in" to make sure you're going to your acting classes and make sure you're not sitting around smoking weed all day and out partying every night? You do your job and prepare as an actor and let me do my job and try to procure work for you. Of course you can tell me when you're in a play, or you went to a casting director workshop or you met a producer at a party. Anything that helps me to market you better is a great way to keep our communication great.
Actor: What do you see my type as?
Agent: The type that books jobs! I know you don't like this answer either but it's true. If I typecast you as only the girl next door, the criminal, the stoner, the CEO, the bitch, that would be a pretty narrow window of opportunity to work with. Be open. Add a little variety of types you could play in your headshots. If I keep an open mind and submit you for anything that I see right for you, then your opportunities to get called in open up. I hear actors complain that their last agent submitted them for roles that weren't right for them yet they got called into audition. Really? Are you bitchin' about getting called into an audition that you don't feel you're right for? Get over it! EVERY role is right for you if you are on my roster. If I submit you for a role and based on the photo I submit, because that's all casting has to go on, they call you in. Don't you think that you are right for the role? I thought you were right for the role. Casting thought you were right for the role so you're shooting yourself in the foot by limiting yourself to not step out of your comfort level and expand as an actor. You might not be a soccer mom but if you look like one, chances are you're going to get called in for one! So, having said this, create an image for yourself, or brand yourself if you want to be pretentious, so you don't fit every genre! If you don't look like a bitch, I won't submit you for one. It's all so very simple.
Actor: I know you can't really answer this but do you have a general idea of how much you can get me out?
Agent: (Sigh) No. Nobody does. Anyone that says they can get you out a certain amount of times per week is just blowing smoke out their butt. And quite frankly, if I could tell you that, I'm in the wrong business and I should be reading reading palms for a living. There is no rhyme or reason why one person gets out over another. Some people get out several times a week, most actors get out a few times a month or even every few months depending on the actor. By the way, it's not your agent's fault that you're not getting out. It's yours. Stop blaming your agent for things they have no control over. I know, I know your agent is supposed to open doors for you but how can we open a door when casting doesn't know you?
Actor: Why should I pick you over the other agents I met with?
Agent: I can't answer that but you should just follow your instincts. Although I will say this. Picking an agent is no different that choosing to be in any other type of business relationship. Who do you like to buy a car from? Do you choose to buy from the guy at the swanky dealership who tells you everything you want to hear and you know he's just schmoozing you when he serves you cappuccinos and he puts you in a car out of your price range with a high interest rate all the while kissing your butt and making you feel like a king when he's really not doing you a favor? Or, do you prefer to buy a car from the little mom and pop car lot down the street because you happen to like the gal there because she tells you the truth of where you're at financially and what you really can afford, not what you want to afford and doesn't stick you in a car with huge payments? I'm saying I've got your back. I always work hard and I do what's best for my clients. Sometimes I nag and complain because I expect a lot but don't you want an agent that cares enough to even do that? My advice is pick an agent with a lot of clout who doesn't have 20 people like you and who makes one phone call and gets you in the door with casting. I'm not that agent yet. If you can't get that agent with the level you are at now, pick an agent who is at the level you are at and who really, really wants you because they see something in you that maybe nobody else does and they want to fight for you and most of all, they will work for FREE for you until you book.
Actor: I do extra work to pay the bills. Do you have a problem with that?
Agent: No, I don't have a problem as long as you have a calling service and you don't wait to confirm auditions I get for you because you're waiting to see if you get work for tomorrow as an extra. If you can make extra work not conflict with auditions or bookings I have for you then I don't have a problem with it but I'm really serious when I say I don't put up with actors waiting to confirm auditions with me becasue they are waiting to hear from their calling service. You need to drop everything and book out with your calling service the minute you get an audition with me because I am your first priority. Yes, you have to put food on your table but so do I. If you turn down auditions, you don't give me an opportunity to make money. I highly suggest you find another way to make ends meet if you want to have an agent because it is usually a problem at some point. This is the reason agents don't want you to do extra work. It has nothing to do with the crew seeing you on set and thinking you're a professional extra. This doesn't even make sense and also the "crew" doesn't cast you. Casting directors cast you.