Agent vs Spotlight

  • Julia Cornish

    Actor

    Just wondering how many fall on either side of this argument. If you find that your agent is doing nothing for you and are planning on finding a new one, should you take them off Spotlight so that while you are seeking new representation (which can take some time) you will at least be getting the Spotlight breakdowns sent to you rather than the agent who doesn't

    • 17th Sep 2008
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  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    I'd say keep the agents details listed until such time as you are ready to move on. There are two reasons for this:

    1. You will be able to show another agent or agency that you are already represented when you apply to join them, and this can often go in your favour. If you have made sure that your own agent is aware that you are looking for new representation (or are, at the very least, disatisfied with what they are achieving for you), then there is no problem in declaring that you are already represented to another agent. Most times, it will go in your favour, because a new agent likes to see that someone is a 'prospect', and that is implied more strongly through having had prior representation. The question might be asked why are you seeking for new representation, if you are already represented (and it will have to be ultimately admitted, you aren't selling). But, if you work regularly off your own bat, most agents will assume that what is failing to sell you is your current agent's behaviour, rather than any personal limitations. So, declaring that you have a previous agent you wish to move on from should never stand in your way. Generally, the industry holds it is *always* better to declare you are represented than that you are not.

    2. Frankly, the breakdowns that Spotlight sends out to subscribers are not worth the e-paper they are written on, 99% of the time. I think most CCP users would agree with this. There is a very simple reason, and it is that, although Spotlight would like you to think they are offering a magnificent service by letting you have access to these breakdowns, they are, in fact, very limited in their scope. When a casting director issues a breakdown via the Spotlight Link, they are allowed a three tier option as to how it should be distributed: they can send it only to a very select network of agents, they can send it to all agents registered on the system, or they can release it as an 'open' breakdown to all users (agents and actors) on the system. As you will appreciate, this means that any 'open' breakdowns sent out are being made available to thousands of people (which is a lot of competition should you wish to apply for a part). But, more importantly, most casting directors worth their salt do not want to have to deal with thousands upon thousands of applications for parts they can cast more selectively. Therefore, it must be asked, why would you as a casting director release an 'open' casting call if you could avoid it? The answer is: you wouldn't, and you don't. The vast majority of 'open' calls that appear to Spotlight's actor subscribers are, because of this, only those which cannot be easily cast in any other way. They will be asking for pre-pubescent children, 20 stone Japanese men, those who have trained in Tae Kwon Do to professional level standard, native speakers of Pathan dialects, harp players etc. etc. because these parts are needed and are simply not castable through conventional means. Yes, there may be the odd exception that slips the net, but it's rare. There was, in fact, a whole (admitedly comical) CCP thread about this that someone might be able to flag up for you not so long ago.

    In short, I'd say stick with your agency details until such time as you either can switch them for the details of a new agent, or your current agent forces you to revert to 'care of Spotlight' by taking you off the books! Work applications through on-line sites, PCR etc. are far more likely to secure you some actual work, in the meantime.

    • 10th Sep 2008
    • 1
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    I always find it frustrating not to know what exactly my agent has put me up for. Of course I'm sure that it is everything for which I'm suitable but would welcome a weekly breakdown from Spotlight as to what she has put me up for. In these days of computer technolgy that has to be possible. I think that is it something we should be pressuring Spotlight to provide. Of course I'm sure agents would provide a reason why they should not provide this information but then we have to remember who exactly is employing who here....

    • 10th Sep 2008
    • 2
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    My agents will provide a list of everything they've submitted me for if I ask for it - and sometimes when I haven't! And not every job comes through Spotlight. BUT - for some reason only known to CD's, it looks better on your Spotlight page if you are represented by someone. And Spotlight change your details on their database immediately if you do change agents, so new castings can still go to the right place.

    • 10th Sep 2008
    • 3
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Little bit worried now after reading all your blogs. I have sent a letter to my agent today to terminate my contract with them. Reason being I have had lots of auditions over the last few months none of which have been through my agent who I signed with 3 months ago.

    You probably think I am being a bit hasty. However even though they were against my name on Spotlight I still had casting directors etc calling me direct. One big director called them once to arrange an audition and they didn't answer - they didn't even have voicemail. I got annoyed because I felt they were missing valuble castings, calls etc. It was also a bit embarrassing that a director pitied me and had to bring their incompetence to my attention. Also they relied on Spotlight and Spotlight alone. I don't think an agent should do that. They should have access to industry info that I don't and be looking at various avenues to get me castings just as I do myself.

    At auditions I am often asked if I have representation. Reason being is because I got the casting myself they are unsure. Which also tells me that most of the people I have had castings with have not been checking out spotlight to see who I'm represented by. So its obviously not that important to potential employers. I have also spoke to various casting directors etc and again they have said the same if they see your picture - then your CV - If they want to see you they will regardless of who your agent is.

    If you are not happy with your agent as I was why get well payed work to give them a cut when they can't even be bothered to talk when you call them for updates etc.

    It is a hard decision to make but i'm positive it will only be a matter of time till you/I get a good one.

    • 10th Sep 2008
    • 4
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Emily - sounds to me like you've done the right thing! YOur agents didn't sound too hot. Put it down to experience - now you know what NOT to expect from an agent, and when - and I'm sure it won't be long - you are offered representation by another agent, you will be able to ask some definitive questions based on your experience, and make a considered decision as to whether they are right for you. And never forget - your agent works for you, not vice versa! Good luck...

    • 10th Sep 2008
    • 5
  • User Deleted

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    Thanks Samantha for you positive response!

    • 10th Sep 2008
    • 6
  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    Interesting posts. Ashley, I agree with you, basically. Unless an agent is, in fact, a work shy shyster who never actually puts his/her clients up for anything, takes a cut from any work they get for themselves, and would be 'found out' were the total lack of an application history to be revealed, there is no reason why an agent should refuse to tell a client what they put them up for on principle. However, totally reputable agents do take different approaches towards client accountability. Some (like my current agent) believe it is so important that they will write a clause into a contract that, whenever the client asks for it, they should be prepared to list everything they have applied for on their behalf over the last month, for instance. Others, who are no less hard - working, don't wish to do this, because they consider that it wastes time that would be better spent on other tasks, and that any application which is successful will be taken forward, anyway, with the remainder (the ones you didn't know about) being of no consequence to you. I think it can still be useful, however, for you, the client, to know something about what has been applied for various reasons: so you don't duplicate efforts accidentally, so that you can keep a record of Casting Directors who may have seen your profile, so you can feedback to the agent about whether they are selling you to best advantage or not. Maybe Spotlight *should* provide the service you are talking about, because it would save agents the time of sending their own clients the information...but I suspect it would cost Spotlight money to institute, and some agents wouldn't like the idea!

    Emily. I wouldn't read *too* much into the fact that some people at castings don't appear to know whether you're represented or not. This may have more to do with the fact that they are frequently hirelings of one sort or another who have been seconded to see you into the audition room/ fill out your statistics etc. and have no connection to the casting director, director etc. than that no-one has checked the details. True, if it was the director asking these questions, then it may be another issue!

    Still, as regards dropping your agent, I thoroughly support you. If they are inaccessible, that's bad enough (there is no way they can hope to orchestrate your career effectively without maintaining regular contact with you, and following your progress). But if they are actually taking their cut on the basis of what you find for yourself (not in itself unusual, of course) and *also* refusing to ever speak to you, then they are clearly just in the game to make money from you, and should be dropped as quickly as possible. The real problem is that many agents nowadays are setting up, knowing there is a ready market of actors to 'sell', but with no contacts of their own/no experience of the agenting business. Their desire: to do as little as possible for their own clients whilst creaming off any profits that come from the work the client does themselves. Naturally, a lot of these so-called agents bankrupt themselves within a year or two, but they make what money they can in the meantime. Any good agent will want to have regular access to you personally (will come and see you perform if they can, arrange personal meet ups and informal chats, keep in regular e-mail or phone contact), and will, in many cases, be ready to draw up a contract for you stating this at the outset. But then, they know that the only serious way to benefit both parties is to work hard at the job of selling your specific skills. It's only those who are not really serious about the idea of 'representing' a client who refuse to make themselves available, and siphon money from you at the same time!

    • 10th Sep 2008
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  • Julia Cornish

    Actor

    Great, thanks for all your comments guys :-)

    • 16th Sep 2008
    • 8
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Hi all, I am a Scottish based agent and have been reading with interest the debate about Spotlight suggestions. I can confirm that all agents on Spotlight have the facility to print out breakdown of all roles they have submitted any particular for. This is extremely simple for the agent and takes less than 30 seconds to do. Therefore I would suggest that if your agent refuses to supply you with this information, it may be that they have submitted you for very little. Obviously this may be due to the fact that you have not been suitable for any roles, but it is certainly something I would discuss with your agent.

    Hope this may be of some help

    Lee Bisset

    • 16th Sep 2008
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  • Monty Burgess

    Actor

    Hi Lee,

    Thanks for that very useful bit of info, great to have the contribution of an agent on here.

    • 16th Sep 2008
    • 10
  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    Yep. It's a good point: my current agent is kind enough to let me (and his other clients) see the Spotlight breakdowns page of submissions, and it is clearly always easily available, and as Lee suggests, easy to print out, and/or e-mail out to recipients.

    However, as I alluded to in my last post, it seems to me perfectly possible that there are agents out there who do not believe in the idea of making themselves 'accountable' to their clients over every application. My old agent (who is of no small repute) was one who did not believe in this method because, as she would put it, 'she'd let you know if there was anything to know,' - i.e. only the significant applications counted, and you would learn what they were when you were asked to audition on the basis of them -the ones that never went anywere were not worth bothering your head about. In a way, she had a valid point. But, as I said last post, I think it natural that an actor would like to have an insight into what their agent is putting them up for!

    I agree it doesn't take long to print off a sample of applications on an actor's behalf, but it might take a rather longer time to print off the applications for 50 separate clients. But the point is really this: if an agent (like my old representative) is of the opinion that knowledge of 'useless' applications is essentially worthless in the first instance, then they are not going to want to bother themselves with letting their clients know these details.

    This is not, admittedly, the way I prefer to have my affairs conducted - I welcome access to knowledge of whatever sort, and prefer the system my new agent operates under...but I can see the defensible point of view on the other side of the argument.

    Still, there are undoubtedly shyster agents out there as well. Another of the points I perhaps garbled last time is that an agent who is useless at applying for jobs, and never garners any money from their so-called 'representation' thereby, may be a colossal hindrance, but is hardly to be considered manipulative - after all, they bankrupt themselves because as long as you don't work, they don't earn.

    The real menace is the agent who gets the client no gigs, but takes large cuts from any work they have obtained themselves - they are effectively living off the clients' earnings, without producing anything in return.

    • 16th Sep 2008
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  • Paul Newbery

    Actor

    Hello Julia,

    If you were absolutely sure they were doing nothing for you then i would opt for the Spotlight service because of a couple of reasons.I completely agree with Lee that it looks better to a prospective agent if you have been already been represented but you can just explain that in the letter/email to them.All you have to do is print out a copy of your spotlight page as a hard copy and keep it.Will they ask to see it??? The cross over is hard enough if you want to change agents,no actor wants to discuss what/why/if something went wrong with their previous agent,we know it's not the right thing to do.The only thing we do know is that we're not gelling for whatever reasons,it happens and is happening all the time,everyone knows that often a "relationship" doesn't work out so you could point out IF it came up with complete honesty that you are getting the link purely to remain as proactive as you possibly can.Surely with us having to be on the ball as much as we can in this profession this would indicate a proactive,positive person to another agent and someone worth working with.

    Yes it's true that the majority of the submissions are for flying mongolian crisp eaters etc BUT not all of them are.Now i can only speak from experience when i was about 3/4 weeks on the link and it maybe because of where im based but i did see some very nice castings come through and if that opens up a slight chance of opportunity then its still opportunity more than someone who you're sure is not submitting you for it or have a very good idea.I'm not sure about the ratio of how quickly you submit/how quickly they look at you with Spotlight but whatever way at least you get a submission in.Now whether it raises your chance of actually been seen if representation is down is arguable but then why has the brief been sent to "all" and not just "all agents",surely it's a case of if they like you they'll ask you to audition.

    Keep proactive not inactive but only if you're sure it's not working out and any formalities.

    • 17th Sep 2008
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  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Thanks Lee that is really interesting.

    Great to hear that the facility I mentioned already exists as we can now all request that info from our agents happy in the knowledge that it only takes them 30 seconds. Of course it would still be useful if Spotlight could arrange for us to collect the information ourselves...

    • 17th Sep 2008
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  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    I think another reason why some companies will send out breakdowns to those without representation is that they may be hoping to get the performers' services cheaper than were they having to go through agents. They know that arguing with an agent might force them to alter contractual obligations. That's not to suggest that most of them are paying below Equity etc., but it may be a way of sidestepping paying for residuals etc. even when the end quality of the work to be produced is quite impressive, and the company concerned has a strong reputation and a big budget!

    • 17th Sep 2008
    • 14