Choosing an agent | there's too many!

  • Scott Jamie Allen

    Actor

    Hello.

    I have not idea what agency to go for. I am not really based anywhere at the moment.

    could anybody reccomend any good ones? I have looked on open books but that has just made it harder.

    Thanks

    Scott Alexander

    • 16th Mar 2010
    • 3362
    • 14
  • Jenna Sharpe

    Actor

    Hi Scott.

    Well yes, the first choice is to decide where you want to be based and then go from there. You don't really get to single out an agent you really want, you will probably have to write to many before you get accepted.

    Your headshot is great and it looks like you have some useful skills but to me it looks like 80% of your resume is performances you did as part of your BA degree, which will generally not be considered professional credits. Alice in Wonderland is obviously a great credit to have, but was this as an extra or supporting artist? The consensus is you leave extra work off your resume but featured extra work might go on there, I'm not sure.

    Remember you are up against many talented actors who are struggling to find agents and who have more experience than you. As an agent I would want to see a stronger resume and more credits or evidence that you can handle auditions and the wide variety of jobs and casting briefs they get.

    I didn't go to drama school so I don't know what they teach you in terms of navigating the industry and pursuing acting professionally... My view, (based on the experience of some of the people here and also the current job market) is that it is not realistic for a drama graduate to expect to get an agent straight away. There are exceptions of course, but generally I would not get your hopes up! Focus on gaining experience and building up your resume. Many actors find most of their work comes from their own leads and not their agents anyway.

    • 11th Mar 2010
    • 1
  • Guy Press

    Actor

    Hi Scott,

    I agree with all of Jenna's points - not or the first time!!

    In terms of an agent search, do a mail out obviously when you are in shows, but also talk too as many actor friends about their agents as possible. There is no substitute for word of mouth.

    It's like finding a key for a lock some agents will work well with you some won't regardless of reputation. You have to remember that it is as much about you auditioning them, as them you. It's business! You may (will!) still end finding some of your own work but doors may open and you have someone backing you!

    All the best!

    • 11th Mar 2010
    • 2
  • Margaret Ashley

    Actor

    I agree with both the above. Really though you need to look at the list of agents with their books open, several seem to represent only younger actors, some take on drama school graduates, so try contacting them. You have to do your research, look at the agents websites, contact actors with them, ask their opinion, maybe consider a co-op, you will learn a lot by being involved there.This is a very hard business and nothing is handed to you on a plate. You have to work hard at getting where you want to be. It will take you time and money. You may be lucky. Maddog I thought also had an agency link or has that now closed. Try and get some fringework and then you can invite agents and CD's to see you. Good Luck.

    • 11th Mar 2010
    • 3
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Along the lines of Groucho Marx's remark that he wouldn't want to belong to any club that would accept him as a member:

    Be wary of any (actor's) agent who will take you on without meeting you and without seeing what you can do. An agent can't represent you properly unless they know what you are capable of and your CV (anyone's CV) won't really show them that. They need to have seen you perform, either on stage, on screen, in a showcase or on a showreel. They also need to know how you come across in an interview.

    • 11th Mar 2010
    • 4
  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    All of this is intelligent advice being given by intelligent people, so I would take note of it, Scott.

    Equally, however, I think it is answering a slightly different question to the one that you asked, which is for recommendations, rather than the details of how you actually go about applying to an agent.

    In this respect, I am afraid, there are no easy answers again: the simple truth is, finding a good agent is a matter of trial and error because different sorts of agency suit different types of actor, and you have to work out what will function most appropriately for you. There is, naturally, a consensus that certain agencies are the best in the country - and they undoubtedly are, because they represent the biggest names working within the industry, have the most wide ranging contact bases within both the national and international markets, and, most importantly, generate enough leverage to get their clients seen for prestige projects. By and large, they will not even look at you unless you are already making some serious headway into the industry as a whole. But it is also true that their client base is huge, and many lesser actors, who have been taken on in a momentary fit of enthusiasm, get lost amongst the campaigning to get big-name stars big-name parts. This may mean that being with a huge agency is not, initially, as beneficial for you as being promoted by a smaller scale agency that can actually match jobs to your skills base and industry standing, and realistically get you seen for parts (as well as treating you as an individual, and helping you to define your own career path).

    The questions you need to ask yourself when winnowing out agencies are:

    a) Where do you see yourself being based? I know you've said that you aren't based anywhere at the moment, and that your home life may be in flux, but this is not a helpful attitude. Try and work out either where you are likely to/want to settle, and search for agents in the locality. There is very, very little point in being represented by someone who operates miles away from your home base, because there is no easy way to communicate with them when you need to, and your agent needs to be accountable to you, to a large extent.

    b) Ask yourself what sort of agency you are interested in being taken on by: would you prefer to try and push for representation by a large conglomerate (unlikely though you may be to be seen initially?). Would you prefer a smaller bespoke agency? Would you be prepared to work in a co-op and promote yourself (and others?). Have you got special skills that a particular agency caters for better than another?

    c) Are you particularly proficient in certain types of performance and genre? If so, can you find agencies where it looks as if the clients are being promoted for the same sort of work you would be interested in finding (you can find this out by accessing client CV's and reading news pages on agency websites?) This is important because some agencies have very specific networks of contacts that are a great match for certain types of actors, and hopeless for others. Be realistic about this: I have no skill in musical theatre, and therefore avoid conspicuously anyone who primarily promotes musical theatre actors; similarly, I know I am a character actor, and that certain agencies will not promote someone who is 'characterful' well, just as, in the same way, you don't wish to be a leading type actor who is represented by a character actor dominated agency. Many agencies have deliberately mixed representation, so that the clients cover a wide spectrum of casting possibilities, but they still tend to specialise in getting higher ratios of commercial work, musical theatre or theatre, Internet broadcasting etc. depending on the agency contacts. It is worth trying to analyse the calibre of an agency's current clients as well, if you can, and seeing if you think your skills are a good match for theirs, as it's too easy to pitch yourself at too high or too low a standard within the industry, and ensure no-one takes you seriously.

    d) As Helen says, all the time be on the lookout for shysters who are attempting to make a quick buck from you. They are sometimes a little difficult to tell from serious agents at first, and just because an agency is a new setup (CCP will tell you when an agency was founded) doesn't mean it won't prove to be any good. All you can say here is that a brand new agency may be more 'hungry' to get its clients work, but has not really been tested in the market so may also fold at a later stage if it cannot generate enough work from its clients. Older agencies are more proven (though they still get bankrupted, close shop etc. from time to time). The things that guarantee an agency is shystering you, however, are: any request that you pay an upfront amount of money to be placed on the books or have in-house photographs taken to promote you and an undue emphasis on signing any binding contract that demands you to be tied to the agency for an extended length of time (say, a year - a more general contract laying down the agents obligations to you, percentage commission rates and terms for leaving the agency is more acceptable - but many of the highest ranking agencies seal a deal with no more than a gentleman's agreement between you that you will work to the basis of a verbal agreement between you in each others' best interests).

    Many actors complain about the way in which agents will take a cut from any work you do, even if you found the work for yourself, although in my experience, if the work doesn't pay well in the first instance, a decent agent tends to waive the cut, preferring to see you working. Some agents can be quite doctrinaire about what work you take on and what work you shouldn't be seen to be doing. Neither of these things is considered untoward, or the mark of a bad agent, though they may not suit you personally, and you may have to keep searching to locate an agent with whom your dealings feel comfortable. However, you should always avoid signing up to e.g. directory websites in lieu of finding an agent unless you are fully prepared to accept that what you are doing is paying a fee with no guaranteed work at the end of it, and a partial expectation that you are selling yourself. There are many such websites that masquerade as 'agencies' when, in fact, all they are doing 'on your behalf' is hosting pictures and profiles of you that casting people may happen across once in a blue moon. This is not agenting in anyone's book, but people who are signed solely to directory websites sometimes wish to imply that they are 'represented' by the website. Don't fall into the trap - the only usable websites are the ones that allow you to apply for jobs on your own behalf.

    e) As everyone has said, this may all be somewhat pre-emptive, anyway, as you may well need to get a much more solid body of work/experience behind you before agencies start being interested (after all, they want to think you can make them money). But it is all good advice that is worth considering well into the future.

    • 11th Mar 2010
    • 5
  • Scott Jamie Allen

    Actor

    thankyou everyone. Much appretiated it's really helped thankyou. Hope everything is going well.

    Scott Alexander

    • 11th Mar 2010
    • 6
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Hi Scott! Good luck with it all! Like Jenna, I too didn't go to drama school, but started out as a (dreaded) extra, got some auditions with dialogue through the agencies I was registered with and went on from there to get my Spotlight membership and then an agent. I notice that you have credited some (what appears to be) background work with Mad Dog. I was also registered with them (both branches) and they were great because they also, occasionally handle featured and dialogued roles and it was through them I got my first dialogued role, via audition. The London branch now do in-house casting as well, so real possibilities for more interesting work do come up. However, as Jenna suggests I would leave any background work off your CV, it tends to weaken it rather than pad it out. But they may well come up with some good opportunities, so stick with it - be confident with them about taking on dialogue and walk-ons. Also try Rapid Talent agency - they place you in their directory which is graded from extra to a Featured Actor according to your training and CV and submit to suitable castings they receive. They handle lots of commercials and some TV and film work, too. It also might be worth trying to do a specific screen acting short course, if your degree was mainly theatre. This might help you land some more work. There are some good, independent film companies out there (few and far bewtween, but they do exist) who will pay you for short films and provide you with showreel, which would be a good addition to your CV and paid work will then enable you to get your Spotlight membership, which can be fairly crucial for marketing yourself and getting an agent. But - nothing ventured, nothing gained : write off to loads of agents and you may well strike lucky. This business seems just as much about determination and shrewd career choices as anything else sometimes! Best of luck with it all :) Vanessa

    • 12th Mar 2010
    • 7
  • Blake J Askew

    Actor

    Hi Scott

    On a much more practical note- join Spotlight as soon as you can as no agent will take you on if you are not subscribed. 95 percent of paid work comes through Spotlight and its pretty much the sign of being a professional in this business.

    • 12th Mar 2010
    • 8
  • Nigel Peever

    Actor

    And without an agent you get all the spotlight job information sent straight to your email box so that you can take control of what you put yourself up for.

    • 12th Mar 2010
    • 9
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Not quite Nigel, you only get what the Casting Directors choose to send to everyone - the vast majority of Spotlight breakdowns only go to Agents.

    • 15th Mar 2010
    • 10
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Yep, I would agree with that last comment - lots of CD's simply overlook actors without representation, sadly. So you may get access to all the casting information, but no shot at the casting itself. Hobson's Choice.... :)

    • 15th Mar 2010
    • 11
  • Nigel Peever

    Actor

    Oh. Ok then you get some leads sent straight to your email box . It's twenty to four and I've had eight so far today . Still not bad! I'm a lot happier with my spotlight this year than any previous year of being in it with an agent all I ever got before was one dirty phone call and funny though it was it doesn't really count.

    • 15th Mar 2010
    • 12
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    My Mum gets those! Wonder if it's the same person - lol! It's all such a lottery sometimes, isn't it?!!

    • 15th Mar 2010
    • 13
  • Kelly Freemantle

    Actor

    good luck.

    I had a useless agent before . it took me 4 months solid emailing agents around to get a new agent. best way is to get the spotlight book and see all the agents websites to see who they have on their books

    • 16th Mar 2010
    • 14