Fees

  • Jensen Freeman

    Actor

    I recently attended a meeting with an agent who would take a 20% commission on all work that they found,is this an acceptable commission rate? Can anyone advise what the industry standards are?

    Cheers!

    • 14th Jan 2012
    • 4496
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  • Ryan Dolan

    Actor

    I believe the industry standard is between 10-20%, with the average being 20%. Commision varys upon the agent. Some agents charge less (10-15%) depending on the type of work, tv usually garners 20% whereas theatre may be subject to 10-15%.

    Regards.

    • 5th Nov 2011
    • 1
  • Forbes KB

    Actor

    It's certainly at the top end of the scale! Also don't forget they'll also be 20% of their 20% Commission for VAT!

    • 5th Nov 2011
    • 2
  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    Ryan's answer is basically the standard: it's generally assumed by most agents that the fees derived from the type of work concerned translate to the amount of percentage that they can reasonably take from the work.

    Theatre is actually paid quite poorly in comparison with other forms of employment, even at the highest end of the scale (e.g. West End or RSC performance!), and regardless of the fact that it remains the most highly rated *activity* that most UK actors wish to participate in. In comparison, screen work pays much better, with television often being more lucrative than film, in point of fact, and commercials being the most lucrative of all. Accordingly, to find an agent levelling a lowish percentile rate on theatre work (10%-15%) and a much higher rate for e.g. commercials (20%) is not uncommon.

    I would advise you perhaps to be wary of any agent who is stating they will always take a blanket rate, regardless of the nature of the commission, because, realistically, some commissions will not pay enough to make you much money once commission is deducted, as Forbes says. This is not to say that I think levelling 20% commission per se is uncommon or unreasonable, just that it may be unreasonable across the board, and regardless of the nature of the work you're put up for. With that said, if you are looking to be represented by an agency who have little interest in e.g. theatre casting, and will only be getting you seen for screen work, commercials etc., then this seems less of an issue - it is simply, as has been suggested, levelling a commission at the higher end of the scale!

    It is worth pointing out that you can claim some possible money back against agency commission from the tax man at the end of a business year, as it counts towards legitimate expenses for an actor (alongside many other things) - although any tax rebate you may get is unlikely to make up for losing a large cut in the first instance.

    As ever with an agency, you will have to go with your gut instincts overall as to whether or not you wish to be represented by them. Their commission rate is not unacceptable, but you can almost certainly get lower rates from other representatives!

    • 5th Nov 2011
    • 3
  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    Around 10% theatre-15% YV and Film is the norm...average. Certain agents may hike it to 20% for TV adverts. I agree with Lee & Forbes, 20% across the board is certainly high.

    Also check if they are wanting a commission on "any work" you do....ie: What about your own work which you have found yourself?! 20% Commission plus vat of work found by you is daft I think! Although I do not think work found by you should be subject to an agents commission in most cases anyway, unless that work has come about from a contact they created.

    Apart from that…..how many castings are they are going to get you is the main consideration!!

    • 6th Nov 2011
    • 4
  • Jensen Freeman

    Actor

    Thanks for the info guys, sorry I didn't reply sooner!

    I have a second meeting with said agent in January so will certainly raise a few questions. The agent is non-exclusive, which is another grey area I'm a bit unsure of... But they said that they would not take commission on any work that I find myself. Is that standard too?

    • 29th Nov 2011
    • 5
  • Rob Marni

    Actor

    Hi Jensen,

    Mark, Forbes and I'm sure Lee were bang on with rates -(sorry Lee but I can't always read your thorough analysis, but when I have they tend to be very well informed!) Bare this in mind - a bad agent can, and often is, worse than having no agent, so look at thier client list, look at the work they have been cast in within the last year, and make your judgment accordingly. Its a partnership, so really all work, whether you get it or not needs contract management so I am suprised they wavered a fee - research them please!

    Rob:)

    • 29th Nov 2011
    • 6
  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    Hi again Jensen,

    Not charging commission on work you find yourself is actually a *good* deal that many actors search in vain to find (there is often nothing more galling than to feel you have worked long and hard with no assistance from your agent to find a job for yourself, agree a rate, and then discover that your agent wishes to take substantial commission on it!). However, the downside is that this may, tacitly, be an indication that the agency does not expect to source you vast amounts of work, and therefore expects you will need to supplement substantially by finding your own.

    Some actors, it's true, much prefer to have time and resources available to pursue their own kinds of projects, of course, so this is not necessarily a bad thing in itself - not every actor *does* want to be called in for a commercials audition every other day! But this will come down to personal preference.

    The more unusual element is that the agency are stating that they are non-exclusive: I am not sure you can go wrong with that, as such, because if it's true, you could always secure representation by another agency with no questions asked. But it is very unusual for most agencies who take their job of representing you seriously to waive their right to exclusivity over you - the only exceptions tend to be when you are asking to be represented in a very specific area, such as voice over work, that the agent you have signed with confesses no competence in.

    In this sense, even if you have a non-exclusivity agreement with a first agency, you are unlikely to find other agencies that will wish to represent you *in addition* unless you sign yourself over exclusively to them and ditch your other representatives - this is just a question of economic sense (they don't want you halving potential profits by working for someone else). It might still be a situation that could work in your favour, allowing you an easy transition from one agency to another, but you have to ask: WHY is an agency offering non-exclusivity? The most obvious answer is, again, because they are guaranteeing little opportunity to find you work.

    It is worth checking the small print because walk-on agencies/commercials agencies etc. invariably *are* non-exclusive, and allow the artists to hold multiple places on different agencies books because the nature of the work is piecemeal and different, but I am assuming that you wish to be represented as an actor/performer, first and foremost. Equally, there should never be any suggestion that you have to pay fees to the agency in order to secure representation: sometimes an agency that is very casual about the representation of its clients is creaming money off at source, and this is how they can afford to behave like this, though what they are doing is now, to all intents, illegal.

    I am not saying that either of these things is necessarily true of this agency, but do make sure you go well armed to ask the right questions at the interview.

    • 29th Nov 2011
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  • Jensen Freeman

    Actor

    Lee, I may hire you as my advisor! You've raised a few things I had not considered and quite rightly should. For the past 3 years I have worked consistently in theatre, both home and internationally, and on commercials and film and TV, BUT with exception of theatre, the rest has been small scale. I now am ready to embrace more challenging projects and hopefully step forward with more role work, but those opportunities I feel can only be sought via a reputable agent.

    It's a difficult situation, I'm not just looking for an agent for the sake of having one, as I'm bumbling through quite well. My need for an agent is to move forward onto bigger projects. I'm not in the fame game, I genuinely love performing and consistently work hard, and I know that with the right agent, there would be a mutual equally fulfilling relationship.

    • 29th Nov 2011
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  • Johnny Neal

    Actor

    If they are charging 20% ask them what sort of work you can expect to be auditioning for with them. Typically any agent that specializes more in tv and film will charge a higher commission, however it's often worth it. Someone who is more interested in your theatre career usually will charge less, this isn't a representation of their skills as an agent, it's just that if you'll be expecting to earn more the agent will typically charge more, which is why modeling agents take around a 25% cut. Don't worry about asking the agent any questions at all, remember at the end of the day you are hiring them.

    • 30th Nov 2011
    • 9
  • Jensen Freeman

    Actor

    Thanks for the replies guys. You have all raised important factors that I hadn't. I will go ahead with the follow up meeting which I also need to perform 2 monologues for, I've already got through their first stage. They are a relatively new company, so their history is minimal. I was a little suspect however, when I attended a casting recently that I found on another casting site and got chatting to another auditionee who is already represented by this agent,. I was succesfull in the audition and got the role, but then it made me think that if the agent had sent me to that casting, they would take 20% on my fee? But the ad was on a public casting site similar to this. I would expect the agent to be putting me forward for roles that are exclusive to represented artists,and not for roles I can find here or similar sites. Does that make sense?

    • 30th Nov 2011
    • 10
  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    Yes, it make absolute sense, and you are right to think it's dubious. With the greatest of respect to (some) of the opportunities CCP offers, the whole point of this site is that actors can utilise it in order to source and win their own work without necessarily having to go through a middleman, and other online casting sites tend to also work this way. By and large, breakdowns for the highest ranking work are *not* placed online because the casting directors have very important reciprocal relationships in place with specified agents, and are working to sometimes very specific client requests as to what sort of actor they are trying to source, and they have no wish to send out an 'APB' to several thousand potential applicants, none of whom have been vetted in any previous way by them. This is one of the reasons you employ your agent: in order to get you the 'ins' required to be making specific short lists for jobs that will not present an online breakdown.

    The other point, as you correctly note, is that a job won from an online site is unlikely to pay much, even when it pays at a decent nominal rate (the vast majority of paying jobs advertised on this site do not meet Equity's ideal rates levels). Given that a cut may be taken on something that is a minor job and will be paying only nominal levels anyway, you are right to be completely suspicious. Equally, let us remember that any of us logged onto the system now can apply for any job on this system because we pay subscription: if all your agency's 'representation' amounts to is that they will send out a covering letter on your behalf for a job you could have applied for yourself, then that is hardly representation at all.

    Although I was cautious before, because there weren't many details in place, the picture seems to become clearer: it seems like this agency's mode is to take you onto the books, apply for easy work that you could have sourced with minimum trouble yourself, take a substantive, set cut on any such work they get for you (or you get for yourself), and waive their responsibilities to you by maintaining that you are free to get someone else to represent you alongside them in order to supplement your own income (even though non-exclusivity is never going to be acceptable to a serious agency). Every single one of these tendencies is bad. I think you're within your rights to take the meeting and call them out on things, but I suspect, in all honesty even now, that it won't be unlikely if you decide that what they are offering is hardly a decent offer at all.

    • 30th Nov 2011
    • 11
  • Anna Stark

    Actor

    HI there!

    I have been recently contacted by an agency that charges 20% on TV, Films and Commercials and 33!!!! on photographic work...

    Is that OK?

    I can't be picky really I am just starting back from zero AGAAAIN here.

    What do you think?

    • 6th Dec 2011
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  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    its on the high side....especially 33% ...very high

    • 6th Dec 2011
    • 13
  • David Hopper

    Actor

    I think that is very high in my opinion. I mean 20 percent is becoming me common for agents to charge for the commercials however for across the board seems very steep to me.

    • 6th Dec 2011
    • 14
  • Anna Stark

    Actor

    I know! it seems TOO high to me too, but I'm not a model, what are the odds that I get any photographic work anyway.

    • 6th Dec 2011
    • 15
  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    That sounds crazy to me, not to mention arbitrary (why 33%? - most percentages, understandably, are charged to the base five - 10%, 15%, 20% etc.). I wouldn't claim to be an expert on stills work, but unless you are literally working as a top end cover model, I have seen no proof that stills shoots will offer you more money than a commercial or a solid TV role; generally speaking, in fact, stills material offers much lesser pay, so to be charged the maximum percentage on it makes no sense.

    The only (partial) justification I can see is that the agency is primarily engaged to contract for stills and modelling work, and they offset the cut with the promise that they will get you regular work in the field week in, week out (which might mean that it pays off eventually). But it still seems to be an unwarrantably high amount of commission to me.

    • 6th Dec 2011
    • 16
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Hello everyone.

    I've got an agent meeting coming up too. I haven't sought representation before. My concern is that the agent wants to take commission on work I find myself, through my own contacts. I don't know the details yet, but that just doesn't sit well with me. How common is that?

    It's my first agent meeting and I've no idea yet if I'll get any other offers, so part of me thinks just do it, but I do bring in work myself, especially corporate stuff, and I'd be very unwilling to give a percentage to an agency for doing absolutely nothing.

    Your wisdom would be much appreciated!

    • 11th Dec 2011
    • 17
  • Jensen Freeman

    Actor

    Just thought I'd update! I declined the second meeting with the agent and received quite a curt response, so feel that I did the right thing and made the right choice.

    All good things come to those who wait.

    • 14th Jan 2012
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  • Farah Sardar

    Actor

    When you're choosing an agent make sure you know what YOU want out of this and approach agents on this basis.

    When I was choosing mine I had a list of things - and I certainly didn't want them to take commission on the work I found myself.

    • 14th Jan 2012
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