Paying commission on work not found by agent

  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Please could I have some opinions on as to whether it is an acceptable clause to an actor/agents contract for the agent to demand their commission on all work done by the actor, regardless of whether the actor secured the work outside of the agency.

    I would like to know all sides of the argument, so please respond if you have an opinion or experience on this matter.

    Thank you.

    Best.

    • 12th Sep 2014
    • 18855
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  • Sue Parker-Nutley

    Actor

    I have had a few agents since I started in this game, and have made sure that I had a clause in my contract saying that any work that I acquired by my own means was not subject to any commission. It's only fair, after all - what effort have they put in?

    • 20th Aug 2012
    • 1
  • Clifford Hume

    Actor

    I have always strived to get my own work rather than wait for an agent, so when I do get a joob from an agent I will pay their commission for that job with no problem.

    Most agents are happy about this, BUT beware if you are asked to sign a MANAGEMENT contract - these do differ and you MUST pay your agent a percentage of EVERYTHING you earn regardless if you get it yourself.

    If a management agent is very good and finds you ample work, then the artiste should not have a need to search for their own work. But alas, there are some swindlers out in Showbizland who will sign you up to a management contract and then do sweet diddly!

    Ask around for the best management companies, but ALWAYS read the small print, over and over until you are satisfied that the contract is for you.

    • 20th Aug 2012
    • 2
  • Dave Frost

    Actor

    Unless my agent finds the work for me then I would never pay them a commission, as I've done the leg work and networking to get that job. It's only fair.

    However, if I want my agent to get involved with the legals, or if it's a contact I know from a previous job through the agency, then it's only fair to pay for that.

    • 20th Aug 2012
    • 3
  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    Another way of looking at this is to ask what kind of work are you likely to be procuring for yourself anyway (because the vast majority of jobbing actors *are* finding 80% of their own work at any given time)?

    If it is extremely high level, well paying work (and thus paid at proper Equity rate, or BSF rates, with a usage contract for screen and so on), then a)it would be churlish *not* to offer the agent a percentage of any work you secure, particularly if you are aiming to keep the relationship with the agent on an even keel and b) more importantly, it shouldn't matter *who* sourced the work - the agency percentage will have already been taken into consideration as part of the pay deal, as it will be assumed most actors who are being employed will also be represented by intermediary negotiating parties!

    When you are sourcing work that is paying below rate, you will tend to find there are three types of reaction from agents: a) They will be the sort of agent who do not want you working on this type of material anyway - as it offers them nothing remunerative and your involvement with it precludes availability - so they will aim to dissuade you from accepting it altogether

    b) They will be (for the jobbing actor) what is probably the best type of agent - willing to waive levelling a percentage on any work that is not being paid above a threshold level, and yet still happy enough for you to undertake it, given that you keep them well informed of what you are doing (the economics of this arrangement is fairly obvious: if you earn £100 for a screen job, and the agent gets to level 20% on your screen work, then, in seriousness, is going to the trouble of winning back £20 from this job worth it to them? It's unlikely to be, whereas if you are 'holding out' on a job that has just netted you £25,000 in a day because you 'sourced it yourself', there may be more of an issue!

    c) They are the type of agents who wish to handcuff you to a deal agreeing that you will have a percentage taken from all work you do for money regardless of the source of landing the work - and, more importantly, in my view, regardless of how much you are actually being paid for it, whether an agent's fee has been calculated into the earnings and so on. I wouldn't personally sign a contract on that basis, because I see a good working relationship with the agent as one of negotiation between yourself and the agent, and lacking any kind of adaptability on a project by project basis tends to ruin an actor/agent relationship. In my opinion, some material (regardless of who sourced is) is fair to take commission from, and some (regardless of who sourced it) isn't. The better the relationship with the agent, and the freer you are from any written contract on this basis, the more you will be able to negotiate with your agent over the question of payment for each job case by case.

    • 21st Aug 2012
    • 4
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    My agent doesn't take commission from 'outside work' done though I know plenty who do. This wasn't anything written down, just a morally correct verbal agreement and they've stuck to it.

    • 21st Aug 2012
    • 5
  • Heather Rome

    Actor

    Any agent trying to claim commission on jobs "below threshold", that is substantially below recommended Equity rates is either just greedy and/or not doing very well and grabbing anthing they can get their hands on to keep afloat.

    For a well-paid job that could/should require good negotiating on not only pay but possibly expenses, placement of credits and other things an experienced agent does earn their commission, even if you made the initial contact, by using their knowledge of the industry and experience to get you the best all-round deal. It also may make a better impression on your employer to have a good representative as it makes you seem more professional and savvy.

    For me the grey area is when you have found the job yourself and are earning the recommended Equity minimum but not much more and the job is of relatively short duration. It's very tempting, given how strapped most of us are, to just not tell your agent and not pay commission. After all, how often do we speak to each other and how often do they check your online c.v., etc.?

    This happened to me last year when I got several corporate jobs and a roleplay job of several weeks involving devising and presenting at several conferences. These were a different type of credit to put on my c.v. and I hoped they would help me get more of this type of "bread and butter" work. But once on my c.v. I wondered what my agent would think and what questions would be asked and was, quite frankly, nervous about souring relations with someone who has and is getting me good auditions and is genuinely trying their best.

    So, in accordance with my contract I sent an end-of-year account telling him what I thought I owed him. He was touched that I had been so honest and although it caused a pang to send the cheque I think it has underlined the commitment on both our parts. On his, to keep trying to get me seen and advise me regarding things that relate to that like photos. On mine, that as a professional I take my obligations seriously. I signed his contract and I honour it.

    • 21st Aug 2012
    • 6
  • Suzanna Hughes

    Actor

    Well I have a couple of different agents for different things. The filming I'm doing today, I'm not going to give my agent who got me tomorrows work commission! Same goes for work I source myself, only the tax man gets some of that!

    • 21st Aug 2012
    • 7
  • Lisa Colquhoun

    Actor

    HI Stuart

    I have just signed up with an agent and i asked her that very question. She stated that she was all for keeping actors happy and in complying with the code of conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses - maybe you should look into that and see what it states and throw it back into your agents face...and then give him 1 months notice and find another agent!

    Our industry and work is too hard to push into without these goons taking all our hard earned money.

    • 21st Aug 2012
    • 8
  • Pamela Flanagan

    Actor

    I disagree.

    Although you may have found a particular job yourself your agent is still putting you up for work every day. Many of these jobs you either don't get seen for or don't end up getting the job. However they are still putting in the time and effort to try to get you seen.

    They also cannot put you up for work while you are doing work that you found yourself.

    Therefore I think that it is fair enough for them to take a percentage. However it's each to their own (as always) and if you find an agent who is happy not to take a cut of your own work then good for you.

    • 21st Aug 2012
    • 9
  • Victoria Broom

    Actor

    This is difficult.

    I can understand both sides, yet if you have been booked out for a certain amount of time on a shoot/run then the agent cannot submit you for projects. So you are costing them potential money.

    But i agree that any agent that takes or requests money on a below Equity Min job is being greedy, but then your agent should be fighting for you to get above Equity rates.

    In my case, i have sourced a fair few jobs myself.. yet always tell the company to contact my agent when fee's are discussed.

    95% of the time, the fee goes up and the agent gets her % on top.

    :)

    • 21st Aug 2012
    • 10
  • Sam Lucas Smith

    Actor

    Rushed post - typing from my mobile... And not very good at it.

    Most agents would technically be due a percentage if you are going to be made unavailable due to work found yourself . It's worth talking it out before, just so as everything is clear.

    I'd say that if you are happy with your agent then you should be content with offering an agreed rate for work found through your own doing or through another agent -- assuming they are still working on your behalf and your availability for things they're putting you up for would be affected.

    If you are not happy with your agent or feel that they aren't working for you then, to make things easier for yourself, you simply shouldn't be with them.

    • 21st Aug 2012
    • 11
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Thanks for posting on this topic that I really need advice on right now.

    Thank you to:

    Sue Parker-Nutley

    Clifford Hume

    Dave Frost

    Lee Ravitz

    Phillip Keiman

    Heather Rome

    Suzanna Hughes

    Lisa Colquhoun

    Pamela Flanagan

    Victoria Broom

    Sam Smith

    I have read all your posts with interest.

    Why is this line of work so difficult to fathom?

    I just want to act!

    Best.

    • 21st Aug 2012
    • 12
  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    I hate the thought of paying an agent for work they did not get you?

    The argument as ever crops up from time to time. Yes I can see for and against…however: You are unavailable for work that your agent could be getting you…so you should pay them? Eh? Hang on…..how many jobs is your agent getting you and are they well paid jobs? If you are getting well paid work through your agent….and then you decide to get your own….OK that might apply, I doubt you will find many actors with agents getting them lots of regular well paid work!

    The other well worn argument: It's because the agent has put you up for other work that has made you popular for the work you get yourself. Well that is totally un-provable - unless again…the work you have gained with that agent has been high profile enough to enable you to get your own work.

    I think the fairest option is if you get your own work…..you don't pay the agent commission.

    If you secure work and call your agent to deal with the contract…..then the agent should get the commission of course.

    Look at it this way: If you got yourself a good job….why didn't or why wasn't your agent able to get you through the door for the same casting?

    Like I say….there is for and against: I personally think it fairer if the agent takes a cut through auditions/castings they have generated….and no commission on work you have generated.

    One last thing: Why not say to your agent….I got this Job…so if you are insisting on commission…can we at least negotiate a much lower rate of commission to be fair.

    At the end of the day Stuart…due to your new showreel when its done….you are going to be inundated with work offers ..it wont matter!

    • 21st Aug 2012
    • 13
  • Gilda Waugh

    Actor

    With a new agent everything must be sorted out when they take you on, so there are no grey areas, where there could be some bad feelings on both sides. I have a new agent and i also have a voice over agent and a not very active dance agent. They seemed to be ok with that and did not mention i would have to part with anything i got from that work. I have not broached the subject of whether i have to pay anything from work that i get myself, especially if it was something that pays well, so will run that with them next week. I do feel they work very hard for their actors, and if anyone out there dosen't feel their agent is working hard for them , then i advise to move on.

    • 25th Aug 2012
    • 14
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Thank you Mark and Gilda for your additional comments.

    The showreel Mark mentions is now complete and can be viewed here:

    youtu.be/gMrJUrAniZM

    If anyone wants to comment on the new showreel with constructive criticism, I would very much welcome the feedback.

    Best.

    • 29th Aug 2012
    • 15
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    My opinion is this:

    An actor's job is to act! A hard enough job without the legal, contractual minefield that can sometimes come with the job.

    An agents job is to:

    A. Negotiate on behalf of the workseeker with the intention of raising their wage and creating good terms and conditions for each job.

    B.Know their clients Diary and availability to make their career run smoothly and of course the possibility they can multi job.

    C.Spend the time working to market them throughout the industry and give career advice when needed.

    We charge our artists 10% for the above services and although it is their right to withhold payment for jobs that they were offered directly or sourced themselves, all 65 of our clients to a man/woman say the same thing to potential employers....'Thank you for the kind offer, here are my agents details!!

    Also remember your agency fees can be offset against tax.

    • 29th Aug 2012
    • 16
  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    universal artistes....

    That's fair enough, but I think you will find that the essence of this thread is for those actors who have been with an agent a while....had zero castings....and still "insist" on taking 15% or more for work they have not found for their client. How would you justify that.....following a period of 1-3-6 months without one solitary casting from their agent? It doesn't apply to me...I get regular-ish castings...and my agent has never asked me for commission on my own work...unless I ask her to negotiate the contract. However, in amongst my showreel editing work etc, I come across a lot of actors who are in this position.

    Also....would you still expect your clients to pay a 10% commission from work which is paid at below the Equity rate...even if the client is the one who has apllied for and secured the audition/Job.

    • 29th Aug 2012
    • 17
  • Rhys Jones

    Actor

    If you think it is fair for the agent to invoice you for every phone call made on your behalf for jobs you don't get, then fine. Withhold any money that they may be owed. An agent's role is to negotiate the best contract, and really the job of finding work lies with the actor.

    • 29th Aug 2012
    • 18
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Touche Ryhs.

    Touche!

    • 30th Aug 2012
    • 19