Problems

  • Catherine Stobbs

    Actor

    Hi,

    I have a few questions about my agent. I have been with mine since I graduated in July, I was sent a contract which I didn't sign until as I had some questions.

    One of them being that the contract stated I had to stay with siad agent a whole year plus 3 months notice. I contacted them explaining I would like to discuss this and I heard nothing. The matter was brushed under the carpet and never mentioned again. I still haven't signed the contract nor has the agent (althought it is stated in the contract that I will received a signed copy).

    I was also sent an invoice for money to go on their website, this I also questioned as I didn't want to pay money up front, and ignored.

    So its 8 months later, I have no signed contract and I am not on the website. I have had 3 auditions since then and through discussion with others have not been put up for a lot of spotlight castings I could be suitable for.

    My problem now is that I want to leave as I am leaving the area and want to start a fresh. I have emailed about this and it has been ignored and my calls rarely get answered on the phone.

    Help??

    Thanks

    • 29th Jan 2010
    • 2910
    • 25
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Hi Catherine,

    I don't have any knowledge of particular agencies and their conditions/fees etc. BUT if you want to leave and have not signed a contract, then you can just leave - it is as simple as that...especially given that you questioned certain things in the contract and other conditions anyway, which demonstrates that you didn't agree with them as such.

    Legally, you are free to leave, go c/o spotlight, and/or move to another agent. You did the right thing in telling them you wish to leave because you are relocating, but you need not be trapped by them if they will not reply.

    Good luck x

    • 27th Jan 2010
    • 1
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    I had a similar experience with my first agent. No contract, little to no contact (once he sent me notification of an audition typed on a type writer and sent in the post!).

    I was moving and wanted to start afresh so I just wrote a pleasant email. Then I changed to care of Spotlight. Simples.

    • 27th Jan 2010
    • 2
  • Alice Bell

    Actor

    I think everyone has an experience they would rather not have been in.

    I also believe you have already made your decision regarding this agency.

    In an ideal world the relationship should be a partnership, each working toward the same goal. If I have ever been in a situation where communication isn't easy, regretfully I realise it's better to be out of that partnership.

    • 27th Jan 2010
    • 3
  • Catherine Stobbs

    Actor

    Thanks to everyone who replied. I guess I have made my decision I am just worried that when it comes down to it I will either have to wait out the year or get a 'bad name' for myself. However, I'm not getting any work from him so I'm surely more of a hinderance?

    Thanks

    Catherine

    • 27th Jan 2010
    • 4
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    I think if you really don't feel you can have a conversation with your agent (not all the time, but when you really need to) then it is unlikely to be a good, businesslike relationship that you can be confident about.

    The only note of caution I would sound is the danger of comparing notes with other actors about what you are being submitted for. There are all sorts of reasons why an agent may not submit you for something and countless scores of reasons why you may not get called in for something you have been submitted for. It is possible that your agent doesn't get the same breakdowns that other agents do (because CDs can choose who gets what). It is possible that other agents submit people who don't really fit the brief and throw everyone into the pot and that your agent is more choosy (and sensible). It is possible that your agent is submitting you for things that you know nothing about.

    I was sitting in the Tristan Bates Theatre bar at the Actors' Centre recently and all I could hear was actors moaning about agents!

    Having said all that, if your agent is ignoring your requests to talk about the concerns you have (and is unwilling to talk about your career ambitions) then perhaps it is time to move on.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.

    • 27th Jan 2010
    • 5
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Upfront fees...? Hmmm, not a good start. Helen makes a very good point about comparing notes with submissions. Imay think I look like one thing, but actually the CD has a very definite idea about what they want or the skills they need. however, I'm thinking of going back to c/o Spotlight simply to feel a bit more proactive as I've had nothing in a year from my agent, all my paid work has come from sniffing out the castings myself.... Good luck :)

    • 27th Jan 2010
    • 6
  • Guy Press

    Actor

    Hi Catherine you won't get a bad name!!

    Any reputable agency will let you leave when you want despite any ongoing works.

    Legally you are well protected!! Their request for monies to go on a website is not right correct or proper so Leave them immediately!!

    All the best and Don't worry!!!

    Guy ;-)

    www.youtube.com/user/GUYPRESS

    • 27th Jan 2010
    • 7
  • David Laurence

    Actor

    What I suggest you do,is print out a copy of any emails you have recieved or sent to this dodgy agency.

    Also if you can remember log any calls made between you and them.Keep a copy of your contract,just in case they decide to say youve signed anything.

    Keep all these things in a file for future refrence.Then if these people should pop up again to haunt you,then you have proof to tell them to bugger off.

    It might well be wise to contact equity to give them the name of this agency,just so their ahead of the game,should you feel the need to update them in the future about any problems.

    But to be honest with you,no contract no problems as far as I can see.

    • 27th Jan 2010
    • 8
  • Catherine Stobbs

    Actor

    Hi

    Thanks all for comments I think I'm just going to send them a polite email explaining things and then go my own way. I don't see why they would want to keep me on as I am now living in a different part of the country.

    I wouldn't say they were dodgy the have been legitimate with payments etc and auditions when they have come up, only they have been few and far between and not particularly good on paperwork.

    Thanks

    • 27th Jan 2010
    • 9
  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    I don't see any great issue with any of this, either. I would also say that three auditions in six months is not a great hit rate, but you'd be surprised: it's better than some actors do in a year! Don't be misled by those who claim to be submitted for something twice a week - it may be the case that their agency is genuinely top notch, or it may be the case that they are remarkably saleable, and there are, of course, those actors who spend all year going to auditions and never land any, and those whose auditions are few and far between but land everything they are put up for. As has already been said (very wisely, I think) the comparison game is pointless, because there are 100 reasons why you are generating less (apparent) interest than others, and it may be a combination of look, skills base, accent, age, experience and many, many other things that you have little to no control over. Interestingly, if you know that others *in your agency* get to attend far more auditions than you do, it may, ironically, be a positive sign, inasmuch as you know that your agent is at least proactive in getting clients seen. If it appears that they are unable to sell you specifically, of course, then that may well be enough to encourage you to look elsewhere for a different representative, who may understand your gifts better, or have better contacts in fields you are actually suited to work in.

    In this specific case, however, the reason the agency appears 'dodgy' is because of those two central elements - the need to get you to sign a formal, and binding, contract, and the desire to have you pay to be placed on the website. These are two telltale signs of the 'cowboy' agency, which exists to make money out of you at your expense. Because of this, rest assured, their own reputation will not be good with the majority of industry professionals who may be aware of them, and they would be hard pressed to make a contract that you have not signed (and which is rooted in questionable tenets in the first instance) stand up if you challenged it with, say, Equity's backing. Be as polite as you can; keep a copy of the email you send, any replies, a copy of the contract etc. just in case of any comeback, and leave with impunity. I very much doubt such an organisation would dare to 'follow up' because they know that none of their own practices bear investigation, and they wouldn't want to be put out of business!

    For future reference (and because we all learn from bad experiences with agents), it is worth asking about contractual obligation and upfront fees at initial interview before you sign with the agency. The valid agencies out there tend to operate, in fact, on the basis of 'probationary periods' and 'gentlemen's agreements', informal as that may seem. And you should never get in with anyone who is asking for any form of fee whatsoever.

    • 27th Jan 2010
    • 10
  • Catherine Stobbs

    Actor

    Thanks all who took the time to write such detailed replies. I bit the bullet this morning and emailed them. I kept it simple and basically said that there is no point keeping me on when I am so far away and briefly mentioned the lack of signed contract!

    I am a little nervous about his reply, but I am still waiting on a reply from the previous message so I may not get one at all

    Thanks Again

    Catherine

    • 28th Jan 2010
    • 11
  • Guy Press

    Actor

    Hi Catherine,

    No worries you'll be fine!! An Agency is a point of contact who should above all be personable to all but represent their actors BEST interests at all times - nothing more! If I have a problem when dealing with an agency I always inform the Actor because as an Actor Myself I believe it's in their interest.

    All the best,

    Guy

    web.me.com/guypress

    www.youtube.com/user/GUYPRESS

    • 28th Jan 2010
    • 12
  • Catherine Stobbs

    Actor

    Hi all,

    I have just had a reply saying that I am legally bound because I received the contract in an email and that people don't bother with physical signatures these days. He wants me to wait until at least april to leave which I don't want to do.

    I've replied saying basically I have no interest in staying and had concerns about the contract which were never addressed. I'm worried this is going to badly backfire on me now

    Help??!

    • 28th Jan 2010
    • 13
  • Hugh Osborne

    Actor

    He's strong arming you. If you haven't signed a contract, then you haven't signed a contract.

    But ring Equity asap, for rock solid clarification of where you stand.

    • 28th Jan 2010
    • 14
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Agreed. He's trying it on, hoping that you'll believe him.

    It's strictly true that to have a contractual agreement there doesn't always have to be a written and signed contract, but there are certain conditions that have to be fulfilled. From what you've said about your questioning and wanting to discuss certain aspects of the contract, these conditions will almost certainly not have been met, so you are not legally/contractually bound to him.

    It's funny that he says that now about not needing a signed contract, when he asked you to sign and return in the first case!

    I have a law degree and used to work in a solicitors, just in case you think I could be talking nonsense lol : )

    I'd agree with telling Equity though too, and I'm sure they'll back you up.

    x

    • 28th Jan 2010
    • 15
  • Catherine Stobbs

    Actor

    I'm waiting on a reply nothing yet, I can't believe it has got to this stage I honestly thought he'd say I understand your 200 miles away find someone closer. He has admitted he doesn't get much work in the north. There are other parts of the 'contract' which he has not fulfilled do you think this has any baring if he tries to 'force' me to stay as it were?

    Thanks

    Catherine

    • 28th Jan 2010
    • 16
  • Jenna Sharpe

    Actor

    If you don't feel able to deal with them directly (and I don't blame you as it sounds like it is getting a bit nasty) then definitely bring Equity in.

    And please do not worry about 'getting a bad name' for yourself.

    a) It doesn't seem like you have done anything wrong here

    b) we can't really prevent/control what other people want to say about us even if we wanted to

    c) if you can't get annoyed at someone when they are sending borderline threatening you then when CAN you?

    Just because you are trying to make it as an actor doesn't mean you gave up your right to have an opinion or express your personality! :)

    I am sure everything will get sorted and you can start afresh with a new agent. Good Luck!

    • 28th Jan 2010
    • 17
  • Catherine Stobbs

    Actor

    Thankyou, I am hoping he will just leave it I was quite clear that I didn't want to stay. I also mentioned I had spoken to Equity.

    I will see what he says tomorrow and try and get onto Equity first thing.

    Thanks again

    • 28th Jan 2010
    • 18
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Catherine,

    I really wouldn't get too worked up or worried about it.

    It's extremely unlikely that he could "force" you to stay, though these conditions he has failed to live up to (what are they?) would only be worth mentioning if he did somehow prove you agreed to the contract terms - If you are saying the contract was never agreed upon then suggesting he didn't fulfil parts of it is kind of contradictory. BUT in the very unlikely case that he did prove there was an agreement, then I guess, depending on what bits he didn't fulfil, you'd be able to argue that he breached the contract anyway!

    I wouldn't get hung up on waiting for a response either...it may never come. As a few have already said, just contact Equity, inform them of the facts, and go from there.

    x

    • 28th Jan 2010
    • 19