Self Representation

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    I have been working in the industry for over 12 years, and apart from 2 short intervals, have always represented myself. I was always disheartened to be sent for auditions and to see my personal letter on the panel's table, and not the agents! It was always a matter of pride and principal. But now having been away from the business for 2 years, I return and wonder if I've been kidding myself all these years???? Do I really need an agent? Is it that I've just not found the right one yet? Or am I better off alone?

    Does anyone have any opinions or ideas?

    Ta

    Julian Duncan

    • 15th Dec 2005
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    Im going through the whole process of representing myself. Ok i have a so called agent however they have not sent me off for any castings since joining them in August. Sometimes i think its not a bad thing representing myself other times i feel im not getting any work because my agent im sorry to say this is crap. I think it all depends on your Cv, headshot and experience. Maybe you could tell me how i can get any work. I feel i have sent of 100s of CV's and heard nothing back. I have had 4 auditions since leaving drama school in July with only 1 job - what am i doing wrong?

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Hey, thanks for replying. I think most of us who have represented ourselves at one time or another have switched from seeing it as a crusade to seeing it as rejection, then back again. What I would say is that so many hours are wasted on pointless mailouts that we should start to work smarter, not harder! I found that most of the work I got was in times I was more selective about my submissions. I realised that I was not going to reach my full commercial potential until I reached 30, and market myself that way. I only went for those things I felt i would excel at, which meant that when a CV landed on someones desk it was appropriate.

    One of the good things about representing yourself, is that you know how hard you work to put yourself forward. This means you don't expect any potential agent to do any less! Not knowing your touring schedule; not knowing your last performance date; calling you as they use your last photo; all of these things depress us and go to prove that the agent isn't listening, or if they are they're not hearing.

    I'm an optimist, which means I know that with all this work I will able to recognise the right one when he or she comes along.

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    As i said before i have applied for so much, whether it be email, sites like this or snail mail, but how do i know which ones to ignore and which ones to focus on? also i need your opinion. I had an audition with Chaplins for a panto, originally they said yes, knowing i had jury service to do before starting, then i phoned a week ago to ask whether there was still a place, they said no, then they phoned yesterday and said there was a space available and was i free and i said no!. I didn't want to work with them A. they had treated me so badly and B. my heart wasn't in it (don't worry i didn't say the last sentence to them.

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Following on from Philly's comments: I feel one job out of four auditions is still good considering you only left drama school in July. Personally, I've had at least 11 or 12 auditions since moving to London this year, and landing only 2 jobs. Hang in there.

    In regards to representation I feel an agent, a good one, is important. Through my experience, I have come to the conclusion that having an agent is like a stamp of approval. An actor with an agent is more likely to be considered for work if he/she is represented by an agency - especially so in the film/tv industry. Of course I may be wrong.

    I have represented myself now for over a year and have found it to be a positive challenge. I have made more contacts on my own than I did through representation in the past. But, in order to progress to the next level (and to take some of the weight off my shoulders) I am now searching for an agent.

    After all, its a team game. You work for them, they work for you. Of course there must be a mutual understanding of what's expected of both parties; otherwise it's waste of time.

    Kind regards,

    KS.

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    i agree with the agent relationship thing. I have an agent like i said but its beena one sided relationship, i have done all the work myself while they have done nothing. Their website never seems to be up to date, and i have emailed each week, with them always saying they haven't put me up for anything,

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Mark Joseph

    Actor

    Self representation is a very important skill, and one that an actor should employ for their entire career, even when thet are represented.

    However, I truly believe you need an agent.

    It is very simple. Mainstream work DOES NOT ADVERTISE, anywhere. Breakdowns are released in certain places, and only agents have access to it. So if you want to be put forward for mainstream TV, theatre, film commercials, etc, you literally have no choice. Either you get an agent, or join a co-op and pay to take on that role yourself.

    Mark.

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Lucy Perkins

    Actor

    The only problem with not having an agent is that you then won't have access to info on the higher end jobs. That's why we have agents, they have relationships with the biggest and best casting directors in the UK and they are the conduit. I think you'd find it very difficult to land decent film/TV auditions off your own back. Not impossible, but difficult. Most of the work I've got recently has been down to me, but they're low paid and not reliable jobs and without a decent agent, probably always will be. I believe agents are necessary in the long run.

    Hope this helps,

    Lucy x

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Hi All,

    Mark and Lucy. I'm totally behind your comments regarding the need for a good agent that will find you work that pays according to your talent and PROFESSIONAL status and also the kind of work you would not be able to submit yourself for on account of not knowing anything about it! We all know, being members of this casting site, as well as many other sites out there, that the majority of the work advertised is unpaid or expenses only. Trailing through the endless ads for "unpaid/deferred" "expenses only", it ignites a real feeling of frustration. I do believe that there are a lot of people out there who want the opportunity to just do what they love and are trained to do, who want to create film/TV/theatre and do so with passion and drive. What frustrates me is that so much of the work offered is unpaid. It seems the vast majority is unpaid or expenses only. I think this profession loses many talented people through this alone and not because they don't have the staying power or discipline to keep going regardless of the knock-backs, but rather they come to a point where an income of any sort is needed! Where are those people who can actually pay their actors? I understand there are a lot of film makers out there that are in the same boat as us actors, but COME ON! Where are the "employers"!! I think that they are missing out by not coming to these sites. People on these sites have so much to give to any production. I read these boards most days and follow the discussions with interest. I'd be interested to see how others feel about endless unpaid work. Sorry for the moan on a Wednesday and good luck to all you professionals out there!!

    Shannon

    xx

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    This is more for Julian than adding my comments to the agent debate, but basically did someone tell you that you wouldn't reach your commercial potential until you were 30 or was this your own decision?

    I would like to know if this is professional advice or not because I suddenly thought 'oh my God, am I missing out on some fundamental career timeline thing that everyone has got going on and I don't and therefore I will fail in my efforts to make something of this industry...aarrrghhh'.

    Only if you don't mind, if you do then just tell me to mind my own business!

    H xx

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Hi Helen,

    No it was not professional advice. It was just an innate knowledge I had. After drama school I worked well but found many castings were inappropriate. I was in the unfortunate postion (can you beleive it) of not looking my age. I looked younger but behaved older and people just didn't know where to put me. Getting the job wasn't the issue. Getting the audition was!

    So I discovered that the roles I was best suited to fitted the 'young dad' mould rather than the 'cheeky twentysomething'.

    It's not something everyone should do, but I do think it's good to know where you feel comfortable, both in playing age and character.

    J

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Augustine Flint-Hartle

    Actor

    Hi,

    Just to add ... I agree to have an agent is better than not... but then the question is which agent? and how do I get that one?

    I do have an agent which was due to me networking, being introduced to them and then inviting them to a show. All very lucky really but then I made the luck by getting out there.

    The majority of my work comes from my own contacts but one moment it's happy sailing and the next its dead calm... but there is the knowledge that my agent is sending me for the castings that I don't see or hear about.

    With regards to unpaid work...er I just can't afford it.. I will look at projects and weigh them up but usually it's a no...

    Augustine x

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    I will do unpaid work in the event that there isn't an abundance of paid work (whenever that's likely to be?) but what really riles me is when they ask for two weeks of your time, then it's not on. If they are happy to work around you then I think it's always good to be involved in any kind of acting not only for your cv but for your confidence as well. People do the same in other industries not to the extent that it is somewhat exploited in ours but remember that feeling you get when landing your dream 'paid' role, nothing beats that, so keep your noses to the grindstone and we will all get to that paid job eventually.

    Blimey, I'm feeling optimistic today?!

    H x

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Oh, and plus, you never know what the student directors of today will be working on tomorrow!

    H x

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Alexander Helm

    Actor

    I think self-representation seems to be part of the process of getting work. I think if you have represented yourself for a long time it puts you in a strong situation when looking for agents as you know how you want to be represented. Knowing the direction you want to go in seems to be half the battle. Judging from my experience as a dancer there seems to many avenues into the world of performing arts. Some of the top actors are out of work for several years despite awards and loads of recognition. My problem seems to be getting a foot in the door in the first place with regards to hearing about castings or auditions and then people giving you opportunity to prove what you can do.

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 14
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    I think self represention or/and agent is an ongoing subject for a lot of actors, as its been mentioned an agent is nessesary to gain access to higher level jobs but noone looks after something at belongs to you better than yourself in this case your career. The thing i have found with some agents is that they have a certain amount of actors who seemed to be put forward over and over again and when a job comes along that the select few are not suited or not interested its as if the agent tosses the other actors on their books an bone. Best bet do both if your not happy with your agent look for another one

    I don't mind doing upaid/expences only as long as the producer/director understand that a paid job takes president i don't like to let people down but you never know wants around the corner and i find doing unpaid work keeps your skills toned up working with others actors there always something to learn and improve

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Interesting topic.

    I have found a lot of my work myself for example I sent a CV into Qdos from a fringe show i did and ended up getting 5 seperate jobs out of them!

    I think it can be great to represent yourself and having an agent can certainly find new opportunities for you.

    There is no right or wrong answer it really depends on you, how much work you want to put in and where you want your career to go. You might have lots of contacts in the field you want to work in already so why not try them directly first. Again everyones situation is different and we are all so quick to judge and tell them what is best.

    You might prefer to have an agent do all the work or you might want to be in total control until you land your first job. I think a combination of the two is great for me as I am continuingly looking for opportunities and possible open doors.

    Here's a thought.

    Elijah Wood sent in a video his friend shot of him to Peter Jacksons casting office for Frodo in Lord of the Rings because he heard they were casting and the rest is history. I'm sure he has an agent now to handle all his business because he is in the big film league now and an actor of that league needs one especially for the legal aspect of contracts etc.

    Anyway Good Luck keep positive and you have to be in it to win it!

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Caroline Boulton

    Actor

    Did u know Eiljah woods was in Back to the Future II. Hes one of the boys on the computer game in the cafe, he had I believe about 12 pro credits before Lord of the Rings and was a child actor so I guess his video with CV was well recieved by Peter Jackson!. I love Back to the Future, I spend much too much time watching it! x

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    It just goes to show though that even he self submitted himself for the job because he believed he was right for it.

    He was only 17 when he filmed it watched the making of it dvd at the weekend what a fantastic project.

    Peter Jackson loves finding new talent.

    Inspiration to us all.

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • User Deleted

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    Best of luck to everyone currently representing themselves: most of us have endured it at one time or another and it's hard.

    My point is really about the value of taking unpaid work - I can see no advantage in doing it, unless as a way of putting material together for a showreel. In fact, I think it could be argued that accepting unpaid work is actually detrimental to the actor and to the profession - potentially driving down fees and lowering the standing of actors as a whole.

    Think about it - when you work for nothing does your "employer" truly value you as a professional? Is the gamble that, sometime in the future, when this currently cash-poor director has "made it" (enormous odds already) and they're making films or tv programmes, that they are going to remember you as that great actor who did a splendid, professional job for them when they were just starting out and that they will insist that you are called in to work with them because they owe you a favour? Come on. Surrounded by casting directors and producers with their own axes to grind regarding casting, it's never going to happen. You're already looking at lottery-sized odds even without the handicap of self-representation. Even worse, you could be thought of as just "the kind of actor that you can get for nothing". No one wants that.

    As actors we spend so much of our time just wanting someone to want us that it allows people to exploit that frailty by offering "work" without payment. Personally, I think it stinks. What other kind of professional would work for nothing? And what does an unpaid job on an actor's cv say to a prospective employer about that actor - that they love their craft and they're keen and willing to learn? Nice to think so but I doubt it. That they can't get a proper acting job and are desperate? I'd love to be wrong but I think that's a more likely interpretation. I suspect that at best it would be seen as the thespian equivalent of vanity publishing.

    I fully appreciate that actors will never stand together and refuse to take unpaid work - it's not in our nature, full of optimism and dreams, always thinking the best of other people, needing people to like us. Which just makes it all the more desperately sad. I'm saying this as an actor that's managed to make a living for twenty years - and for most of those years they've been financially much tougher than could have been achieved by doing virtually anything else with my life. And no - I wouldn't change it for the world.

    When my career began there was a lot less of the "expenses and a copy" culture and I have to admit to never doing a "job" under those conditions. Certainly, I've worked for nothing before - a couple of times for genuine friends that needed a hand with their graduation films and a couple of times when the promised cheques have either never arrived or have bounced. Please don't accept the employer's poverty without asking who else on the production is working for nothing. You're a professional - demand remuneration. If you don't, then think of the message that's giving to them about yourself and actors generally. What that remuneration is depends entirely to you - if £5 is enough, demand it. Likewise £50/£500/£5000 whatever, just don't allow yourself to be exploited in the hope that someone will eventually be as generous to you as you are being to them. And if, in time, people realised that actors had self respect and wanted to be genuinely valued as professionals then that would be marvellous.

    Please excuse the rant, I can actually be reasonably good company at times, and best of luck to everyone on this splendid site.

    Cliff

    • 1st Jun 2006
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