Catch-22: Agents and Spotlight

  • User Deleted

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    I'm starting the process of researching agents in the hopes that once I've gotten my showreel put together I can start applying for one. The trouble is, I've run into a serious Catch-22 as an actress without a degree from a drama school/uni drama program. Without a Spotlight account, most agents won't even look at me, but without an agent, it's pretty tough to come by the roles that will get me onto Spotlight now that they don't accept short films or voiceover work (there goes half of my professional work!).

    So what's an actor to do if they want to push through into professional acting? I'm taking roles that will lead to showreel material, but not necessarily Spotlight membership. I think I have two credits in pre-production that could add to my count, but not necessarily. I'm not sure what qualifies a credit as "professional" beyond not being a student production.

    Any advice, folks? I know the showreel is important, but what else should I be doing to attract an agent before I qualify for Spotlight/Equity?

    • 6th Dec 2012
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  • User Deleted

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    Hi,

    I would argue that to attract an agent even with Spotlight most agents will want to see you perform on stage, to get a taste of your presence as a performer so I would recommend that you start looking for Profit-share fringe and apply for roles that you know you can do well. Certainly, come Jan/Feb the board on CCP will be full to the brim of new shows. Once in these you should (I presume) also be able to put them on your professional CV.

    May I also give you some advice about the productions. Try to be involved in the shows within zones 1-2. This will mean an agent is much more likely to come and see you than if you're performing in Hampton or whatever.

    Hope this helps,

    Tom.

    • 3rd Dec 2012
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  • User Deleted

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    Thanks for the tip! However, in wild contrast to many in London, I'm not all that interested in theatre parts. I'm much more interested in screen acting, so I don't even go out for plays anymore. I'd rather spend that time working on smaller film and TV projects as I think it's better to work in the medium I want to end up in. That could be a mistake, but I figured that if I did a bunch of plays early on, I would end up having a difficult time transitioning into screen work.

    • 3rd Dec 2012
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  • Angela Plater

    Actor

    Hi Liz Nothing to add to Tom's great advice but just to say that I am in the same position but with expectedly less time in which to succeed:(

    Good luck to us both

    Angela

    x

    • 4th Dec 2012
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  • User Deleted

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    If you want to be seen as a credible professional actor you should train. Acting is an art and even the most talented need to need to study. Take a year out and do a screen acting course. You get instant Spotlight eligibility and you will learn more than you think there is to know.

    • 4th Dec 2012
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  • User Deleted

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    I'm not completely untrained, I have 12 years of experience doing several types of acting, I just haven't seen it as a career possibility until very recently. If I had the financial ability to take a year out and do a (rather expensive) course, I would do so, but only for the right course. Alas, we don't all have the luxury. I plan to start doing some short courses when my finances allow, but right now I'm doing okay without a degree in drama and just doing workshops and drop-ins as I can.

    I think my best course of action right now is to speak to the folks at Spotlight and Equity about how to go about getting involved with them. I would very much like to be on Spotlight and in Equity, it's just a matter of qualifying and they're pretty vague as to what constitutes a qualifying credit. It's possible I might qualify for one or the other very soon, but I need to chat with someone to work that out. I'll worry about an agent after I get on Spotlight and have a showreel. After some much-needed DMs with advice, I think I'm getting ahead of myself worrying about agents right now anyway. I'm prone to looking too far ahead, so I'll quit doing that and focus on getting parts I'm proud to be attached to and can put in a Showreel.

    • 4th Dec 2012
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  • Deborah Klayman

    Actor

    Hi Liz,

    You mentioned you have short film and voiceover material, so do you have enough to craft a showreel (even a very short one) from material you already have while you look for further work? If so, I would strongly recommend getting that done and online and making yourself as visible as possible.

    You can do good classes at the Actors Centre that aren't too expensive and that will also afford you networking opportunites. I get the majority of my work through people I have worked with before, CastingCallPro and CastNet, so althogh my agent and Spotlight are very important you shouldn't be totally excluded from the industry without them.

    That said, I went to an accredited drama school so have always been on Spotlight, and when I go to Casting Workshops such as Casting Fusion the casting directors and agents always say you must be in Spotlight - frustrating I know.

    There are things you can do: join Shooting People if you're primarily looking for screen work, look at rehearsed readings of plays etc which are a short time commitment, write to film schools with your CV. You can also write your own film and shoot it - I did!

    Hope this helps,

    Regards,

    Deborah

    • 4th Dec 2012
    • 6
  • User Deleted

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    Hi Deborah,

    I am working at getting material together for a showreel. Unfortunately when I did my voice over work, I was too new to the industry to know to ask for a copy of my work, so I don't have anything to show for it. I got paid, but as the company is in the Czech Republic and the game is already on shelves, I don't know that it would be possible to get the material now :(. Hindsight is 20/20 there, I'm afraid. It's the same deal with the other voice over work, too. Same company, same problem. At the time, I didn't think acting was going to be a career, so I didn't think to get any of that. Silly me! My most recent short film is a possibility. I will get in touch with the director to see about getting a copy.

    Thanks for the support. I'm going to make a point of visiting the offices of Equity and Spotlight to see what they say about my next steps. I do an acting drop-in workshop once a week right now and I'm still auditioning for a lot of things (at least one a week right now), so I'm staying positive. I just need to stop trying to plan my next step and focus on the steps right in front of me, I think. ;)

    • 4th Dec 2012
    • 7
  • Deborah Klayman

    Actor

    Hi Liz,

    You're welcome ;-) Voice and Film showreels are different, so if you want to focus on film/tv acting I would prioritise the screen showreel and worry about a voice one later.

    I do a lot of voice work, and I paid to go into a studio and record my showreel ten years ago and am still using it. It is easier in many ways as you don't have to rely on others or wait for material to be sent, plus you can edit and add effects to recordings later. Also, your voice reel wont age like a screen one! I have separate acting and voice agents, and I would definitely recommend looking for a specific voice agent rather than relying on an acting agent to find you that work.

    For screen showreels, even if you have one piece at the moment if you are happy with your performance and the quality is ok get it online asap. Most castings are done from showreels these days, particularly in screen media, so that really is a must. I know it is a Catch 22 again, but if you have something already that is a great start. I had a few bits but needed more material so shot some scenes with a filmmaker friend to complete mine and I am already getting more work.

    All the best,

    Deborah

    • 4th Dec 2012
    • 8
  • Deborah Klayman

    Actor

    ps. You have a native American accent right? If so you may find voiceover work easier to get in to as there are fewer people with that accent and generally voice jobs (commercials etc) are cast for your natural voice. Look up SOH (www.soh.co.uk), a voice company based in West London, as they are regularly sending castings out for a variety of accents.

    • 4th Dec 2012
    • 9
  • User Deleted

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    Thank you! I was actually wondering if it made sense to get a separate voice agent. My reels have to wait a little bit for me to scrape the cash together to pay for them. Money is a big limiting factor at the moment and I'm trying to decide where to spend it first. My showreel is a priority right now as it is a bare necessity. I have two projects that will result in great showreel material, but we're in pre-production still and they won't be in the can until at least February.

    It's definitely good to know that my accent will be an asset in voice work. I did notice that there weren't many native Americans in the VOA books I looked at. Depending on how things go, I may get that reel taken care of first to help me get some paid work while I sort out everything else. It's definitely something to ponder while I save up.

    Thanks again for the insight. It's given me something to think about.

    • 4th Dec 2012
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  • Ffion Evans

    Actor

    Hi Liz,

    I've literally yesterday just been accepted onto Spotlight and was accepted by an agent in September. I don't have any drama school training and managed to get an agent and Spotlight membership without so I think perseverance is the key. Rather than email millions of big agencies perhaps look for ones who specialise in what you'd like to do or ones who are expanding their books. My agent was a child representative but opened a new book for adults so was already looking for clients. He wanted people with Spotlight memberships but I invited him to come see me in a show instead. He couldn't make the show but agreed to arrange a meeting and decided to take me on so long as I could join Spotlight as soon as possible. I'd already been recieving quite a lot of interest on CCP for small paid roles and managed to get enough to make up my 4 credits for Spotlight. So really there are ways around these things as long as you know what to say to who and when (does that make sense? Ha!)

    Best of luck,

    Ffion

    • 5th Dec 2012
    • 11
  • User Deleted

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    Hi Liz,

    I am in exactly the same boat as you. In some ways, it is reassuring to know I am not alone! But let me give you some advice from what I have discovered so far.

    Having only decided to try professional acting earlier this year, I am not a drama school graduate but I have been acting all my life with over 50 stage shows, 8 films/short films. I don't doubt that I would learn a great deal at Drama school but like you, I simply cannot afford it.

    The frustration for me was that I found most theatre companies would not audition me for roles without my having attended drama school and although the odd paid screen job was advertised on CCP, the majority are unpaid, even if they are high quality productions and lead roles. Like you, I couldn't get onto Spotlight without my 4 professional credits and couldn't find an agent without being on Spotlight (or having attended drama school).

    Everything that everyone has said already is great advice and there is no one true way of gettign there.

    In terms of getting a showreel together. If money is tight,my advice is that you could contact the showreel filming companies out there (just google "Showreel filming" and you'll find a load of them. They always need actors to play opposite their clients who are paying for a showreel to be filmed. These companies pay you with a copy of the scene and reimbursing your expenses. By doing this with two or three scenes from these companies you will be able to amass enough footage to put together your own showreel as a starting point. Once you have that, it does make a slight difference in terms of improving your application/audition rate but getting on Spotlight with a showreel will make the most difference.

    Then you can do your best to get onto Spotlight and then try your best to attract an agent.

    As Ffion has said, it's not impossible to get an agent without being on Spotlight, just very rare.

    I hope that helps in some way and if you have any success, please post it as I am sure a lot of us could benefit from the knowledge.

    Good luck and all the best,

    Luke

    • 6th Dec 2012
    • 12