Let’s talk about how to get an agent…

As with any industry, there are people who are extremely good at what they do and those who are not. It’s up to you to do your due diligence before signing on the dotted line.

When selecting an agent to represent you, you should keep in mind that this is a critical decision in your career. After all, this is the person who will be your biggest cheerleader; the person who will talk a reluctant Casting Director into seeing you; the person who will push you to be the consummate professional; the person who will scold you when you are not; the person who will negotiate for the highest rates possible and appropriate usage; the person who will guide your career, select your headshots and help create a resume; the person who will read any contract connected with a job and make necessary changes or additions; the person who will want your success as much as you do! That’s a lot and the reality is, a good agent is even more than just this!

The first thing you must do is visit the website of any agency in whom you are interested to see how they want talent to submit, i.e., snail mail or electronically? Do it their way! And only send the requested material, i.e. headshot and resume; demo reel; links to your work, etc. Don’t send them anything they haven’t asked for. It is a waste of your money and their time.

Attend meetings such as the Network Austin Mixer (www.networkaustinmixer.com) to talk with other talent about their agents. Talk to your coaches. Talk to industry people who are familiar with the various agents in your town. Do your homework!

Another reason to visit the websites is to determine how many of “you” that agency already represents. If they already have 4 or 5 or 6 people who look similar to you, same ethnic background, hair and eye color, approximate age, you may want to move on. It’s hard enough to get an audition, but facing stiff intra-agency competition, isn’t very smart. Most agents are reluctant to have too many similar people anyway!

Put together a business letter to send with your material. Parents, we’ve all heard a million times that everyone stops you in the mall, the restaurant, the church, the park and on and on to see if your little Shirley Temple is in movies… Remember, this is a business letter in which you merely state that you are currently seeking representation for yourself (or your child). It should be warm and friendly, but to the point. You should also state that you are enclosing whatever it is that you are enclosing.

If you don’t yet have professional photography, enclose a recent digital shot of your head and shoulders being certain that you are in front of a plain background. No hats, sunglasses, bling, busy prints, etc. Also enclose a second photo that shows your body (casual clothing that is flattering) so they can see your weight in proportion to your height. They want to see you! So make sure you are visible! You might want to mention that you are looking forward to getting professional photography, but are waiting for the guidance of your new agent before doing so.

On the back of the photos, be sure and legibly print your name, height and weight (don’t lie) and cell number. Parents list all that plus the DOB of your child and your name and cell number. Staple those photos to your resume.

In closing the letter, be sure and thank them for their time and consideration. Tell them that you are looking forward to an opportunity to meet at their convenience. And then the wait begins…

In my classes, I also suggest that if you are submitting via snail mail, you enclose a self-addressed, stamped postcard that the agent can slip back in the mail to you. It should have “Call me ASAP”, “Call me next week”, “Resubmit in 3 months” and, “Don’t give up your day job” or words to that effect. Remember the agent is telling you to call, resubmit or go away, so put something on the card that they can circle or cross out. Use your imagination!

If you don’t hear back, then resubmit in a month or two.

It is perfectly okay to submit to several agencies at the same time. If you only go with one at a time, you could end of waiting several months between submissions hoping to hear from someone.

So, now the agency has responded and they want to meet you! Hooray and congratulations! But, be prepared. Usually agents will want you to have a dramatic monologue and a comedic monologue, 1 ½ – 2 minutes. Sometimes, they will give you sides for a cold reading. Just go be yourself and do your best! That’s all you can do.

If a contract is offered, don’t be so quick just because someone finally wants to represent you. If you have another appointment, just let the agent know that you’d like to take the contract home and read it over before you sign anything. And, you should do that! Always read any legal document before you sign it!

Questions you should ask during an interview UNLESS you have been able to determine the answers via their websites:

1. How long have you been in business?
2. How long have you been an agent?
3. How did you get started as an agent?
4. Have you worked for other agencies?
5. How many people do you represent who are similar to me?
6. Does your agency have private clients who don’t work with other agencies?
7. Do you work with all the major Casting Directors in the area?
8. Is your contract exclusive throughout the State of Texas?
9. Is your contract exclusive for other states, i.e. Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, California?
10. What are your agency fees?
11. What do you charge annually for my presence on your website?
12. Are there any other fees for other services?
13. When do they pay you after they have received a check from a company who has hired you? One week? Two weeks?

I’m sure there are other questions, but this will definitely get you started. Most of this information will probably be discussed during regular conversation. I am not suggesting that you put the agent on the defensive, but you have a right to know! Remember, you are hiring the agent, not vice versa!

This is a job interview! Treat it as one. Show respect, be warm and friendly, listen to all the information and then make an informed decision.

A word of warning, since the State of Texas MOST UNFORTUNATELY no longer requires a bond or a license, be very careful. Every Tom, Dick and Harry can call themselves a “Talent Agent” but that certainly doesn’t mean they are.

There is NO fee to be represented by a legitimate agency. NO agency should require you to take their classes in order to be signed. NO agency should require you to use their photographer for your headshot. The only time an agency makes money is when you do. They take their agency fee out of your earnings before sending you a check.

Thanks to all of you who have been kind enough to write about the monthly column. And, as always, thanks to Dan Eggleston for his approval in doing this and posting it to his various sites.

Let me know if you have any specific questions you’d like answered.

And remember, I am expressing my opinion only, not that of any other CD. Also, always keep in mind, that your agent has the final word on everything pertaining to your career, so listen to him/her!

Happy Mother’s Day! Happy Memorial Day!

Hope to see all of you on Wednesday, May 13th at the Network Austin Mixer featuring a panel of local Casting Directors! Come early! Stay late! PLEASE CARPOOL! For more information visit www.networkaustinmixer.com

Donise L. Hardy, CSA
© May 1, 2015

Posted by: Donise Hardy on May 4, 2015 @ 4:22 pm
Filed under: For What It's Worth

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