And what questions to ask once you meet them.
It’s still early 2021, and if finding a new agent is on your list of “to-dos” here are some tips to landing a great one.
First, like anything, think of what you want to get out of this partnership–because, yes, it is a partnership. So many people either think that
a) You work for your agent
b) Your agent works for you
But the truth is, you work with your agent. So, what does that mean? That you have a vision together of where you want to be, and how you want to get there. That means that you feel safe asking questions, reaching out, and getting feedback on your work. That means that you should be working to improve your game, invest in updated headshots, continue to hone your craft by taking classes/workshops–and inform your agent when you do these things.
In today’s social media world–it’s very easy. Just finished a great acting workshop? Post a photo and tag your agent. Got selected as a finalist in a monologue slam? Post a photo and tag your agent. New headshots? Send the proofs and ask for your agent’s advice for selects. You should be in constant communication with your agent, not just when you have an audition or booking. If you’re not so keen on social media–Send them an email every 6-8 weeks with a subject line: “Update-no need to respond”. This lets them know that you are keeping up with your craft and keeps your name at the forefront of their mind.
So, when you decide to sign with an agent, you probably want to keep these things in mind. Do they seem open to communicating the way you like? For example, I prefer email/text, so I don’t really want to be getting phone calls from my agent all the time. Are they open to offering feedback on audition tapes before submitting them to casting? Some may love that, some may be looking for more independent actors who already know they produce kickass audition tapes.
Do they have an expectation as to how many acting classes you need to take part in? What about availability? When I signed with my current agent, I was working fulltime, and a mom of young boys. I needed to be clear that I may not always be available. If there are scheduling conflicts, how do they deal with that? Are they happy with my current marketing materials (headshots, demo reels, resume) or do they expect me to spend money right away?
When you meet with an agent, you should be feeling like you’re interviewing them, as much as they’re interviewing you. Have your list of questions, and be ready to actually ask them–no matter how intimidated you may be feeling.
But, before you even get to submitting to an agency, here are some factors you should look into when narrowing down your search:
-Location (The market to which you want to work/live).
-Reviews (There may not be any, but you should check just in case).
-Affiliation with Unions/Associations in good standing
-The type of clients they rep (Theatre, TV/Film, VO, Modelling etc.)
-Actors on their roster. If there is a way to check their roster, you should. This will show you whether they have anyone there that looks familiar (that means they rep working actors), or anyone who looks like you (but don’t rule them out completely if they do–there are many other factors when deciding).
On top of all that, there are other nittier details you should be analyzing when deciding who to sign with. Now is a good time to listen to your gut. Just because there’s a popular agency out there, representing big names–doesn’t mean that it’s worth being treated like a number. Sometimes, it does not pay to be the small fish in the big pond. For one thing, you should feel comfortable when you meet with them. That means, that it seems they are just as excited to be meeting with you as you are with them.
A friend of mine recommended this one agency that she loved. But when I met with them, they were rude, and I felt like they weren’t listening to my questions, and I knew it wasn’t going to work out. With my current agency, I felt like they were prepared to answer my questions, and they understood me as a person. I knew right away I wanted to sign with them.
That all being said, here are some of (not all) the questions that you should definitely ask when meeting with an agent:
- If I do decide to join the agency, how long are the contracts?
-My agency had the option of 1 or 2 years. I signed 1 year at first, then re-signed for another 2 years.
- What is the expectation for my availability? If an audition comes in, and I can’t make that time, will you try to reschedule it?
-It is less of an issue now, since it’s mostly self-tapes/virtuals, but still good to know.
- Will you offer feedback on my audition tapes? Should I always send them to you first before submitting to casting?
- Are my current marketing materials good–or do you expect me to get new headshots/demo reel etc. right away?
- Do you have an expectation as to classes I need to take?
- How best do you like to communicate?
- How many people are on your team?
- What is your commission rate?
-In Canada, the standard is 10% for background actors, 15% for acting roles, 20% for modelling–double check in your area so you know whether an agency is charging more.
- If the production company is paying the agency fee already, do you still take your percentage off the final amount?
-I will elaborate, as this isn’t that common. I’ve personally only run into this three times in my career. This is when you can see in the breakdown that the production company is paying the agency fee directly to your agent–typically 20%. One would reason that, you then shouldn’t need to pay an additional 15% commission to the agency. But, this one is tricky–there’s not clear rule on it so some agencies say “yes, that fee is separate”, and others will say “no, that’s double dipping”.
- What is the vision for the agency and the artists?
-If they can’t answer this–it might be a red flag.
Hopefully I’ve given you a good starting off point, and inspired you to take action on your search for an agent. Comment below if you’re found these helpful, or if you think we should add more to the list.