How to Work Effectively with Your Agent
When you sign with an agent it is important to have an understanding of the nature of the industry and your role in the process. By becoming familiar with the casting process you will have a better chance of landing jobs. It is also necessary to be aware of the expectations that your talent agent or manager will have of you. This article will provide an overview of the casting process and how to fulfill your end of the business relationship with your agent or manager.
Understanding the Casting Process
Before an actor can be cast in a role there is a whole series of events that must take place. Once you are aware of the complete process you will gain a better understanding of the roles involved and the larger picture. This will allow you to fully comprehend your part in the sequence and give you an uninhibited view of the most advantageous path.
The first segment of the casting process begins when a producer hires a casting director to locate the best actors for their project. After the casting director has been hired, they will send a message to talent representatives (managers and agents), which includes a summary of what type of person they are looking for. The job of the talent representative is to only submit actors they believe will fit the part for consideration.
The casting director will usually have a limited period of time to sort through hundreds and maybe even thousands of actor headshots once they receive them. This is why the quality of your headshot is so vital. After they have selected a list of candidates they need to meet with as many of them as possible in order to find the most ideal match. The actors that the casting director thinks will be the best match are then presented to their producer or director who will make the final decision.
Expectations for Talent
Having knowledge of the casting process gives you an idea of how challenging it can be to simply get an audition. Actors that are represented by an agent or manager have an edge over the competition because it gives them the connections of a professional in the industry. This is why it’s important to maintain your relationship with you agent or manager. There are several reasonable expectations that a talent representative will have for their talent.
- To be Available: You should not audition or sign with an agent until you are ready to work and willing to make the necessary accommodations.
- To be Accessible: If your agent or manager tries to contact you it should not take more than 20 minutes for you to get back to them. If you change phone numbers or addresses it is important to notify anyone representing you.
- To Keep in Touch: If you only call your agent late in the day they will already be done with their submissions to directors. Call them early on when it is necessary and only do so during regular business hours. Additionally, if you have upcoming circumstances that will keep you from being able to audition or work you should let them know beforehand.
- Supplying Headshots and Resumes: Making sure that your agent has an adequate supply of your headshots and resumes is your responsibility. Check in at regular intervals to see if they have enough in stock.
- To be Engaged and Active: Successful actors are always practicing and building their skills. This can involve performing in showcases and stage plays, or attending workshops and classes, etc. Many agents want their clients to create a listing of themselves on the Academy Players Directory or on IMDB.com.
- To Pay Commissions: This aspect of your relationship will be outlined in the terms of your contract.
You may also be expected to join trade unions as necessary (You should not join any union without consulting with your Agent or Manager first). Some of these trade unions may include:
- AEA (Actors Equity Association)
- SAG (Screen Actors Guild)
- AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists)
Relationships are an important aspect of working in any field. In the entertainment industry, the relationship that a performer has with their agent or manager is one of the key elements tied to their ability to succeed.