Working with Your Agent
Your agent is like a dispatcher who can recommend you to casting agents, submit you for auditions, verify and negotiate your contract terms, and sometimes help track down what is owed (both of) you. Agents aren’t your “star maker” or manager (who exercise a lot more control over you and will take a larger percentage of your pay). Remember, since your agent gets 10% of either your session fee or in addition to your session fee, that means you do 90% of the leg work in looking for opportunity and work! It is a business relationship that must work for both parties, otherwise it’s time to part ways when your contract is up (possibly sooner).
An agent may initially “hip pocket you” (informally send you out and see if you get any callbacks/bookings), before signing you to a longer “exclusive” contract. When you sign with an agent, you are obligated to only audition through them.
You can choose to sign with your agent for a year or two or three or even more– perhaps less at first, just to see how things go, then if it goes great, you may both choose to sign for a longer term. It is not a bad idea to run the terms of your agent’s contract by your union or an entertainment lawyer so that you understand the terms thoroughly and can make changes if needed. Understand the contract you’re thinking of signing. Be above board with concerns and questions for your agent– you are a team!
BEWARE THE BLAME GAME.
Actors often experience a slow down in their career’s momentum and it’s easy to blame your agent. But this is often unrealistic. The heavy lifting in moving your career forward is essentially your own responsibility. Growing as an artist, improving your creative powers, drawing employment to you is mostly your department. Remember, your agent only makes 10% of your session fee. This has always said to me that the actor/client is responsible for the vast majority of his/her career’s momentum, not the agent.
If you are having a slow down in work and career, perhaps it’s time to take stock of what you are doing and what you are putting out there rather than blame or even “fire” your agent. Have a frank discussion with your agent about your career, your auditions, your frequency of time at bat, whether you are getting to read for the right kinds of roles, anything either of you can do to better optimize your booking ratio. Try working out any issues first before considering switching agencies.
Sometimes a change of representation is indeed the right move, but you may find in retrospect that the issue wasn’t with your agent, but was in fact with you.
I just got an agent about a week ago…should I check in regularly with her…Maybe check in on how the process is going?
I’d be more inclined to occasionally let my new agent know what I’m up to- what I am doing to move my career along– e.g. Workshops, showcases, YouTube channel, progress on my new demo or website, etc. I’d rather be calling with “look what more I’ve got going and what more I’m bringing to the table,” rather than “What do you have for me?”
I never know what’s appropriate to ask of an agent. Right now it feels really slow, I’ve done two auditions…
Is there any way to have a conversation about wanting to do more auditions without sounding rude?
Here’s my take on calling up your agent to ask for more auditions: CLICK HERE
My agency has a voice over department, but I’m currently only represented by the film/tv agent. I want to expand that representation to VO… Do you believe it would be advisable to mention this to my film/tv agent in order to not submit myself cold, or would she have little interest, since booking with the VO agent wouldn’t make her any money?
You should feel free to ask your agent anything. There’s nothing precarious to set up. If you’ve got the goods your agency (or any agency) would want you. If you don’t like the terms or your agent’s attitude, get a new agent.
I got an offer today to work with an agency […], he told me he would send me paperwork in a few months (1-3), but that I can still do auditions he sends over. Is this typical?
Yes, it’s called “hip pocketing.” It is common. Because you’ve not signed a contract, you’re not bound to be exclusive to each other. You’re checking each other out- each seeing how the other performs before committing to a contract exclusivity. He’s free to drop you and you’re free to use other agents. If you perform well, then you “tie the knot” perhaps for a year to start (could be longer) by signing with the agency and then you’re exclusive to each other as partners for the term of the contract.