FBF – What Your Agent Does For You

Many actors are unclear as to exactly what they can expect of their agents.  Let’s go back into the vault for a refresher.

Getting an agent is the hard part, right? (see Doing the Impossible: Getting an Agent ) You spend ages sending your pictures and resumes to every agent listed, you ask casting directors, friends of friends, and your manager for recommendations and referrals. You finally get the meeting and you’re signed, and you’re feeling positive about your agent and the team at their company–and then the real work begins. When you sign with an agent, you start a collaborative process that will last for your whole career.-. from that point forward, you depend on their talents, skills, and knowledge to get you in a room, especially at first. While your own talent will undoubtedly propel you forward as you meet more casting directors and get work, it’s your agents who put your foot in the door. The whole process seems streamlined and unbelievably easy as you receive appointment emails several times a week, and suddenly you’re in the room for episodics, short films, and even features. Your agent’s job is not just sending your picture, resume, and demo to a casting office. Your agent works for you, and it’s important to know what their job really entails:

1. What are your agent and agency’s specialties? Before you even sign with an agent, make sure they’re the right fit for you and you’re the right fit for them. Getting caught up in the urgency of needing an agency can lead you down the wrong path, at times, and lead to unhappiness in the future. While many agencies have a vast array of clients and specialties, certain companies and agents have more connections and knowledge in certain areas. For example, a literary agent generally works to get writers jobs–and they may not be the best fit for an actor. Another example: an agent who specializes in commercials might not be as helpful in theatrical endeavors. There are exceptions to every rule, of course (just because an agent primarily has literary clients, doesn’t mean their choice to branch off into theatrical clients won’t be incredibly successful),but it’s important to be aware of an agency’s specialty when signing with your agent.

2. Understand what an agent does for you. Agents, throughout the course of their career, make relationships with casting directors, their associates, and casting executives at studios. They are aware of every project that is posted on Cast It and other casting sites and they submit you and your fellow actors to these projects. From there, it’s not just about waiting and hoping they’ll pick you to read–your agent will call these offices, will follow up for you. They will sell you to these casting directors, will encourage them to give you a chance if they don’t know who you are, : bottom line, they will get you in the room, where the job will then be yours to get. Your agent works hard in creating and maintaining these relationships with these casting offices. They often spend years sometimes them, all for the good of their clients, which in turn, is good for their own business.

3. Know that your relationship with your agent is built on mutual respect. Your agent works hard for you and their other clients. After you go in there and nail a job, after you’re offered a role or asked to test for a studio or network, they’re at bat for you, negotiating the terms of your deal and ensuring you get the best monetary, dressing room, and credits offer they can get. They believe in the work you’re capable of and want to make sure you’re happy. That being said, their hard work is based on the respect they have for you as an actor and person, and it should be mutual.If you’re not called in for an audition on a project you wanted, don’t assume it’s because your agent isn’t doing their job. It’s important to be aware that there are other points at play: the casting director just might not be sold on you based on your materials (which is why it’s important to ensure your headshot, resume and demo reel are up to date and flattering), or the producers and director of the project might be looking for something different than what was originally posted on the character breakdown (usually this happens after casting’s first sessions; they realize the character should be older or younger than what they were originally looking for, or should have a different look), or casting/the producers decided to put an offer out to a particular actor instead.

While it’s undoubtedly frustrating to not necessarily be reading for the roles you dream of right away, you need to trust that your agent is working hard for you. In turn, you need to work hard for them and put your all into the auditions you do get. As your career and name builds in the industry, your agent will find more and more open doors for you. The success rate is contingent on teamwork; it’s not just your agent’s job to get you booked – it’s yours. No matter how many auditions they get you, if you’re not preparing for auditions, if you’re not showing up to appointments and you’re not putting your all into becoming a professional, working actor . . .then it’s really on you if it doesn’t work out, and you may find yourself dropped from being a client. See Why Actors Get Dropped

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tara McGrath started her career in entertainment mainly because she couldn't see a life where she wasn't surrounded and inspired by actors in some way or another. After graduating from SUNY Purchase's Conservatory of Theatre Arts and Film with a degree in Screenwriting, she worked for a year at Roundabout Theatre Company in New York. Interning under their casting department with casting directors Carrie Gardner and Jim Carnahan, she assisted in casting such productions as Spring Awakening, American Idiot and Fox's hit show, Glee. From there she moved 3,000 miles to Los Angeles and for the last year has been working for a well-known boutique talent agency in West Hollywood. She has also worked as a reader and marketing assistant for the Blue Cat Screenwriting Competition and has worked on independent features as both producer's assistant and P.A.

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