How To Get An Agent
Why, why, why?
For new performers, and even those already experienced, trying to find an interested agent can be a real trial. Rejection after rejection: no one seems to think you're good enough. Your career is at an end before it's even had a chance to flourish. Damn it, why can't they see you've got what it takes!
Who Says You Were Even Rejected?
The hardest challenge actors must learn to overcome is the habit of taking rejection too personally. Many fail to realize that the agent may actually have agreed that the actor was bound for success, but that the agent simply didn't have an opening in their talent roster. Regardless of how good they thought you were, there was just no way for them to represent you.
Instead of accepting this possibility, performers have a very bad habit of getting down on themselves... "maybe I'm not really good enough afterall."
Before you let the depression overtake you again, let's look at how you may have been destroying opportunities before you even got your foot in the door. By the end of this article, you may find you can pick and choose from several interested agents.
Slots in a Roster
Unlike an Extras' agent, which needs to sign on as many possible performers for every category; a principal agent must be very selective of how they fill their roster. An Extra agent may need 1500 people to meet the needs of background casting, but a principal agent will usually cut off their list of talent at 60-80 clients. Why so few? You need to understand how both types of agents operate...
Extras' agents must handle large, daily casting calls in bulk. They might get a call to send out 30 street people for one scene, and 10 socialites for another. They try to handle these castings by maintaining as many people in every category possible. It's not unusual for them to provide talent for three or four hundred booking each week.
Principal agents simply doesn't get calls for quantity bookings. Instead, they get a breakdown of the roles to be auditioned, and must submit the client(s) from their roster who they feel may be appropriate. The principal casting director will often sort through hundreds of submissions, and narrow the choices down to a select ten or twenty people to be brought in for the little audition time available.
Since auditions aren't usually set up for "come who may," the agent has already surmounted a formidable task just getting some of their talent in to be seen. There's just no way for them to keep all their talent working all the time. For that reason, they try to cover as many bases as possible with the fewest number of actors for each category.
Often, they'll allocate two or three openings per category (female/male, age ranges, types/characters, etc.) The casting department would be furious if all agents submitted every person in the roster for each job. Casting needs the list trimmed down as best possible before their own cuts. The agent responds by focussing their submissions in hopes that one or two will get a chance to audition. If they overfill a category, then it means their efforts must be divided too thinly.
As you can see, if an agent represents too many people per category, then fewer in their total roster would work as often. There simply aren't enough roles for everybody. If the actors can't audition, they don't work. If they don't work, then they look for representation elsewhere (and the agent loses future commissions).
Remember this next time you're rejected: the agent may have loved you, but if their slots for your category were already filled, then they simply couldn't represent you properly. They've actually done you a favor in turning you down. You now have the opportunity to find an agent who is absolutely dying for someone like you to fill a vacancy in their files.
But They Won't Even Look At Me
Don't kill your chances before you've even started. If you could listen in to an agent's office, you would quickly hear the biggest annoyance they must face. Twenty to fifty calls come in daily from people wanting to be represented. Agents literally spends hours just fielding requests for interviews by new people. Most calls are demands for the agent's most valued, and protected, treasure: their time.
Agents don't care how wonderful you say you are when they've got work to do, and no opening to place you in to begin with. They've heard every story a hundred times. Yet people still insist on relating their life history and dreams over the phone, hoping this will somehow magically show that they really are different. Newsflash!!! Thousands of others are just as certain that they're different too... Agents have heard it all so many times they can probably ramble off your spiel faster than you.
Want to know the trick that will really shock an agent into giving you an interview? Here it is: "Don't ask them [for anything]"... After fifty calls asking for time, interviews, meetings, or whatever; suddenly you pop up and don't even want anything from them. Well, we all know you really do, but now you really have a chance to pique their curiosity.
Every time they answer the phone, they're on automatic defenses. They're just waiting for that familiar "can I have..." line. Now you phone: they're waiting for the speech when suddenly -- it never comes...
The best way to grab their attention is by really being different. Acknowledge how valuable their time is by not asking them for it. Agents are so taken aback by this approach, they often offer the time themselves.
Continue reading: The Plan Of Attack >>
By Bill Tarling
Acting Agents & Acting Managers - What's the Difference?
How To Get An Agent Part II