How To Get An Agent Part II
Most agents refuse any off-the-street drop-ins. In other words, they'll see new talent by appointment only. Don't bother phoning in for one (just yet), because without a face, you're just another voice: and unless that voice is absolutely incredible (and the agent handles a lot of voice-over work), it simply won't get you in.
Instead, mail off your photo and resume, along with a very special cover letter. What makes that letter so special? Simple... prove that you understand how valuable their time is:
So many people try cramming in their whole "hopes and dreams autobiography" into the cover letter, it resembles a chapter from a novel. The agent hasn't the time, nor the interest, to be a publisher. Any submission that takes more than 15 seconds to scan through and read will likely be filed in the trash.
Here's a sample of how to keep it short:
Attn: Ms. A. Gent
Please accept my photos and resume for possible consideration of future representation. I will contact your offices next week to verify your receipt of this package.
Thank you very much for your time,
That's it... nothing else... just plain and simple. The agent even has 10 seconds left to take a quick glance at your photo(s) and stats now.
The big trick comes the following week (give it a full week before calling in, and try to make the call on a Tuesday or Wednesday when they may be less frantic in the office). Just call up and say:
"Hi, my name's [Johnny Smartguy] and I'm just calling to confirm you received my photo and resume."
Chances are you'll get a response of "the agents will be looking at it", or "there are no openings right now, try back in a few months", or even the infamous "the agents will call you back if they're interested." Whatever the response, simply answer:
"No problem, I don't want to take up your time. I just promised I would make sure the package got there okay. I don't want to keep you. Thank you very much for your time [pause]"...
They'll either be impressed (and relieved) at the short conversation, or they'll be caught so off-guard that they'll try to explain further. If they haven't said goodbye, then just repeat a variation of your previous words [always offering them the opportunity to end the conversation and reinforcing that you know their time is valuable]. They're so used to the "can I come in" pleading that you've really thrown them for a loop by not asking them for something.
You just may have gotten your foot in the door. Not every door, mind you, but at least more than were opened for you previously. Play it by ear, and take it from here: hope you land those elusive interviews. Happy hunting...
By Bill Tarling, Copyright © 1996 - 2012. All Rights Reserved.
Bill Tarling is an experienced Extra and Principal performer working primarily out of Canada. He has also authored "In The Background... An Extra's Handbook" (ISBN 0-88924-267-4), edited and with additional material by Peter Messaline.