Just about the only way to get an audition for a professional film or television gig is if you have an agent. Every actor wants a good agent–an agent that knows the business, is excited about their talent, and pushes hard to get you seen by local casting directors.

But once you have an agent, what then? Maintaining a good relationship with your agent is just as important as choosing the right agent in the first place. Here are a few things that every actor should remember.

i) It’s a business relationship.

It’s better to be in business with friends, so most agents and actors maintain a friendly relationship. Don’t forget that it’s still a business relationship, and when in doubt be as professional and polite as possible. If you are rude or abusive to your ‘friend’ the agent, you may find that they drop you the second that you stop booking regular work.

ii) Agents only make money if you make money.

Agents have nothing to gain from suggesting that you get new photos, take a class, cut your hair or dress up for your next audition because they are NOT ALLOWED to take “kickback” money from photographers, studios, classes, etc. The only way your agent makes money is if you make money, so if they suggest something it’s because they think it will help you book work and make money. So if they suggest it, do it. Don’t just wait for your agents suggestions, either. Part of your job as an actor is to make opportunities for yourself by keeping your promo materials up to date, networking in the industry, doing student and independent films, doing theatre, whatever it takes to help you book work. If you’re booking work, that helps keep everybody happy.

iii) Agents are incredibly busy.

One agent will represent 40-80 actors, sometimes more. If they only spend 5min on each client, that’s still between four and seven hours of work each day. Agents are in the office for seven or eight hours a day minimum, and casting directors and actors often call them at weird hours. Their day starts with reading the “breakdowns” sent out every day by local casting directors listing roles that are coming up for auditions. They read through the breakdowns, submit their clients, follow up with casting directors by phone, call actors to arrange auditions or callbacks, meet with new actors, and deal with at least one actor throwing a temper tantrum each week. Plus, they have personal lives and families and weird hobbies and all sorts of things that they periodically neglect so they can take care of what their actors need. So cut them some slack. It’s okay to check in with your agent once a month or so, but DON’T call them after every audition, DON’T throw a temper tantrum because you’re not getting enough auditions, DON’T vent your personal issues on your agent, and TRUST that they’re doing the best job they can or find yourself a new agent. Everyone wants to be treated in a friendly, respectful manner, especially when they’re working as hard as most agents do.

iv) Agents and casting directors.

Agents work hard to maintain good relationships with casting directors, it’s one of the most important parts of their job. Your agent’s reputation and relationship helps you get that first audition with a casting director, or that first read for a bigger part, etc. If you do well in that casting session, it makes you AND your agent look good. If you come in unprepared, looking nothing like your headshot, if you’re rude or just plain terrible all those things make you AND your agent look bad. Agents worry about that kind of thing, it makes them nervous. Before your agent takes a risk and submits you for a big project, they want to know that you have the acting chops to do the audition and book the role. So let your agent know about the classes you’re taking and the indie or student films you do. Make sure that your agent has watched a current copy of your demo reel. Assure them that you’ll go in prepared for every audition, with coaching if necessary. Read the breakdown in detail so you know who’s casting, who’s directing, what you should wear, and all those other little details. Try to figure it out yourself first, and only if you’re stuck contact your agent for advice. If you really don’t know what to do, ask for help and let your agent help you make a good impression. Act like a professional and you’ll be treated like a professional.

I hope that this helps! Feel free to email me with feedback, questions, corrections or comments mbean@bizstudio.ca

Have some great auditions, and thanks for reading the Biz Studio Hotsheet!

Michael Bean
Head Coach, Biz Studio


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