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Agent or Manager?
How To Get An Agent Or Manager
What is the difference between a manager, and an agent?
Glad you asked. Itís quite simple really.
A manager offers a service to you that entails zoning in on your strengths and weaknesses. They can direct you to the type of acting classes you need, according to your current skill level. They can help you rehearse, support you in your goal setting and point you in the right direction, especially when you are so overwhelmed you arenít sure where to start.
An agent finds and books you auditions. They hunt down casting calls, make bookings, negotiate the contracts, and basically do the leg work for your career. They normally charge 10% of what you are paid, and at the end of the day, thatís fair. If you have both a manager and an agent, itís OK for them to know about each other. Having them develop a relationship centered on your career actually strengthens your chances at success.
One neat trick in obtaining a good manager or agent is to send out invitations to one of your productions. In standup comedy or theater, youíd be surprised how well that works. Itís also good to have agents hear about you through referrals. If you are in a production, or have done some good work for a casting director, networking with those contacts might be another great way to go.
An agent-client relationship is mutual. They require something from you, in the form of marketable talent, and you require something from them: marketing your talent. Having an agent speak your language, meaning that you both have the same goals for your career, is prudent. Just try to keep it in perspective: you are the hirer, who enlisted them to fulfill the duties necessary to handle your career, and they work hard, and get paid when you do.
Getting an interview with an agent or talent manager doesnít necessarily mean they will take your career in their capable hands. You have a window of opportunity to convince them that if they find you work, you wonít let them down. Be punctual and polite, keep any "artist attitude" in check, have an 8x10 head shot, and donít forget to have your resume, with the list of credits, if any, in hand ready to be discussed.
Before walking in there, have a mental note of what it is you are looking for in an agent, and in your career. Have realistic expectations. If you have no experience, donít walk in their office feeling disappointed they havenít told you they will make you a star. That is something a dishonest agent would tell you, and you need honesty. Always remember that if you are starting out, expect to be treated as a rookie. It's not disrespect, itís honesty. And hiring someone honest is far better than someone who will leave your portfolio filed under D, for dust collector.
Donít forget to consider if you are ready for union or non-union work. Itís important to be clear on that aspect. Newcomers who try to work into the union too soon often have a difficult time, as they can no longer have the luxury of taking on non-union jobs to build up credits. Union workers get jobs based on credits mostly, and taking the plunge is a great idea after you have become established.
Gaining agent or manager representation is something not to be rushed into. Taking on the first agent who comes along could be as risky as buying the first second-hand car you were offered. While an agent isn't a used car, the hunt is very similar. You want to kick the tires, see how many miles are on it, what its performance is like. Agents are pretty much the same. It PAYS to check them out before you make any deals with them. Here are a few links where you can find an agent and check their credentials.
Donít be afraid to compromise with an agent. They are in the business to help you, as helping you at the end of the day helps them. If they suggest you get a better headshot or take some acting classes that's fine, as long as they arenít dictating which photographer/school you must attend. If they try to specify, be careful. They could be scamming you. A good agent could suggest a few reputable schools, or YOU could suggest to them that the Kamitic Acting System is one they should be suggesting.
Take their advice seriously. If they want you to take a job you feel is beneath you, and your wonderful talent, try to see it from their point of view. If you are new, they have actors more qualified than you, and thereís a reason they are more qualified. Keep doing the work offered, and soon you will be one the more qualified actors with plenty of credits to your name.
Before, during and after obtaining an agent, do one thing: work. Take all the work you can get! It doesnít matter if itís a student film, theater, commercials, videos, non-union (if you are not union yourself), or anything else. Attend acting classes, hone your special skills, like dancing, singing and projecting, and grow your image by nurturing your resume.
Donít constantly bother your agent! Donít call them several times a day to check in to see if anything new has popped up. They arenít going to have time to find you work if you keep them busy telling you that they are trying to get you off the phone to find you work.
Next, be sure to have a set time when you can meet with your agent by phone or in person. Keep them updated with the NEW things you have been adding to your resume, as you work and take classes. They will be impressed by how hard you work, and how dedicated you are, and will be excited enough to keep up the good work on your behalf.
Lastly, a reminder that in this business, not everything or everyone is as they seem. There are scammers not only online, but in offices and on movie sets. Always remember to be alert. If you are in an office that has its walls filled with photos of famous people, and it is in a run-down building that ought to be condemned, chances are itís too good to be true, and itís time to keep looking. If they ask you for upfront fees, thank them so much for their kindness, leave, and throw their business card in the nearest trash can. If they guarantee they can make you a star, toss that card, too.
And lastly, and I cannot say this enough, always check them out. Look on the links provided above, do runs on their names, go on actors' blogs and ask if anyone has worked with them. Check out their credentials. You do not want to sign a contract with them, to make you sit on your hands for 2 years or more, when they donít intend to move your career.
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