From Charlie's Desk > About Agents - Vol. 2

In the last issue we were discussion how to go about getting an agent. As we said, you begin by being prepared . . . that means having some training, a good headshot, and a professional-looking resume. Submit your headshot and resume along with a brief cover letter which states that you are seeking representation and that you will be calling in a week or so to see if you can set an appointment to talk to them in person. Be prepared to have your generous offer declined! A good agency won't accept you if they already have enough clients in your particular category. Sometimes they just aren't taking on any new people right now. Realize too, that they just may feel that you aren't ready yet, and unless you are castable, they won't make any money.

Some important things to remember. . . Agents don't charge fees for anything; they aren't in the business of selling classes or pictures. Their job is to represent actors and they are paid a commission from what you earn. Franchised agencies are only allowed to take a 10% percent commission. (Print work commissions aren't regulated, and usually range from 20 to 25%.) Here in Sacramento it seems that agents take 15 to 20%. Initially I had a bit of a problem with that, but since most of the jobs here are buy-outs for less money and don't involve the commissions on residuals that union jobs bring, I guess it's really okay. A good agency will negotiate their commissions on top of your fee anyway.

If you get rejected, don't give up! Wait a couple of months then submit again. Stay in touch with the agents on a regular basis. Don't be a pest, but let them know when you doing something of interest, get a new headshot, or add something to your resume. One of the best ways to be seen is to do a play. There are many good Theatre groups in the Sacramento area, and it's also great training. Once an agent agrees to talk to you about representation, interview them as you would any prospective business partner. The right agent is one with whom you have good rapport. Your agent must believe in your abilities, and you must trust your agent's judgement. Remember, though, that your agent works for you, not the other way around. (Unfortunately, especially in L.A. where good agents are extremely powerful, all too often the tail seems to wag the dog.) You have the right to accept or reject any offer that they negotiate for you. So choose carefully. Be courteous, friendly and warm, but don't be afraid to take your time to find someone that you feel really comfortable with. Ask to see their license. Ask whom else they represent, and what work their actors have been doing recently. Remember that if they already have ten people just like you, you may end up competing with your own agent's clients! Remember too, that there is no such thing as a "Casting Agent" . Maybe we'll talk about that next time.

Charlie Holliday