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Signing with a reputable acting agency can significantly propel an actors career forward. The job of an agency is to find actors paid acting work; whether that be on television, film, theatre or commercials. There can be a lot of confusion surrounding agencies but one important thing to note is that agencies will never ask you to pay for their services. Be sure to avoid any agency requesting money or going about their business in this way!
Making Miss Mogul have compiled some popular questions regarding acting agencies. Hopefully the answers will make things clearer for you should you seek representation.
How do agencies operate?
Agents and actors tend to have close, professional relationships. This is so that agents can better understand their clients’ strengths, weaknesses and casting types. When casting directors are on the hunt for actors for their next project, agents will send over their clients’ head shots, show reels and other details. If the casting director feels that the client could be suited to the role, they will ask the agent to self-tape or bring them in to audition. From here, clients may be recalled, or they may not hear anything at all. This process should repeat itself until hopefully, the client books their first job.
What happens if an actor books a job?
If successful, the client will be sent details from the company which will determine when the client will begin work and for how long. They will be sent their scripts, location details, hotel bookings etc. For actors, the goal is to book that first job so enjoy the experience; the hard work has already been done!
How are actors paid?
When clients first begin working with an agency, they will sign a contract. Within this contract will be a set of details specific to the agency and the client. When signed, the agency will take a cut of the clients fee (usually about 10-20%). The agency will also handle the finances and pay clients directly.
Are agencies essential?
Not necessarily. It is possible to find work without the presence of an agency; usually via networking and open call auditions. However, it is generally preferred that actors are represented by agents. The process of sending head shots and briefs, collating money and covering travel costs are all made easier when working in a professional, collaborative environment.
Where do I start?
The first step is to attend as many courses and workshops as possible. Some courses charge a fee, but if you can afford them, they are great hubs to meet with casting directors, gain experience, make friends and brush up on your skills. Even if you have obtained a degree from drama school, it is important to attend such classes to continue evolving. Don’t become complacent! JM Casting (interviewed above) offer brilliant courses which provide actors with the chance to perform a mock audition for a well-known casting director. Also, if you are starring in a local theatre production, why not email an agency and ask if they would like to come along to watch.
These are becoming increasingly sought after by agents looking for their next client. However, they can be expensive. Consider contacting a student film maker whom is looking to build their profile, and choose a script which suits your casting type. Don’t pick one too long either, you want to leave them wanting more.
The next step is to get some professional head shots taken. This is a crucial step so don’t miss this one! Head shots need to look natural, and as true to you as possible. With this in mind, opt for neutral make up tones and natural hair. This is worth investing in a professional photographer as they can give you great advice. However, if you want to do them cheaply, find a white wall, buy a ring light and direct the light slightly above your head, grab your phone, set it to portrait mode and ask a friend to take some photos. A fantastic northern head shot photographer is www.tonyblakephoto.co.uk
Once all of these steps have been completed and you are confident in your acting abilities, it’s time to find your agent. There are many reputable agencies in the UK whose emails are easily accessible with a quick google search. It is important to research the agencies to ensure that the agencies you are applying to are suited to your skill set.
Now that you have your show reel, head shots and training, it is time to send those emails. Pick your top two or three agencies to email and start by addressing them by their name (do not copy and paste!).Make sure you include any experience you have gained, why you want to be an actor, training credentials and pertinent links. Some agencies would like you to have experience, and this can be difficult without an agent. So, don’t be disheartened if none of them take you on just yet. In the meantime, work on building a portfolio through partaking in short films, student films, or if this isn’t possible, why not write your own material to perform?
Get to work ladies!