By Aaron Marcus
I know some actors and models who are able to get work on their own without an agent. There definitely are ways for actors and models to market themselves to find work. I have done that as well. However, my experience has been that for most of my bigger film and TV projects, the casting directors only want actors who are submitted by agents.
It is very important that you understand what an agent can and can’t do for you. Keep reading to learn.
1. Make sure the job is legitimate
An agent will have a lot more experience than someone just getting started in the industry to determine if a job is legitimate. The agent also has many more connections and can easily check with other industry professionals to make sure an audition or job is real or a scam.
I have personally experienced scams. These people were very good. I knew they were dishonest from the beginning but went through the entire process to see how they operated. I could see how an actor or model who is not very experienced could easily be swindled. A good agent will prevent you from a potential bad situation.
2. Submit actors and models for projects
One of the main aspects of an agent’s job is to submit their actors and models for projects. They will send headshots and resumes for auditions. Or, send comp cards/commercial photos for go-sees (the model’s audition.)
Some agents use companies such as Breakdown Services to submit their actors for film, TV or commercial projects. Others might use Casting Networks, 800Casting or other similar
companies. This allows agents to easily view the details of many projects, see the description of the characters and submit the right talent for the perfect role.
3. If granted an audition or booked - send the needed information to the actor/model
If an actor is fortunate enough to be granted an audition, then it is the agent’s job to send all of the details of the project (or at least the link for the details.)
This will include information about the project, description of the character, the deadline for submitting, shoot dates, location of the shoot, fees the actor will receive and most importantly, the sides. The sides are the short portion of the script that the actor uses for the audition.
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4. Negotiate for the talent to make sure he/she is receiving the proper amount of money
If this is a modeling job, then every project is negotiated differently. There is no Union for models. So, a model receiving “scale,” (the term for the basic negotiated fee that SAG/AFTRA and producers must abide by) does not exist.
Models get paid very different hourly, half or full-day booking fees. The amount they earn is based on the city where the ad is being shot, their experience, where the ad is being used, howlong the ad will run and a few other factors.
If the add is running in a magazine or newspaper, then the model gets paid much less than if their image is on a billboard, poster or the package of a product.
Models are paid more when their image is in a “high exposure format.” This is because the model is connected to the product in a bigger way. They could lose work when their ad is running in a high exposure format because competitors will not want to hire the model. So, the
model is compensated for potential loss of work by getting more money. An agent will clearly know what is the proper fee for the model working in a high exposure format.
Even for Union or Non-Union acting jobs, the agent knows what is the proper amount to ask for the actor’s work. Things like travel, hotel accommodations, or other fees are all negotiable.
Negotiating without an agent can be very difficult. Even after paying the agent’s fee, the actorwill most likely earn more money than if booking the job and negotiating on her or his own.
5. Help make sure the talent is paid
If you book a job on your own and are not paid, you don’t have much leverage. If it is worth your time, you could go to small claims court to try and get the money owed to you.
However, an agent has more power. They could stop all of their talent from ever working with that person who owes the agent money. If the client is not able to work with the actor or model they want, the client could find another industry professional in order to work with the desired talent.
Photographers or people who own ad agencies would never want to lose that type of business and have a horrible reputation. That is why it is rare that agents are not paid.
6. What agents can't do is get an actor or model a job. That is up to the talent
Sometimes, actors and models blame their agent when they aren’t booking jobs. We have to always remember that the agent can’t get us work. That it completely up to us. We are the ones who audition and attend go-sees.
All we can do is ask our agent to submit us for an audition and be seen by the industry professionals. But the agent has nothing to do with who gets booked.
If you are not getting the auditions you want or expect, make sure you watch the video to get some suggestions on how to talk with your agent when work is slow.
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