Friday, July 6, 2012

No longer a "free agent"?

I think it's time for me jump in and get an agent again.

So, I am contacting one today. She is someone I have wanted to meet for quite some time.

More on this as it plays out....

It's been since I lived in NYC a few years ago that I've had a theatrical or commercial agent.  I've been working mostly through casting directors and production companies. For some reason I have always seemed to have pretty good luck with casting directors, producers and directors, so an agent hasn't been necessary.

What's the difference?

Casting Directors are hired by the production company to audition and hire the best actors for the specific roles.

Many feel that casting a project is an artistic skill, to which I agree!

Putting together a "cast", the casting director has to consider not just "how good" the actors are. They also they have to fit certain descriptions, AND be right for the role, and be reliable enough to hire. Someone who will show up every day and play the part at the same level. Some are one or two of these but not all three!

Also, sometimes the production insists on a "name" actor to attract investors to the film or show. This rules out a lot of people, ....(the "underdogs" like me).

In many cases casting directors are just "gate keepers" to the director. They let all of the good ones through and the director often has the final say.

Agents are called by a casting director or production company and asked to send, for example, "a dozen males, 6 ft tall, over the age of 30", to play the role of "police officer #3", in a television movie.

A casting director doesn't have time to find and contact a dozen actors. That's why the agent is so important. The casting company will contact the agent who will send to them the actors who they think could play the part, qualify physically, and are available.

It's a good system and has worked well for decades.

How does an actor or model get an agent?

This is not a "how to" article but I'm happy to share what I know....

If you're a "non union" actor or a model you may need to do an internet search in your area for an agent for acting or modeling. However, be careful. You want to find a legitimate one. Go to the site to check for complaints on any before signing, ESPECIALLY if you're asked to pay a fee. I'm not going to say you should NEVER pay a fee for an acting or modeling agent when you're just starting out. If you do, it should be for classes and photos, or something specific, not just a "fee" to register.  Just make sure to ask around, go online, ask others who have worked with them, check them out first. The entertainment industry is RIPE with scams. In 15 years in the business I have never fallen for any. Was close once or twice, but  took the time to check them out first, sparing my wallet and my time.

For information on various agents, if you're a union talent (or eligible), anywhere in the country you can contact SAG/AFTRA.  They will give you a list of union affiliated agencies. SAG/AFTRA has branches in cities all over the U.S. Also, I think Actors Equity provides the same service, (but not sure). In both cases, you may not even need to be a member, but it depends on the branch/city you're talking to.  It never hurts to ask!

Another great source for actors for related publications is Samuel French. You can buy books with lists and information on just about everything to do with the business of acting for as little as $10 online. They have been around since 1830!

"Actors tell the story of the human race".....-Shelly Winters

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