It’s the single biggest question I’m asked. And it’s a very relevant question because you NEED an agent to get principal roles on TV shows and movies, a good agent can help someone with little or no experience get a job on set even if they have not been to film school.
Almost ALL the auditions for TV shows and movies are private auditions. They happen between agents and casting directors. The general public will never see these auditions. They are not posted anywhere, publicly. Not Actors Access, not LA Casting.
They are posted at Breakdown Services which is a subscription based company that ONLY provides the scripts (breakdowns) to licensed agents. You must be an agent to see this info.
And if you do get your hands on it illegally, it won’t help you. You’ll still need an agent to submit you. Submitting yourself from an illegal breakdown is frowned upon by casting directors. They’ll wonder how did you get this breakdown? This could really set you back if they take offense to it.
So, you need an agent to get submitted for those auditions for TV shows and movies. No other way to get into those auditions. But even if you do have an agent, there’s still no guarantee they’ll submit you.
I recently had lunch with an actor that just finished a feature film. His theatrical agent didn’t send him out to any shows this last pilot season. Why? They said there were no parts that fit his look. hmmm. really? He’s a funny looking, red hair, red beard, guy’s best friend.
The lesson here: You still have to hustle, even when you have an agent! You have to find your own opportunities.
Lastly, in Los Angeles, there are theatrical agents and commercial agents. If you want to do movies and TV, you need a theatrical agent. If you want to do commercials, you need a commercial agent.
So how do you get started finding an agent???
OK, let’s first look at how to tell between an agency that’s there to represent you and one that’s in business to make money for themselves. The real agents I’ll call real agents and the other ones I’ll call the ‘Get Discovered’ agents. (or management companies).
“Get Discovered” Talent Agents/Management
Signs of a Get Discovered Talent Agent (or Management company)
1. Fake agents (which often call themselves Talent management companies) charge money up front (big clue). They talk about how they discovered these “big stars”. They often have you come in for an interview with a so-called Director. They say you have “the look” and tell you they’d like to develop you and it costs $800, $1200, $2000 for a portfolio so they can market you. Get you started. They say you’ll make the money back on your first gig. Sometimes, they ask for a small amount, like $50 to get you used to giving them money, to get you committed. They may even ask how much money your parents make.
One of our members worked at one of these companies on one of their ‘talent searches’ in Omaha, NB. He saw practically everyone getting a callback, he saw so-called agents asking parents what they did for a living. He noticed that kids with wealthy parents were getting called back and told they had great potential. Even if the kid was terrible.
Poor parents. The child wants it so badly and the parents don’t want to deprive them of the opportunity. The parents don’t know the business either and at that point, they may have never thought there could be such a thing as a scam. So many parents dish out the money for this only to find out later, that it doesn’t really work that way.
2. Fake talent companies make money by referring you to classes or training. They may steer you toward expensive headshots or charge you to put your picture on their website. Bottom line, they are making money on you before you do any paid work. That is the SIGN of a company that is marketing for newbies and makes their money solely from newcomers.
3. Another clue of a non-legit company is if they are a big national company. Real agents are local. Real agencies work in a certain market, like Los Angeles, or Atlanta or Chicago. They have close relationships with Producers, Directors, Casting Directors there and are constantly working on those projects.
4. They are advertising. You see them in an ad or in craigslist or on a “seeking work” website. They make it sound so easy. They say they’re searching for new faces, fresh talent, be in this show, try out for this reality show. Get discovered. If they are advertising for newbies, beware!
Google the name of the company and the word ‘Scam’. See what comes up and make your own decision. Ask on our fanpage! //www.facebook.com/pages/Friends-in-Film/169041429778032
All these things above are clues that these agents or companies make money on NEWBIES. Hopeful newcomers who want IN and don’t know the business yet.
REAL AGENTS. So much more fun to talk about. Whew!
Real agencies don’t advertise. They don’t have a fancy name that sounds anything like ‘get discovered’. They don’t use hypy language like “get discovered” on their website. They are low key. They have a local number and an address listed on their website. Everyone who is in the business knows them.
Often you can’t just get in by sending your headshot and resume. They will ask for a referral.
The best way to attract an agent is to show them that you’re money. I talked about this in the “Fastest Way to Hollywood” short course.
Real agents only make money if you book work. They make 10% of your paycheck. Nothing upfront.
So, obviously, if they only make money when you work, they want to see proof that you’ll make them money if they sign you.
It costs them money to interview you, send your headshots and resume to casting directors, fax your info to casting directors, make phone calls to casting directors to sell you. They are running a business and they are going to spend time on the people who make them money. That’s the actors that they’ve signed who are booking roles.
You may say “Well, just give me a shot! I’ll show you I can book roles!”
There’s nothing more irking to them than to hear that. It’s like, “Well, what have you done? You need to take responsibility for your own career, not look for someone else to do the work for you!”
And once these agents get a bad vibe from you, then you’ve turned them off. Not good.
How to get the agent
So how do you ‘look good’ to agents so they want to represent you?
How do you show them “you’re money”? You need to get roles in films. You need credits, in as many films as you can get, and show that you are continuing to move up in levels in your acting.
It’s fine to start in high school plays, then theatre, then student films. Then you need to start booking commercials, more professional stuff. You should have a reel. Professional actors have reels.
OK, so what do you do . . . to get this started?
Here’s what most actors do:
You can do what everyone else does and that’s audition for freebie student films. Do as many as you can. Build a reel of hopefully good footage (this is the hard part because many films have poor production value.) Keep auditioning for everything you can find that fits your type. Eventually, with luck, you can build some credits over time, keep moving up in the level of your work . . . better and better credits and build a good reel. Now the agent has something that they can SELL.
Because they need to sell you, that’s part of their job. So they need something to sell and you need to make it easy for them.
So perhaps you’re doing the above right now. That’s good that you did those things. You were doing what you should have with the information that you had… Before you came across me and our website, that’s the best thing you could have done.
But now you are being exposed to a new and better way. A Faster way. That attracts an agent because you are using all the advantage of being on the inside to get an agent. I’ll explain.
There is another way. By getting on the inside, you get hooked up by people inside the business.
By working IN the business, working on professional big budget shoots and meeting the producers and directors in the real film industry, you’re in another league.
Producers and directors are the real decision makers for who gets the role.
If they know you and they’ve got a role that fits YOU, then geez, you’re on the inside. Production hooks you up and gets you in the audition. The Producer mentions to the Director, she’s ‘one of us’. If you’re good, they’d love to give it to you!
It’s ALL about relationships. Getting ‘hooked up’. It happens all the time.
Another scenario that happens. On shoot day, things change and a director wants to add a role, they know you act and ask you if you can do it. Now, this is a professional shoot. The lighting is beautiful, you’ve got wardrobe, makeup, real direction from a Director.
Now, THAT footage goes on your reel. That’s beautiful, impressive footage. And you’ve got a professional CREDIT that means something to agents now.
Wow, how did you get that?
SAG? no. (although, now you’d be eligible if it was a union film . . . most are)
Auditioning? no. you didn’t audition for it. It happened because you were there and they needed you.
Now you have professional credits and professional footage. You are years ahead of the traditional way of auditioning and student films.
You jump levels with connections
You’ve jumped up many levels by having the connections and also putting yourself in the right place at the right time.
Now agents are going to be interested. You’re the guy in ______, you were just in _______. See? You’ve helped them sell you.
Do you understand the opportunity here?
Hope so, because it’s gold.
If you’re on shoots every week, how fast can you build an incredible reel and professional credits? Super fast.
I’d love to know what you think of this? Is it clearer now? More questions? Leave a comment below and I’ll answer!
And FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS PAGE! Share the good info and together we can outsmart the SCAMS!!! :-)