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Getting auditions, negotiating a buyout clause on an advert, getting casting directors to watch your one-man show, and knowing the Equity filming rate for an overseas-shoot. You can do all these things, right? No? Me neither. Luckily that’s where your agent comes in. This article will reveal everything you need to know about how to get an acting agent.
Keep reading to find out how to get an acting agent for beginners or as someone with years of experience. You don’t want to miss this!
An acting agent provides much more than someone who submits your Spotlight profile for acting jobs. The majority of agents already have working relationships with casting companies. This is where they’ll be asked to provide submissions for bigger upcoming roles. If the casting company likes what they see from that submission, you will be invited to self tape or come in for a live audition.
If the Gods are looking on you favourably and you get booked for a job, your agent will then liaise with all the relevant parties to ensure you’re being paid a sufficient amount. Additionally, they will organise everything else from wardrobe fittings, to what time the taxi will pick you up on shoot-day.
Now, before we start dreaming of West-End fame and becoming that man you see on *every* dramatic police series, lets begin with how to get an agent in the first place.
Finding the best way to get an acting agent can be tricky. However, these helpful steps will set you on the right path!
If this article was written 10-15 years ago, the answer would be simple: go to drama school, ace your showcase, and et voilà! You’re signed and performing with Benedict Cumberbatch in that new glitzy drama.
Well, that was then and the industry has completely evolved. Agents are becoming more and more interested in people without any acting experience. However, having said this drama school is without a doubt a viable and valuable option.
Not only are you getting training, but you get a chance at being seen, in this instance at a showcase. Also, depending on the course you enroll on, this will dictate the form that your showcase will take. Generally, it happens at the end of your training and will be a short performance(s) delivered to prospective agents and industry professionals. Who of which will have been invited by your institution, or yourself.
There is no guarantee of a positive response from your invitees. You may receive a flood of offers or none at all. If you go to drama school solely with the purpose of getting representation be aware that it’s a risk.
As we mentioned before, the industry has evolved and the need for drama school trained actors isn’t as fashionable as it once was. Many agencies have training programmes, and a number of schools have their own in-house agents.
It’s a great way for people without any experience to develop their craft and get a chance of representation whilst being significantly cheaper than training at drama school. The Young Actors Theatre based in Islington London offers a range of acting courses for young performers aged 4-24 and has an agency representing over 200 professionals.
The agency Middlewick Newton hosts a weekly screen-acting course where it is possible to gain representation at the end of the training. As with drama school you’re not guaranteed representation and although it is a cheaper option than a degree-based or equivalent training, it can still be quite expensive.
Whether you’re fresh out of drama school or a complete beginner, agents are always looking for new faces. You might be that person that they’re looking for, but without any work to show them, most of your emails requesting representation will fall on deaf ears. Having headshots and even a showreel is now a basic requirement.
That’s why it is so important to try and create your own work or find jobs. With the introduction of casting websites like Centre Stage, it is possible to work without representation or experience. On these websites, you will find castings for short films, fringe theatre and even feature films.
Not only is it a great opportunity to work and get experience, but it means you can bolster your CV and make yourself more attractive to agents. Most websites will give you an introductory month or two free of charge. However, thereafter memberships start from around £100 a year.
Imagine this. You’ve got a CV with a showreel or you’re starring in an amateur production of Romeo and Juliet above a pub and want to showcase this to an agent. How do you get in contact? It’s in the name! ‘Contacts’ is a directory created by Spotlight and has details of every agency in the country.
They have a useful search bar letting you choose from a host of options from when the agency was formed to what type of performer the agency represents. Another useful tool included is the agency’s Book Status’, which means you can filter agencies who are currently looking to represent anyone who is new and emerging. This is great for anyone looking at how to get an acting agent without experience.
More importantly, there is a filter option for agencies whose books are ‘closed’. Social media platforms like Twitter is another great tool not only for beginners looking for representation, but also casting opportunities.
Most agents will want you to send an email including a headshot and a link to your CV. Keep it brief, letting them know that you’re seeking representation.
Make sure that you’re not sending a generic email with every other agency cc’d in; be personable.
If you’re sending an invitation to a show, make it as clear as possible. Include venue, dates, time and even nearest public transport.
A talent agent might already have an actor/actors that they represent who are in the same casting bracket as yourself. They will therefore be unlikely to want to take you on. Take some time to search through their books and see if they have any gaps for your casting.
This is something to think about when contacting some of the more established agencies. In most cases they will be looking for more experienced actors. This isn’t to say don’t try with these agencies as fresh, new faces are always welcomed even if you are an actor with no experience.
Don’t be too harsh with yourself if they turn you down. The more agencies you contact the more likely you are to get representation but remember to be realistic.
A lot of the time agents will be busy with their own clients. It’s not unheard of to not get a reply to your initial email. If you’re lucky enough to get a reply or even an offer then congratulations! If not, wait a few weeks and give them a polite nudge.
Be patient and don’t give up. A word of warning however, an agent will not take kindly if you inundate them with messages.
If you’ve emailed a number of times and keep getting told ‘not this time’ or don’t receive a reply, maybe you’re not what they’re looking for.
If you’re lucky enough to get an offer straight away, fantastic. Although most of the time you will be asked to audition at least once if not more times to gain representation.
Once you find auditions, these will either take place in the form of a one-to-one audition with an agent or a group workshop with other actors.
You will likely be asked to prepare a few pieces including a monologue and dialogue to see your range, finishing with a chat with the prospective agent about your ambitions.
Most agents operate by taking a commission of the money you earn on a job, rather than a flat monthly or yearly fee. This percentage is set by the agency and differs from the type of job (i.e Television, Commercial, Theatre) but generally should be no higher than 20%.
In the chat with the agent you’re signing with they will tell you what they charge. Be careful, there are some rogue agencies out there who will have their commission much higher than their competitors.
It’s your decision who you sign with but personally I’d be very careful if the commission is over 20%.
The best piece of advice is to create, create, create. Having more material to show when emailing an agent or being in some new work is only going to help your case at being represented.
Consider training, and what training method is going to be most helpful for your career. Be realistic in your endeavours, the industry is a tough place and as is in many fields, persistence is key to success.
Keep your eye on social media and other platforms for the newest opportunities. And like with most things in the business having a bit of good fortune is a key. Remember don’t beat yourself up if things aren’t going your way, keep working hard and eventually you’ll get a chance! Good luck with your acting career!
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