What to Expect When Working With an Acting Agency
Perhaps the silver screen icon, Bette Davis, said it best. “To fulfill a dream, to be allowed to sweat over lonely labour to be given a chance to create is the meat and potatoes of life. The money is the gravy.”
If you’ve been in the acting business for any length of time, then you’re no stranger to sweating over your lonely labour. And you know exactly what she means by the “meat and potatoes.” After all, the acting life in Australia is all about the little victories that happen along the way.
Among the most satisfying and exciting steps when it comes to how to become an actor remains securing an agent. But it means just the beginning when it comes to forming a working relationship that’s mutually beneficial to both parties.
What do you need to know about working with an acting agency? Keep reading for a full breakdown of what to expect and what’s expected of you when working with acting agencies.
What Acting Agencies Do
Before delving into the details of working with an acting agent, you need to have a thorough understanding of what they do. An acting agent submits you to a casting director or producer so that you land auditions and jobs.
For these services, agents typically charge approximately twenty percent of each paycheck that you earn as the result of an audition.
If you’re working with a “franchised agent,” that means your agent is licensed in the locale where they operate. As a “franchised agent,” they may also be approved by at least one of the major performance unions, such as the Media, Entertainment, and Arts Alliance (MEAA), the Equity Foundation, and the Actors’ Equity of Australia (AEA). Remember that union workers may only work with union-franchised agents.
That said, even if you’re not a union member, you may be represented by a franchised agent. They can also help you with work that will lead to union membership, in some cases.
What else do you need to know about how to get into acting through an agent? Understand that there are many different types of agents in the world of show business. These agents each cater to different areas within the entertainment industry.
For this reason, you must research agents with care so that you find a good fit for your needs and area of expertise.
Different Routes to Representation
As an actor, there are different ways that you can be represented. You can either sign with one agent. Or you can freelance.
In some cases, actors may have multiple agents. Particularly if they’d like to get work in film, theatre, and/or commercials.
Where can you go if you’re seeking information and assistance concerning an actor’s relationship with their agent? Each of the entertainment unions above represents an excellent source of information about signing with an agent. They can also help you with the ins and outs of forging a robust relationship.
What’s one of the biggest misnomers that aspiring actors face after signing with an agent? Many expect to experience an immediate flurry of activity. But this rarely proves the case.
Instead, you must manage your expectations and remain patient. Agents should devote time and effort to getting exposure for new clients. This process involves finding the right fit from a casting perspective. It also requires identifying parts that suit clients’ types and ages.
In other words, don’t expect a deluge of auditions in the first handful of weeks after you’ve signed with an agent. Of course, if you’ve been pounding the pavement to find work, this might prove frustrating.
That said, you can expect to start receiving auditions after the first month. What should you keep in mind once you start seeing opportunities for potential work? Let’s take a closer look.
Finding Well-Suited Auditions
When you do start getting auditions, pay attention to how well they suit you. Auditions should be relevant and closely fitted to your age, type, and strengths.
What happens if you start getting sent out on audition after an audition for characters 15 years older than you are? Or a poor fit in another way? This could indicate a disconnect between how your agent perceives you and how you see yourself.
What to do? Although you may feel frustrated by this situation, remember that this can be a common problem. After all, agents struggle to find the right audition “fits” for new clients.
That said, the problem is easily remedied. Keep the lines of communication open with your agent, and professionally and courteously express your concerns.
What gives if your agent keeps throwing irrelevant and ill-fitting auditions your way? Whether it’s casting calls for characters outside of your age range or auditions requiring nudity when you’ve clearly said “no,” this could be a red flag.
It may indicate that your agent doesn’t pay enough attention to your specific needs and concerns. Again, communication remains key, so don’t be afraid of a friendly check-in.
The Process of Getting Auditions
What’s the bottom line when it comes to the process of receiving auditions? Your agent will give you a call to discuss the details of each audition.
When your agent proves especially busy, this call may come from their assistant. Either way, they should be able to answer your questions.
That also means you need to have a list of questions ready to fire off when you receive these communications.
After all, it’s to everyone’s advantage that you have all of the information you need before answering a casting call. That way, you’ll perform better during the audition.
In some cases, you may also work with an agent who prefers to communicate via email. Email also represents an effective means of communication. Just make sure you read through the email and any attachments carefully.
And whatever you do, don’t forget to confirm receipt of each email. This step is vitally important.
What to Know About Feedback
Next, we need to talk about what many agents consider the F-word: feedback. Generally, actors expect feedback after every audition, and we understand why. Acting is not only your career but your passion, and you put your heart into your work.
Nevertheless, you must bear in mind that agents have many clients and are constantly networking and finding new work for them. Don’t be surprised if an agent cannot provide you with feedback after every audition.
There aren’t enough hours in the day for them to reach out to every client every time they’re involved in a casting call. Don’t incessantly bug your agent for suggestions and comments, either.
Instead, assume your reps know when it is and isn’t appropriate to check in with casting.
You should also remain prepared for your first booking call. When your agent calls you, be ready to discuss the deal points. You should write them down and ask questions before agreeing to any terms.
Remember that once the deal is closed, it proves especially difficult to make changes. So, don’t squander calls where you discuss bookings with your agent.
More Tips for Managing Your Agent Relationship
What else do you need to know about managing a relationship with your acting agent? The following best practices will help you get the most out of this vital professional collaboration.
Consider setting a mutually convenient time to touch bases with your agent or their assistant. That means deciding on a frequency that works for you both and then scheduling these sessions in advance.
That said, don’t pressure your agent for constant phone communications. Remember that the more time your agent has to spend with you takes away from the time they have available to get you work.
Instead, you need to cultivate that fine balance between communicating regularly and allowing your agent to work their magic in pursuit of new work for you. You should also bear in mind that it’s totally fine not to hear from your agent for a few weeks.
Make Your Goals Clear
To have the most successful relationship possible, you must also establish what you need from your agent from the get-go.
Are you looking for help with career development, support, better roles, or something else? Your agent will only be able to provide you with this help if you clearly communicate what success looks like to you.
Besides describing career goals and objectives, you should also let them know about your availability and which holidays you are and aren’t willing to work. If you fall ill, you need to tell them this, too.
Let them know which days just won’t work and what your other commitments look like. When it comes to how to be a top actor, you must be on the same page with your acting agent at all times.
After all, there’s nothing worse than having to back out of a meeting with a casting director because your agent didn’t know the ins and outs of your schedule. Incidents such as these reflect poorly on both you and your agent.
You must also have a thorough understanding of what your agent can do for you. In other words, if you’re working for an agent to get screen work, don’t expect them to land you a job doing Shakespeare on stage.
Likewise, agents that work with clients for screen and stage work dedicate more time to their clients. So, if you’re moving from a casting agent for advertisements to the next level, you need to understand this.
Navigating Special Needs and Sensitivities
You should also let your acting agent know if you have particular needs. These may include things such as dyslexia and autism or neurodiversity.
If you have special considerations, make sure you find out whether your agent has dealt with similar clients in the past. The best agent is someone who has previous experience providing the appropriate accommodations for other actors.
You may also wish to ask about casting sensitivities related to religion, ethnicity, and LGBTQ+, if applicable. For your own peace of mind, find an agent you can speak openly with and understand your concerns.
You should be able to speak freely with your agent at all times, whether you’re discussing a reading disability or why you prefer not to do nude scenes. Your agent should be your greatest advocate, so make sure you find an individual who puts your needs first.
What Do I Need to Become an Actor?
Do you long to find out how to become an actor? If so, a fantastic place to start is with finding a good agent. Your agent needs to be someone that you feel comfortable sharing your concerns and special needs with.
They should also be willing and happy to check in with you regularly, providing updates on the steps they’re taking to help you achieve your goals. An excellent agent should take your concerns seriously and book auditions for relevant, suitable jobs.
Are you looking for acting agencies Melbourne? Acting agencies Sydney or perhaps Brisbane? No matter where you hail from, we’ve got you covered.
Learn more about Hunter Talent and how we can help you achieve your dreams.
How to Become an Actor
Are you ready to take your career to the next level? Is this the year you want to move past daydreaming about acting and seize the day? If so, we can help.
As a sister agency to the famed child talent agency Bubblegum Casting, we represent actors, models, and other creatives aged 18 years and older. Fill out a talent application today to get in contact with one of our agents.