When a person first starts out in acting, they need an agent. Sometimes, they submit to hundreds of agents. And when they finally get one, they expect rainbows and butterflies and smooth sailing. This is certainly NOT THE CASE. As an actor starting off, you need to find an agent willing to take green talent and help develop you. The talent often gets an agent and finds themselves thinking “Why did I not go out for that?”
The name of the game is booking. Agents look at callbacks, which means you’re on the right path, and they look at BOOKINGS. If you aren’t booking anything your agent will put you on the back burner. They need to make money and they invest their time and energy into their clients that are bringing in money by booking jobs they submit you for. As an actor you need to present yourself professionally to your agent, casting directors, and most certainly on set.
So when you have your first agent, which 9 out of 10 times is a commercial agent, you need to do well by them.
Provide what they need on the various websites used by them, which they will give you a list of. Here in LA it is most commonly LA Casting, Casting Frontier, and Actors Access. You make sure that you have a few images for them to use for submitting you. You make sure that the resume and skills you can do are accurate and professional with no typos and misspellings. And you do this right away.
When they send you auditions you go prepared. Don’t go in sweats and flip flops and, unless it is for a business attire audition, don’t go overdressed. READ THE DATA IN THE BREAKDOWNS. Never ever be late to an audition. If you are running late because of some crazy situation you call your agent and let them know to alert casting.
After each audition send a brief email to the agent. “Thanks for getting me the audition for _______. I was there on time and all went smoothly. I will be ready for a callback.” Don’t send a blow by blow of everything. Just let them know you went you were there on time. Do it by email and not by phone.
If you have gone out on several auditions and have not gotten a callback and you do not have a manager, you can send them another email. “I want to improve my callback ratio and bookings on these commercial auditions that you are getting me. I was thinking I would take a class to sharpen my skills. Is there anyone you personally recommend?”
There are a million variables to why a person may not book something, so I will not touch that here. That is something tailored to each performer and is the reason why a person gets a manager. A good one! But that is another train of thought. Not booking and not getting callbacks means that your agent puts you on the back burner. Here is how you handle that situation if you find yourself with an agent and not getting out anymore.
LOOK AT WHAT TOOLS THEY HAVE
If you are not getting out there, the first thing you look at is what your agent may need. If you have not gone on an audition in a few months you send them an email. Do not shift blame to them by saying things like “Why are you not sending me out?” Or “What’s happening?” You send them an email something short and simple and along the lines of “I want to make sure you have everything you need. It appears my headshots are not pulling in auditions like they have been. I am getting new ones done this week and will send you my top selections. Is there a certain look you think I should be focusing on?” And then follow through. New headshots is the example I have here because the vast majority of the time that is what needs to change. It is also a great way to get back into focus with an agent you have been out of communication with.
DETERMINE YOUR WEAK POINTS AND STRENGTHEN THEM
This is where a manager is great. It is very hard to assess oneself. A great manager helps with this part of it. But great managers are really hard to find.
These are common things when auditioning. Be objective while looking, but do not beat yourself up either. Here is a basic list to look at:
– Fidgeting during audition
– Not coming camera ready (meaning that you end up looking like crap on video recordings shown to clients). Men should wear cherry chapstick. Women should have light natural make-up. Hair should be clean and camera ready etc.
– Looking around too much with eyes. Deliver performance to someone or to the camera!
– Talking too softly
– Not talking clearly
– Dry read, meaning flat, not much to it
– Outdated look
– Overly chatty
– Not warm enough, presenting yourself nervously
– Too animated where you don’t come off as natural
Acting classes and experience help you with all of the above. You can succeed in this business. It takes work, good communication skills and drive. If you have worked on all of these little things and your agent still isn’t getting you out, shop for a new one.
Now go break a leg!