Agents 101: How To Find An Agent
I get asked this a lot and have posted up a blog over at
The Actor’s Connective, by the way, is a great resource for Canadian actors.
Doing your research is the most important thing you can do as an actor and now, thanks to the magical wonderland that is the world wide web, that has never been easier (that made me sound very old). Your first stop should be the ACTRA website. Find the branch website appropriate for your city. ACTRA is the actors union of Canada (our equivalent of SAG) and is a wonderful resource. Crooked agencies get weeded out and are reported to the union.
Your new agency needs to be EIC approved. This means they are legit. They should NOT be asking you for a sign up fee of more than $50, they should NOT be telling you that you have to go with their photographer, and they should NOT force you take “these amazing acting classes with this terrific teacher”. If they do, it could be because they get a kickback. Also, they should not have approached you or your child in a mall.
After you have gone down the list and highlighted the agencies you wish to contact, I would suggest you call them first and ask if they are currently expanding their roster. Some really aren’t. Some are, but are only taking on specifically Union or Non Union members. This will help you narrow your list down to the ones that are currently open to actors with your status. Then, ask them if they take digital submissions (emails) or if they require physical submissions (prints and 8x10s). If they take digital submissions then you can send an email with the cover letter, resume, letters of reference, and your headshots to the appropriate inboxes. If they prefer print, you can mail your material or drop it off.
The cover letter is a chance to show your personality a little bit. Talk about your background and what you offer, and what especially useful experience you have that might not make it on to the resume. That said, keep it short and sweet. No need to gush over the agency or talk yourself up as the next Marlon Brando. Be yourself and keep it short.
The headshots you send should look like you. That might sound obvious, but I’m still constantly surprised by how many actors use headshots that have been airbrushed beyond recognition or were taken 10 years ago. Your shots should be you. You on a good day, but you nontheless. The most important thing is that they capture your personality. Something needs to be going on there so you dont look like just another pretty face. Click around on www.CallbackHeadshots.com for examples of the sort of headshot style I prefer.
While not always mandatory, it is an advantage to have a referral. If you are looking for referrals, you might want to turn to acting teachers you have had or directors you have worked with. Some may contact the agent first and open up the relationship to you.
If you don’t hear back from an agent, you might want to follow up after a few weeks. I don’t think there is any harm in following up. They might not be interested or maybe they haven’t gotten around to looking at the submission. At the very least, if they aren’t interested, you’ll be able to get back your package and try again elsewhere.
Then comes the interview. Remember, this is a partnership. This means that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. You don’t work for them. The agent actually works for you. I think of it as a business partnership, and with a good agent it can feel like even more. You want an agent who gets you and your approach to your craft.
There’s a few things you might want to look into in the interview:
Can you see the agent’s roster? If there are a whole bunch of people that look like you on their roster it might be a problem.
What projects are people on the roster currently working on?
Does the agent have any especially close relationships with casting directors?
What is the agent looking for in an actor? How might s/he go about developing you?
How does the agent see you being cast? Do you share the same vision for your career?
Good luck out there! Finding the right agent for you can be a long process, but when you find the right match it will be worth it.
More great resources at http://www.actorsconnectivetoronto.com
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