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  • Writer's pictureClare Lopez

HOW TO GET AN AGENT

How do you know when you are ready to start searching for a rep? And where do you even start? If you are just starting out in your acting journey, this can feel incredibly overwhelming. But the good news is, you don't need an agent when you are just starting out. There are so many other things to work on in the beginning, there is absolutely no need to start worrying about agency submissions right away.


AGENT: is a person who legally represents you as an actor. They can submit your work, on your behalf to Casting Directors in order to help you get requested to audition. They navigate all contracts, and are a layer of protection between you and the production to help negotiate rates, terms, dates, and anything else demanded of you as an actor. For their work, Agents earn a commission off projects that you've booked through them. (This usually ranges from 10% - 20% of the rate depending on the project).


At the end of the day, all of this means that Agents work for free until you book a gig. They only make money when you do- otherwise, the are essentially working for free. The only reason an agent will sign an actor is if they can trust that you WILL book work. The only way they can be assured that this will happen, is for them to see that you've got a proven track record for booking.

Agents need to see that you have the skills, materials, credits, and self-tape technique ready to be submitted among the best actors in your region.


Here's a list of actionable steps to take before submitting to an agent that will also support your work as a self-submitting actor.


1. GET EXTENSIVE TRAINING


If you are pursuing work as a professional actor, and aiming to eventually work with an agent, you must learn how to master the craft. You must dedicate time to build your actor process and be able to create consistent, connected, believable work. The way to do that is training. The craft takes years to be proficient and a lifetime to master. Ideally, actors should have experience with: Scene Study, On-Camera Acting, Audition Technique, Improv, and ideally be training consistently for a few years. Some actors might do more or might do less- but again - this is less about hitting a specific amount of training and more about building a solid mastery of the craft.


2. BUILD YOUR RESUME: AUDITION FOR EVERYTHING


Your resume demonstrates that you have on-set experience and are ready to rise to the challenge once you land gigs. It's essential to start building that resume with: Student Films, Shorts, Independent Films, Theatre, Web Series, Theme Park gigs --basically anything that can get you applying your training to a real world performance experience. Remember, agents only make money when you book. So if you’ve never booked before, there is no reason to believe you will get booked once you sign with an agent. Your resume will be one of the main tools you use when you self-submit to projects on Actors Access or Casting Networks. And the easiest way to build these kinds of credits is to audition for everything. Don't be choosy, just dive into any chance you can to perform. You will keep taking classes of course, but working in the field can also be one of the best ways to continue to hone your craft.


3. GET PROFESSIONAL HEADSHOTS


One of the primary tools you have to have is your headshot. It's your logo, and most importantly it is how your agent submits you for work. If you don't have a headshot, you literally can’t even get into the audition room. Your headshot has to be high quality, shot by a professional headshot photographer, has to be current, and has to represent you right now. It also has to follow the current industry standards and show us how to cast you next. If you are submitting for theatrical representation, you are going to need several headshots to show us your most castable types in a range of theatrical genres.


4. BUILD YOUR CASTING PROFILES


The main way agents will submit you for work is through your casting profiles. So while you are agent free, it's a great time to get familiar with how these casting sites work. Create profiles on Actors Access, Casting Networks (and optionally: Backstage). Be sure you’ve uploaded your current headshots, filled out your resume, special skills, measurements, and contact info on these platforms. Just having these profiles filled out will make a world of difference in your self-submission game - so regardless of your representation status - completing these profiles is a MUST.

 

PAUSE HERE

If you’ve been following along, you’ve got

  • Great training

  • A competitive resume of credits

  • Killer headshots

  • Casting profiles you can use to submit for auditions

So that means you are prime to be self-submitting! Focus on continuing steps 1-4. Honestly, this work really never stops. Keep training. Keep Auditioning. Keep booking gigs. Update your profiles with each class and booking. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.

 

5: GET IN THE FIELD ON THE NEXT LEVEL


Eventually move into a position to start booking higher tier projects. Actors at this stage can start landing paid gigs, indie features, and SAG-AFTRA projects. This is the kind of tier of projects that you need to show an agent you can book. Continue to get yourself working and building a career to be proud of, and start targeting projects that will get you IMDb credits and footage. Get out in the field, and really crush the audition scene in your region.


This will also help you become a pro at self-submitting and self-taping. The majority of your theatrical auditions will require self-taped work; and your future agent will want to submit you with the confidence that your self-tapes are phenomenally prepared, follow industry standards, and be submitted within a short turnaround time.


6. GET FOOTAGE & UPLOAD TO YOUR SITES


Your best bet at having a competitive agency submission: is having a strong Demo Reel.

It will be a solid 90 second to 2 minute compilation of theatrical footage that's been professionally edited, and shows you at your best acting at top tier credits. When it comes to getting a top tier agent, it's a requirement. The most competitive agencies won't even look at an actor submission without a Reel of footage from projects they booked and filmed.


That said, it is totally possible to get signed with an agent without a Demo Reel, but as an actor you will still need video footage that shows you can act. Early in our careers there are lots of reasons we might not have completed footage yet - but that doesn't mean we can't start working with an agent. Self-Taped Actor Clips of short scene work are tools for your actor profiles. These scenes should be taped in a professional and industry standard set up and should show your best acting.


Make sure all footage is uploaded, and correctly labeled to your casting profiles and see how those clips continue to help you land auditions in your self-submissions.


7. PUT YOUR PACKAGE TOGETHER


If you’ve followed along so far, you should have nearly everything you need for a really killer package. But it needs some finessing before you submit to an agent. You might have a completed resume, but is it following industry standards? You might have an Actor's Access account, but is it filled out properly? Are all of your Acting Clips and Demo Reel labeled correctly? Have you created vanity links for IMDb and Actors Access? Do you have an Actor Website? How is your Cover Letter? Do you know who you want to submit to? Each agency will represent actors in different departments (Print / Commercial / Theatrical / VoiceOver, etc...). You also want to take the time to assess that each element of your actor package reflects the types that you play and show us how to cast you next.


How you submit is just as important as what you submit. You need to take the time to get a package together and curate it. It is crucial that you follow each agency's specific directions. In an ideal world, you'd also want a referral from a trusted coach, fellow working actor, or director. (For more details about Agent Targeting, we highly recommend Bonnie Gillespie's video here) There's an entire process when it comes to researching and submitting to an agent, and what questions to ask when you land a meeting. But I will circle back to that in another post.


FINAL THOUGHTS


Regardless of when you start submitting to agencies, these steps are crucial for maintaining a professional career as a full-time working actor. You will have to continue training, self-submitting, and updating your materials, even after you land an agent. Getting an agent is only one small part of that path. When you are ready, I want your submission to stand out. I want your work to show that you are a kick a** actor (you are trained), who’s built a strong body of work (you've got a resume of meaty roles), who's a total pro at auditioning (fantastic self-tape game), and who understands exactly who they are and how they fit (a rock solid actor package of materials). When it’s the right time, I want you to snag an agent that’s going to be the best fit for you as a storyteller.





 

I hope that you feel confident about navigating your actor package prep but if you'd like some extra help sorting out your materials, feel free to get an agency prep consult with me at the studio here.

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