Representation: The nitty-gritty (Part Two)

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Can you have a career as an actor without representation? Guy says yes! Photo: Courtesy Guy Camilleri.

By Guy Camilleri

Last year in Yo! Venice (August 9, 2017), I addressed the nitty-gritty on whether or not actors need representation in the form of an agent or manager.

That is still a crucial issue for actors at all stages of their career, and a burning question is whether or not you can even have a career without representation (an agent or manager).

Okay, so can you have a career as an actor without representation? The answer is a resounding, YES!

With the myriad of platforms today, you can create content, generate income and have a blast without an agent or manager. In fact, there are many doing this very thing, right now all over the country and internationally. And, on top of that, they are fielding offers from agents and managers wanting to sign them!

Though I will add, that not every actor wants to set up another platform to have their voice be heard, that’s why they chose acting (as a platform) in the first place. This type of actor is ready and willing to do the work from offers coming in from an agent or manager. They may not be passionate about building (and running) their own business as a performer but they are ecstatic to build memorable characters!

In my opinion, both approaches work, and there is definitely no need to fret (or obsess) over it. Instead, I encourage you to take the necessary steps to manifest your dream as an actor, writer or director. Let’s define what an agent and manager are and what they do.

What is a Talent Agent?

A talent agent is someone who represents professional actors, writers, performers, musicians, artists, and athletes. Talent agents work on behalf of their clients to promote and serve their interests and will typically handle the majority of all interactions between their client and the employer.

What does an Agent do?

Agents sift online through the “breakdowns” (a daily listing of all the acting roles the studios/casting directors are seeking) and submit their roster of clients to them. An agent’s primary goal is to get you an audition. And, agents hope you will book said audition so they can get paid, as that is how an agent generates income. Agents typically get 10percent when an actor books work, including residuals. Also, an agent negotiates contracts regarding pay and work conditions, perks, travel, etc.

What is a Talent Manager?

A talent manager’s primary focus is to manage their client’s career, which may include submitting for auditions. A talent manager will keep in close touch with talent agents to ensure a shared vision for the actor, but a manager stays mostly on the management end of the actor’s career. A talent manager will not guarantee auditions for an actor.

What does a Manager do?

A talent manager helps an actor to make a career plan and keeps the actor on a path toward success. If they have access to the breakdowns they will submit directly and/or work in conjunction with an actor’s agent. A talent manager can assist an actor in preparation for meetings with potential talent agents, directors and producers. They are also involved in advising acting classes, coaching, headshot photographers, resumes and assist with any and all decisions related to an actor’s career.

Timing

When is the right time to sign with an agent or manager? To me, the right time is when you are ready to enter into a business relationship with an expert in their field to procure work on your behalf. Included in this timing, is the need to be transparent that you will be available for auditions that come your way as a result of the hard work agents and managers do to get you in the door.

This in of itself is not an easy task and needs to be taken into consideration before blaming your representation if you are not getting as many auditions as you think you should be getting.

Here are a five ways to agent your agent or manager.

1. Specify and honor your agents or manager’s preferred way to stay in touch.

2. Contact your reps when you have something to announce or when you have pertinent information that will be of assistance to them in procuring auditions for you.

3. Agents usually get 10percent; actors get 90percent… enough said. Avoid waiting for your cell phone to ring. Instead, stay sharp by practicing your craft and creating content and living life to it’s fullest.

4. Update your profile via Actors Access, Casting Networks and IMDB, etc.

5. (This one bears repeating). Trust that your representation has your best interest at heart. Then, literally and psychically give them space to procure auditions (interviews) or pursue opportunities on your behalf.

Guy Camilleri is a Venice-based actor, acting coach, and poet. He teaches regular classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings at the Electric Lodge, in Venice. His private coaching specializes in audition preparation, self-taped auditions, and career consultation. To audit a class and/or book a coaching session, email [email protected] Follow Guy on Instagram @guycamilleri and Facebook.

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