I have had a number of people recently ask me about when I thought it was time to change agents. Before I answer that specific question, let me first explain what an agent’s responsibility is, and what you should expect from your agent.
Agents make their living by taking a percentage from their actors and models. Typically, agents receive a 20% commission fee from any modeling job, and the same percentage for all non-union acting jobs. Actors who are members of SAG-AFTRA (the main Union for actors) are currently allowed to pay agents a 10% commission fee for all acting jobs.
Actors and models should only pay agents a percentage from any booked job. We should not be paying “up front” fees to agents. The only exception to this rule is if the agent offers the talent to be on their web site. This will be the only time we pay a fee to an agent that has nothing to do with a booking.
Since agents make their living by taking a percentage from their talent, this means that they want us to work. They want us to work a lot. That is how the agent pays his or her bills and earns an income. So, if you are not getting any phone calls from your agent, that does not mean that they don’t want you to work. There are many different reasons why talent don’t hear from their agent.
Sometimes we don’t hear from our agent because they forget about us. It is easy for a talent to think that because he or she has been with an agent for a number of years, that they are always being thought of by the agent. A new agent could begin working at the agency, and even though you have been represented by the agency for years, the new agent might not have a clue as to who you are.
It is also possible that the photos you currently have simply don’t sell you well. Maybe you need different shots, even if you had them taken fairly recently. It is the actors and models responsibility to have an incredible head shot and a very marketable composite sheet or at least strong commercial photos.
There are also times where agents don’t get calls for jobs in your specific category. This means that you and everyone else in your category will not be hearing anything from your agent. This is not a negative reflection on your agent; it simply means there is not much going on for you right now.
Another reason for not getting phone calls about auditions is because the agent was contacted by a casting director or photographer who said that they did not like the talent’s audition. Hopefully, the agent would say something to the talent and try and fix a possible problem, but that does not always happen.
So, after explaining a number of reasons why you might not be hearing from an agent, let me tell you how to best deal with these types of situations, and what you can do to make sure that you are remembered.
If you have not heard from your agent for a while, I would highly recommend that you contact your agent and schedule a meeting. Don’t just walk into the agency unannounced, and ask your agent to meet with you.
Instead of blaming the agent for not getting you any auditions or jobs, I would suggest that you ask your agent if there is anything he or she could recommend you do to get more work.
See what the agent says. Don’t sound defensive if the agent says your photos are not selling you well, instead, listen and take their suggestions.
Maybe you simply need to stay in touch with the agent more regularly. That could mean sending more emails, post cards or mail the agent short notes every month, just to stay in touch and remind the agent you are around.
If you have done everything your agent asked of you, and 6 months later, you still are not hearing anything from the agent, then you will need to make a decision as to whether it is best to keep trying to work with him or her, or find a new representative.
Like in any relationship, you want to do everything you can to try and make things work. Sometimes it takes an agent a while to start marketing you well. And, if you have found an agent who you like and trust, don’t give up too quickly.
I hope you have found this information helpful, and let me know if you try any of these suggestions, and what types of results you get.