Be A Working Actor: Step 2

December 27, 2010

Step 2: Easy Steps To Not Pissing Off Your Agent

You have your headshots. You mailed out your resume and cover letter to some agents. And you heard back! You are now represented!

So, now that you have an agent, here are some ways to not piss them off, and a little insight into the process they go through to get you work.

Not pissing your agent off can be summed up pretty easily: be on time, be prepared, stay in touch, and answer your calls/emails/texts.

Being on time seems like a no-brainer. I feel lucky to have worked for a lot of places that really drove this home: “If you’re 15 minutes early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.” And I like to add for fun “If you’re late, you’re fired.” If your audition is at 1:00, that is when you should be slating and starting your session. If you show up at the door at 1:00 you still need to get buzzed in, fill out an info sheet, get a headshot out of your bag, and get any info from the casting associate. All of that takes a little time. Why not show up 15 minutes early and prepare yourself. Prepare?

Be prepared. Worst-case scenario you will find out about an audition day-of and have to get to the audition with little time to memorize lines. Use that time to learn your lines. If your agent tells you Thursday you have an audition Friday, you have no excuse to not have lines memorized. If you prepare, you get better and get jobs…or at minimum get called in for more jobs. If you get jobs, your agent gets paid…which gets you sent to more jobs.

Staying in touch can mean lots of things. If your agent doesn’t know who you are then they’re not going to know to put you on auditions. A big part of this is keeping your agent informed of your book outs…the days and times you can NOT audition or shoot. As soon as you know you’re not available for a day, let them know immediately. If you find out the next day that you have another day you can’t do, let them know immediately. Even if you know you’re busy 10:00am-2:00pm, it is better for them to know that ahead of time. If your agent knows you can’t be there on a date that ends up being the shoot date for a project, they won’t put you on it. If they think you’ll be perfect, they will probably double check with you and try to work something out.

Lastly, respond. Agents work in a very tight window of time. If you don’t respond to their call, email, or text it will be assumed you’re not available…with some minor stress. If you’re not available, call back right away…but you should have booked out in the first place…right?

Here is a little info on “the process” to let you know why ignoring these things makes you look bad and could piss off your agent:

-commercial or some other project requiring actors hires casting agents to run auditions. Casting agents have scripts and character breakdowns.
-casting agents send info to talent agents along with some actors they already know they’d like to see.
-talent agents send the casting agents a list of all of the actors they represent who a) fit the character description and b) are available according to their book out sheet.
-casting agents look through all the submissions from the talent agents, pick actors, and fill out the casting session schedule based on their choices complete with time slots and sends that info to talent agents.
-talent agents contact talent for confirmations.

In a perfect world all of the actors have followed all the information here and everyone confirms. Life is easy for everyone. Realize that you’ve already gone through an elimination process when you even get called in for an audition. But, it doesn’t really ever go like this.

What really happens is the cycle continues with:

-some actors are sick, or out of town and forgot to book out, or don’t answer the phone/email/text about the audition.
-those actors who aren’t confirmed create holes in the schedule.
-casting agents go back to the lists of actors the talent agents sent and find people to fill the holes.
-talent agent lets THOSE people know.
-cycle continues until everyone is confirmed

This is all before the audition even happens. Stay in touch and answer your phone/emails/texts play a major part in the pre-audition process. Especially letting your agent know when you’re booked out for partial days (10am-2pm). When they submit you in the first place they can make note of that when they’re building the initial session schedule. If your time slot doesn’t work for you all you can do is hope that someone else’s slot opens up.

So, you get the audition. You’ve confirmed with your agent. They email you the script. Your audition is tomorrow at noon. All you have to do is work the lines, a lot…and show up early. But let’s say you didn’t. You glanced at the lines and printed them out knowing you would work on them on the way to the audition. You receive an important call from someone…a long call. You don’t get off the phone with them, but finish getting ready, hop in a cab, and make it to outside the audition at 12:10. You were on the phone, so you didn’t work your lines. You’re late, so you don’t have time to work them before going in. Even at 10 minutes late there is a chance the auditioners put a call in to your agent to find out where you were…a call you don’t want your agent to get. And after all that, the read you give on-camera is your very first read of the lines for you. And unless you’re brilliant, that means it sucked. Which means you wasted everyone’s time for two days…from scheduling until now. AND you probably delayed the entire schedule 15 minutes.

Be on time.

Be prepared.

If you’re running even slightly behind the protocol is to call your agent immediately and they will contact the audition.

Oh, one other thing. Don’t lie to cover your butt or make you look good. If you go to an audition and say you never got a script from your agent either you’re lying, or you need a new agent. If it is the day before an audition and you don’t have your lines yet, contact your agent. If you were an extra in a movie filmed in Chicago and you try to say you had a part bigger than that, you will get caught. You’re auditioning for people who probably cast the movie, and if they didn’t, they definitely know who did. Honesty, yet again, is always the best policy.

Will there be a Step 3? Who knows? What do you want to know about? If I know, I’ll try to elaborate, if I don’t know I won’t make up stuff.