In my last blog post I gave you a step-by-step guide to getting the right headshot that’s going to get you noticed in Hollywood and get your career off the ground. This week we focus on finding the right representation that is going to get you out there in front of the right industry professionals so that you can start working.
How to get a Hollywood Agent
There are various kinds of acting agents throughout the world of entertainment and finding the right one is a precarious business. Different agents cater to different areas of the entertainment business and so it is important when seeking representation that you research exactly what area of work an agent primarily operates in. Just as some agents are exclusive to theatre productions, in contrast some agencies deal solely with television acting roles and feature films.
Getting an agent
Whether you want to work in film, television, or theatre, you will eventually need some form of representation, and the basics of getting started are pretty much the same across the board. There is a standard protocol to follow and adhere to when courting potential agents and talent agencies.
You should apply in writing and enclose a résumé and headshot with your covering letter for due consideration. It is always a good idea to call the agency prior to sending them your information just to check you have the correct address. If you obtain the name and address of an agency via word of mouth or from an out-dated publication it is quite possible that the agent may well have relocated. As I mentioned in the last blog, getting copies of your photographs made can be an expensive business and so it is also beneficial to send a stamped addressed envelope along with your résumé and photographs so that the agent can return them to you if your application is unsuccessful.
Your résumé should contain any relevant experience within the entertainment industry, but for many extra agencies, experience is not essential. It should include all your vital statistics such as height and weight; chest size, inside leg measurement, collar, waist, bust, hips, hat and dress sizes, eye and hair colour, ethnicity and nationality. Your CV should also list any special skills you have such as gymnastics or horse riding, as these can be of major importance in getting you noticed and moving your career forwards. If you have photographs performing these skills then you should include it with your application to help you stand out from the crowd and the many other applicants.
Some agencies have an extremely large number of people on their books, the profits of which are generated through high volumes of small amounts of commission. The competition within these agencies is immense and for any one job such agents are able to supply a large number of candidates that possess a similar look or talent for the role up for grabs. An agent that falls within this category can therefore effectively hedge their bets and hopefully one of the actors on their roster will get the part. However, one very obvious disadvantage of working with this type of agent is that due to the large amount of actors they deal with everyday, it is very easy to get lost in the crowd and overlooked. An agent operating under these circumstances just doesn’t have the time to build a personal relationship with each person on their books. On the other hand a distinct advantage of signing with an agent of this type is that as a result of the vast number of actors under one roof, the agency receives a lot of attention and information from casting directors and production companies generating regular casting and work opportunities for its clients. It is also a great place to begin for someone just starting out in the business with little or no experience.
Agents that specialise in sport, featured commercials, corporate videos and pop promos tend to access information and opportunities that mainstream acting agents and casting directors would tend not to concern themselves with or actively seek. This agent genre has been extremely productive and lucrative for me and helped me to achieve many of my lifetime goals and ambitions.
Top international agencies such as ICM or William Morris Endeavor (WME) represent large numbers of high profile clients in the UK and worldwide including the big movie stars, directors, writers and producers. There are also agents that only carry the names of a select few actors, the likes of which could quite possibly be household names. Therefore when starting out in this area of the industry it would be advisable to avoid applying to these types of agent as even in the extremely unlikely event that such an agent saw fit to take you on, it probably wouldn’t be beneficial to a budding career, as it is likely that you will be overlooked and overshadowed by those in constant demand. Thus joining an agency on the grounds of its kudos may not necessarily be good for your career.
‘Big name’ agents can be found in publications directly next to, and on the same page of very small agents who represent actors with no previous experience on the commercial, extra or walk-on and modelling circuit. That is why it is essential to do your research before approaching an agency.
Rejection will almost be guaranteed during the hunt for an agent and so you might have to contact a large number of agents before you find one to take you on. The Timing of an application is vital for experienced actors seeking representation. For example it is a good idea to write to an agent if you are about to appear in a television, or film production so that an agent can view your work and has more tangible assets to consider. Likewise if you are going to be featured in a commercial as part of a national campaign then it is advisable to write to an agent at the time when the campaign becomes visible and your profile is raised. The fact you are working will also put you in good stead to at least get you through the door. If you are selected to attend an interview with an acting agent from your photograph and résumé, at some point they are going to want to see your work. Therefore it is a good idea to create a DVD or youtube link of your performances, especially if you are not working at the time.
See you on next week with the final part of the Beginners Guide of Getting Started in Hollywood.