How do I get an Agent?
There is no tried and true method that you can follow to magically acquire representation. It’s a frustrating grind of submissions, auditions, callbacks and interviews. It’s one of the hardest things just to get your foot in the door.
So how do I get an Agent?
It’s called the grind for a reason. You need experience. That infernal circle will automatically come to mind. I can’t get an agent without experience, and I can’t get experience without an agent. Every new actor starting out has said this, and they’re not wrong. But there is experience to be had out there without representation. Unfortunately, this experience is usually unpaid or not very well paid. Basically, you need to audition for everything. Student productions, micro-budget independents, independent theatre productions….everything. This grind is not only about experience, it’s also about networking. The more you get out there, the better chance you have of meeting the person that’s going to give you your first big break.
It is important to learn how to be realistic about the roles you can play and market yourself accordingly. Having worked in a talent agency for a few years, and sifting through the hundreds of submission we received, the fastest method of turning away talent was to weed out the ‘leading men/women’. The reality of the situation is that these roles are scarce. A movie will have one or two, sometimes three leading parts, and thirty supporting/principal parts just waiting for you to grab. Some of the most successful actors in the business in terms of how often they work get hired constantly in these supporting roles. Having aspirations to be the lead is not a bad thing; striving for the best should be your lifelong ambition. But when you’re getting going, as a young actor or someone beginning new later in life, you need to find out where you fit in a logical, rational way that can be ‘sold’.
The easiest way to show your versatility is to have several different headshots that are all very different. One should be the good looking, good natured version of you. Another, the bad ass. You can have a slime ball version as well, or older/younger options. If an agent can look at you and immediately see several roles you could fill, then they’re much more likely to call you.
Agents are not always accepting submissions. When they are, they are often looking for a specific type to fill a hole in their roster. Not getting a callback doesn’t mean that you’re not good enough. It may only mean that they’re looking for a middle aged scruffy looking male, and not a young cute blonde woman. With hundreds of submissions to go through, if you don’t fit the type, they might not look at your resume at all.
Perfecting your submission:
Submissions used to be a pain. Hard copies are still recommended for some older agencies, but e-submissions are becoming very common. As long as they’re formatted properly and easy for agents to go through, they’ll consider them just the same as hard copies.
Your submission should be simple. One or more professional headshots, a resume, and maybe a demo. Think about what your submission looks like at first glance. Is the more important information on the last page? They need to get past that first glance and they won’t if everything isn’t right there and easy to see. Is your resume well formatted? Formatting Actor resumes has settled into a very simple template that you should follow. Three columns for each section. Project title. Type of role. Director/Production Company. Educations can be simplified into two columns.
*A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE WHEN EMAILING SUBMISSIONS: Your resume MUST be in PDF or JPEG!!! With the mixture of Mac and PC, and both new and old version of WORD kicking around, PDF and JPEG are the only universal formats that will not mess with your layout. And your photo should be no bigger then 2 MB.
Please remember to write something in the body of your email. Your cover letter can be attached if you want, but the email itself should never, ever be blank. It’s unprofessional and comes across as lazy. Even a brief, well formatted “Please accept the attached documents as my submission to be considered for representation with your agency. I’d be happy to answer further questions or clarify any of the contents.” It goes a long way.
Have you gotten in the door? Yay!
When you get that call from an agent saying they want to see you, it means they think your look is right, and they now want to see if you can act! This is where you get tested. Sometimes, they will send you a scene. If they don’t, always have a scene prepared. Two contrasting scenes would be best. Be prepared for a cold read as well. You can also bring in your demo for them to watch. Make them feel like you would be awesome to work with and care a great deal about your own career. If you care about your career, and you’re willing to work hard for it, then they’ll understand that you’re serious about every role that they submit you for.
The biggest thing to remember is to not get discouraged. Becoming an actor is hard work, and getting an agent can be super frustrating. Just keep working as much as you can. Work, work, work! As much, if not more focus should be placed on working, than finding an agent. Once you’ve found an agent, keeping working. You’re not handing your career over to your agent. You’re obtaining a valuable ally in the search for success. You need to be as active as your agent!