What I Expect of My Talent Agent (Actors Say The Darndest Things)

The young, modern actor is possibly as vain as is Donald J. Trump is a Titanic egomaniac.

Talent Agency

Paul Russell_HeadshotPaul Russell
PaulRussell.net

How to find a talent agent

The young, modern actor is possibly as vain as is Donald J. Trump is a Titanic egomaniac.

Student actors at NYU-Tisch wrote a 200 – 400 word essay entitled, ‘What I Expect of My Relationship with An Agent.’ What follows are direct quotes from Millennial actors voicing their expectations of a talent agent:

“An agent gets 10% commission, and is therefore only responsible for 10% of my career.”

“My attitude towards agents is… I just see them as a hindrance to my goal, rather than a tool to help me achieve my dream.”

“I’ve always known that if I was really interested in acting, at some point I would have to actually learn what an agent is, in the same way I knew that some point during my adolescence I would inevitably need to have my wisdom teeth pulled…”

“What I want my agent to be like is a Queen Latifah style character – friendly, big, fun and trustworthy. I don’t know what Queen Latifah is like in person but my imagination is that she’s kind and honest… someone who offers coffee or tea.”

“I’ll talk to them on the phone sort of the way that I’ll talk to a receptionist at a dentist’s office, only I’ll know them better.”

(Don’t expect a lollipop after each visit.)

“I would also want my agent to be part of an agency who is bicoastal, if not more coastal than that.”

“I expect a lot of individual attention from my agent.”

Most of the neophyte actors in this exercise detailed that their only reference to agents was based on narcissistic caricatures of talent agents as portrayed by actors.

To be fair I understand the naïveté of these young talents who barely know the difference between an open call and an EPA. When a 24 year-old actor, I knew nothing of agents, casting directors or how to go about the business of show business other than scouring trades for jobs, and then lining up to advertised open castings. Ignorance during discovery is not a fault if the seeker is open to learning. What’s dangerous to career longevity is arrogance: a close relative to ignorance.

The Millennial actors participating in the essay exercise have a career threatening virus of  ‘me-itis.’

On one participating Millennial actor’s paper I circled each occasion the actor began a sentence with, “I expect” or “I want.” There were 20 plus occurrences. Where is the ‘we’ from the actor in expectation of the actor to talent agent relationship? I asked many of the actor-students, “Other than the 10% commission you pay to the agent, what else do you bring to the relationship?” Silence.

The Millennial actors were then assigned to read vital chapters from ACTING: Make It Your Business on how to get an agent, followed by reading chapters on how to maintain a healthy and productive relationship with representation. Better informed, the actors then keyed on their laptops a second essay about their expectations of an actor-to-agent relationship.

I was heartened by the small percentage of actor-students – who after reading ACTING: Make It Your Businesss chapters on agents in which LA and New York talent agents and actors discuss their relationships – that some viewpoints became more universally aware rather than introspective with a spotlight.

“On the first page of Chapter 12 what struck me most was “A talent rep faces more defeats in a single hour than one actor does in a month.” This helped me think about who becomes an agent. Not only are they enduring such drastic rejection but also their pay checks are not guaranteed to be lucrative.”

(Spot-on correct with both statements. Particularly the last. I know agents — at respected agencies with visibly working clients — who have gone weeks or months without pay. These champions of their clients put the solvency of the agency first before their own needs.)

“After reading the quorum of agents, I realized that there are agents who truly care about actors and the art they create. While the agent is absolutely responsible for submitting you for all projects they think you’re right for, you still have to remember your job as a salesperson (of yourself, that is) is never done – always keep marketing yourself! Agents are not all Ari Golds and they work hard just like you do.”

“I had forgotten that they only take 10% commission so unless they have lots of big name clients they’re living about as comfortably as you are.”

“I have a better understanding of specific behaviors to avoid – behaviors that imply a lack of trust and loyalty. For example, a client should make sure to call the agent only for good specific reasons and NOT to tell the agent, “I saw that ‘blank’ project is looking for a blonde with blue eyes.”

But some minds remain vulnerable to the me-itis bug. After reading the chapters on agents an actor wrote of agents:

“…I have some new insights to the agent process. An early one being that an agent doesn’t receive more than 10% of earnings ever. That’s a relief.”

One Millennial actor though summed up succinctly the healthiest outlook for ‘What I Expect of My Relationship with An Agent’:

“You should trust your agent – that he or she is really trying to get you seen by casting directors/people…. The agent doesn’t do all the work. The actor must also be looking for auditions.

“An agent isn’t a piñata of job offers that you hit up for candy when things are getting stale.

“An agent is your cheerleader, not your bitch.”

Well said. Thank you.

Share this:

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Elon and Wright State University. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

Love the Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

AMIYB_Amazon“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(Hamilton,  NBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, The Intern, Into The Woods – The Movie, Sex & The City)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)

 

“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates

 

“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress

 

“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.

 

“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

 

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:
Make It Your Business
!

When is the Best Time of Year for Actors Seeking Representation?

When is the best time of year for seeking a (new) manager and/or agent?

Timing: Finding a talent agent / Changing talent agencies

When is the best time of year for seeking a (new) manager and/or agent?

Before and after pilot season. And… early to mid-summer.

During the summer months casting slows. Agents and managers are freer to explore expanding their client lists. During this sluggish semester talent represntatives, aside from sitting at their desks surfing the web, are seeking new clients while dumping troubled and lackluster clients. Dropping actors who have a history of:

– Being high-maintenance

– Not returning emails, texts, and or calls regarding audition appointments

– Under-performing (i.e. call-back ratio is low, actor doesn’t book jobs that are commisionable)

June to July’s end is the best time for actors without representation (or represented actors seeking a change) to seek their champion.

Agents and managers are more receptive to taking on new clients before the hustle of pitching for projects resumes late July, mid-August. There’s no better time of year for seeking an a (new) champion of your talent, fully prepared with revamped marketing materials and honed interview skills.

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

Love the Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

AMIYB_Amazon“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(NBC’s Peter Pan – LIVE!, Into The Woods – The Movie, Wicked, Sex & The City)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned over thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Elon, Temple and Wright State University. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

ACTING: Make It Your Business

A Rotten Tomato Grows in NJ? – Talent ‘Agent’ Requires Upfront Registration Fee

Exit 13 on the New Jersey Turnpike isn’t the only source for a rotten smell in the Garden State… A New Jersey modeling and talent services organization offers the potential for talent representation partly dependent upon a fee.

Image6

Exit 13 on the New Jersey Turnpike isn’t the only source for a rotten smell in the Garden State… And New Jersey Consumer Affairs, via Superior Court rulings, have in the past fined in the 6-figure range some deceptive NJ talent representatives to clean up their stench.

Talent representatives in New Jersey are governed by New Jersey Employment and Personnel Services code NJSA 34:8‐43 et seq and NJSA 56:8‐1 et seq.

Section 34:8‐51: Requirements, section b, paragraph 6 of the New Jersey statute states:

“ b.   In addition to the requirements set forth in subsection a., each employment agency which charges or may charge the job seeker a fee shall:

  “(6)  Obtain a bona fide order for employment prior to collecting any fee from a job seeker or sending out a job seeker to any place of employment…

“…no charge or advance fee of any kind shall be charged, demanded, collected, or received by the agency from a job seeker seeking employment until employment has been obtained by or through the efforts of the agency;”

Section 34:8‐65, paragraph i states:

    “Not more than one‐third of any fee, charge or commission shall be collected by the registered organization for its services or products more than 60 days in advance of the date on which the registrant provides its services or products as stated in its contract.”

‘Registrant’ being the person represented for the outreach of employment. In this case i.e. ‘actor.’

Presently, a northern New Jersey modeling and talent services organization offers the potential for talent representation partly upon an up-front fee. Located in a bucolic suburb of New York the NJ talent company charges the advance registration fee for as advertised on their website:

“One of the top child talent agencies in the NYC area, [We’re] proud to open doors of opportunity to any child or teen wanting to work in showbiz…. [Our company] also offers amazing bookings and castings… representing young talent just beginning a career in the business. Highly regarded as the go-to source for extras casting by top production companies, our actors in both Divisions work frequently in top television and film productions, commercials and print campaigns and are an elite group of budding professionals enjoying early successes.”

The talent representation company in which the owner is self-described as an agent further stresses online:

“OUR DIVISION BOOKS CHILDREN AND TEENS WITH LITTLE TO NO EXPERIENCE IN NON-SPEAKING ROLES FOR FILM, TELEVISION AND BOUTIQUE MODELING PROJECTS.”

Past readers of Answers for Actors may note a commonality of ALL CAPS UTILIZED in claims made on the websites of the alleged pay-to-play operators.

The NJ talent company charges a $249 registration fee for a division of their clients. An up-front payable for an initial interview with young actors between the ages of 2 – 17. The registration fee is lessened $50 if a code, provided on the company’s website, is utilized in the online registration process.

Along with the registration fee is an additional fee that is be checked-off and agreed to. Whether or not the additional fee is required is not made clear on the company website:

“MONTHLY FEE FOR [OUR] EXTRAS DIVISION BOOKING SOFTWARE PROFILE IS $20/mo.”

The talent company’s website advises that the interview and registration fee do not guarantee representation. Representation that, at first blush, seems mostly for background work which can be found by any civilian for virtually free on their own.

The company does have two divisions of clients. One division for background actors. The other division apparently includes: “established and emerging professional children who can be seen regularly in television, film and print projects such as Disney and Nickelodeon commercials…” After paying for the lower division how and when does the representation for talent graduate beyond background work into the second division of “professional children who can be seen regularly in television, film and print projects?” Is the registration fee for the lesser division returned once the child is submitted in response to a Breakdown to which the child is cast as a principal?

Answers for Actors learned via Thom Goff, Director of Operations, East Coast at Breakdown Services, Ltd. that the northern New Jersey operation does hold a subscription to BreakdownsBreakdowns which include principal casting (commercials, pilots, episodics, Broadway, major studio films, and respected regional theaters). The self-proclaimed “Child and Teen Self-Management” company openly advertises to book more than just background:

“OUR CURRENT ROSTER OF ACTORS AND MODELS HAVE ENJOYED TOP BOOKINGS IN MAJOR NETWORK TV SHOWS, PILOTS AND COMMERCIALS, STUDIO FEATURE FILMS ALONGSIDE A-LIST ACTORS AND DIRECTORS…”

Breakdown Services in the past has strongly frowned upon representation, with a subscription to Breakdowns, charging clients any fees beyond allowable commission (10% for franchised agents and whatever percentage a manager gets their client to agree to). Answers for Actors reached out to SAG-AFTRA’s Megan Capuano, Associate National Director, Professional Representatives for verification if the self-defined agent and company is franchised to represent union members. SAG-AFTRA’s Communications Department responded that the company in question is not franchised with SAG-AFTRA. New Jersey statute permits employment agencies and talent companies seeking work on behalf of their clients to be termed ‘agent.’ The northern New Jersey talent company is a licensed business in New Jersey to operate as an employment agency. As documented in New Jersey Employment and Personnel Services code NJSA 34:8‐43 et seq and NJSA 56:8‐1 et seq, employment agencies are not to seek or request up-front fees of clients. Actor unions also have policies barring pay-to-play representation of actors.

In addition to talent representation, acting classes, and in-house extras casting for outside production companies the northern New Jersey talent company also offers headshot packages for children at $199 advertised as being, “Child & Teen Photo Shoots by a Kids Talent Agent.” Blow-outs and make-up available at an additional $100. The $599 acting classes have check-out options during registration: Order a headshot session. Or add ‘Keep Calm & Call My Agent’ t-shirts. Two color choices. All sizes. $26.50 each.

The talent company operates in an upscale town with hillside mansions overlooking New York City in the distance. Residents include a famous, late-night talk show host. Broadway and Hollywood talent. Franchised talent agents. C.S.A. casting directors. And behind-the-scenes creatives of the entertainment industry. But several blocks from 8-figure manses that are home to entertainment pros is the talent agency requiring up-front fees for a division of the talent they represent. The talent company also has an in-house casting director whose prior experience before casting is detailed online as having, “a previous career in book publishing and store management.”

Pay-to-play-to-be-submitted-for-casting consideration operations are no longer confined to malls and McMansion bedroom communities. The questionable practices thrive and exist online, and in our backyards. Supported by neighbors we believe to be educated on questionable practices within entertainment industry’s ranks. But as long as there are the star-struck wishing to be famous there will be hands and websites holding open doors for dollars. And as long as there are adults chasing the stage and screen ambitions of their prodigy and established entertainment professionals harvesting the children to fill roles these companies, some well-known like the New Jersey operation and others existing under entertainment industry’s radar, the pay-to-play game continues.

[Author’s Note: Sourced quotes from the talent company’s website are documented via time and date stamped screen captures.]

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Elon and Wright State University. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

ACTING: Make It Your Business

Legit Talent Agents on Disreputable Talent Managers

There’s a cold war raging within talent representation ranks.

Legit (TV, film & theater) talent agents and reputable talent managers with unblemished careers have long been agitated by the questionable actions of peer talent representation misrepresenting intent to actors. Actions, sometimes violating local and state labor and/or consumer laws, that sully the trade of championing actors. Questionable practices such as charging clients $500 for representation as does as the Long Island talent manager who goes at great lengths to state publicly that she is and is not a talent manager. This talent manager also offers a per month rate payable by actors for the actor to be submitted by the manager to extras casting offices for background casting consideration. These behaviors prompt review—once again—of credible talent representation as is recognized by actor union franchised talent agents.

Franchised talent agents participated in the writing of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes & Achieve Success as a Working Actor (Penguin / Random House). The agents represent(ed) Oscar, Emmy, and TONY-winning actors. What follows are excerpts of their advisories on managers:

From CH 12 Agents: An Introduction:

I’ve worked with many agents: affable agents, asshole agents, considerate agents, careless agents, agents who were agents while looking for direction, and agents who found their calling early on and had been agents for most of their adult lives. When I pushed myself to write this book, I knew I would have to cast for agents. I wanted widely respected agents who were knowledgeable, affable, blunt advisors. I wanted people of candor. I wanted agents who had a passion for being champions of actors. I found four, a quorum. All are agents I’ve worked with repeatedly. Agents I knew to be more than their jobs. Agents with respect for actors. Agents who focus more on the work than do Ego Agents, who concentrate on how many recognizable industry names they can acquire in their personal phone list. The Ego Agent is a personality that I really despise.

The quorum of agents—Philip Adelman of the Gage Group, Lynne Jebens of the Krasny Office, Cyd LeVin of Independent Artists Agency, and Jack Menashe, owner of Independent Artists Agency—does not contain a single ego-driven member. Selfless supporters of artists, dedicated to their clients, these four have, combined, over one-hundred years of experience in the entertainment industry…

Agents On Managers

Does an actor need a manager? “No, no, no, no. And no,” was Lynne Jebens’s ardent reply. Jebens then bluntly vented her thoughts: “I think managers have become a waste of time. Anybody can hang a shingle out and call themselves a manager now.

“I think managers, like in the old days, should be with two types of actors. Either the actor is too big, a major industry star or industry name, to go through all the material that is being sent to the actor—then the actor needs a manager who’ll weed through the material. Or, if you’re a beginning actor and you can’t get an agent, a manager is the only way to go.”

Philip Adelman’s view of an actor’s need for a manager reflected that of Jebens. “If I were an actor who couldn’t get an agent, I might seek out a manager to help me; to use them, to effect meetings with agents. If I were a star trying to choose between projects and have somebody to package a deal for me, perhaps I would want a manager. I can’t imagine why anybody in the great middle would. I don’t get it.”

Managers have taken it upon themselves to change their role from being an actor’s advisor and filterer of information to becoming producers and unlicensed talent employment agents. Franchised agents who must follow federal, state, and local laws, and who are regulated by the unions, take umbrage at the unlicensed encroachment upon their territory. Adelman, past president of the National Association of Talent Representatives (NATR), has been at odds with the unions for years over trying to have managers regulated. “Managers functioning as agents,” Adelman began, “has become an unfair business practice. Agents are franchised, we’re licensed. I’m bonded. I’ve been fingerprinted. I have to sign actors to contracts that the unions hand us. I have to obey an inch-thick book of rules that the unions impose upon us. We sign on so that we have the right to thereby exclusively represent union members. We’re regulated as to how much commission we can charge. Managers are not. We’re regulated as to the length of time we can sign a client, and actors have generous outs that the unions provide them in our papers. Managers can do what they wish. They’re submitting talent. They’re negotiating. They’re [acting as] agents. They’re doing it without bonds, licenses, and franchise agreements. They’re supposed to be advising. They’re supposed to be doing everything short of soliciting employment and negotiating for their clients. That’s unfair competition.”

As Adelman noted, agents are held accountable to the unions. This accountability extends into the employment agents seek for their union clients. Managers are not accountable to anyone. “Perfect example of accountability,” Jebens began. “If I send somebody in for a movie and I make them sign the contract and then they get to the set and they’ve never seen the script and it turns out it’s a pornography movie. The client is going to call the union in a panic and say, ‘Hey, my agent made me sign a contract for a porn movie and I didn’t know it was a porn movie!’ Well, the union is going to come after me. They are going to have my head on a pike in Times Square!! I could lose my franchise for conduct like that! Had it been a manager, the union’s gonna say to the actor, ‘Sorry, Charlie, you signed a contract. Nothing we can do.’”

Jack Menashe’s disdain for managers is obvious. “Managers… really annoying,” Menashe said with a smirk. “Most of the managers are out there because they want to work in their slippers.” Menashe was referring to agents being required to have a standard business office while managers are free to work at home from their kitchen table. “They don’t want to go and have a license with the state,” Menashe continued, “because they want to be able to produce, which agents are not allowed to do. Most of the managers have the title of ‘Production’ in their company name, yet they’ve never even produced gas.”

Gaseous or not, modern managers and their present role as representation baffles Menashe. “I don’t understand the role of managers nowadays,” Menashe said, shaking his head. Years ago management was established because actors desired a sounding board, someone to go between the agent and production. Someone to help connect actors to a project, writers, directors, and others who could help the actor grow within the business. Throughout the years, management has become a synonym for “agency without a license.” Most managers today call themselves “managers” because it’s easier not to be tied down legally while collecting more money from their client.”

Menashe does have respect for some managers, legitimate ones who are not fly-by-night operators. “I think there’s a couple of good ones out there, and what I mean by good ones are managers that have truly connected themselves with writers and are knowledgeable of packaging. Packaging meaning bringing elements of a project such as director, writer, and actors they represent together to a studio or producer, and the producer picks up that project on the elements presented.”

You might assume that Cyd LeVin, as a former manager herself, would be a proponent of managers. She is, sort of, with a caveat. “I don’t believe in managers that never were agents in the past,” LeVin cautioned. “I don’t believe they have a handle on the business at all. I think that if managers are there helping the agent and actor get auditions, that’s fabulous! I think that if managers are helping an agent handle a difficult client, that’s fabulous. What I don’t love are managers that call me and are being a burden, pretending their doing their job by calling me to say, ‘Did you see in the Breakdowns that so-and-so was perfect?’ Actors don’t always need a manager.”

In my humble opinion, unless the actor is a star, or the actor cannot get an agent, the actor does not require a manager. If a working actor has a good agent, he or she doesn’t need a manager. Most managers today are no longer good listeners and advisors; they’re a mess of unproduced Web scripts and half-done deals.

Jebens was correct: Anyone can hang a shingle out and be a manager. I get submissions from “managers” who are the actor’s latest bed bumper or a relative or acquaintance of the actor. The actor foolishly believes he or she will favorably impress the casting director or agent by having someone else submit him or her for a project. No, it won’t. Agents and casting know who are the legitimate, quality managers, and we can immediately recognize faux managers or instant managers—a.k.a., cockroach managers.

Faux and cockroach managers are people on the far fringe of the industry who possess little to no experience in the talent trade. They often have a middling interest in entertainment and a client list of two or three showcase-leech actors (actors who can only get showcases as work). Most of the cockroach manager’s income is earned via other sources beyond entertainment. Most don’t have an office. They have a cell phone and that’s it. No brick-and-morter address, no landline, no letterhead, and no business papers filed with the government required to work as a representative of talent. To grow their client base they rely on the naiveté of inexperienced actors desperate for representation of any kind, even if that representation is a guy on a street corner with a cell phone and telephone directory of agents and casting directors. The latter description is not an exaggeration; I’ve stumbled across such cockroach managers and ignored what little they had to offer. Cockroach managers don’t last long. Eventually they die out of the profession for lack of experience, ability, recognition, and quality clients…”

– – –

A manager charging clients fees, or pan-handling via Go Fund Me campaigns to raise monies for clients’ (child actors) union initiation fees devalues the profession of legitimate talent representation. Rot that spoils the lot with behavior that is beyond reasonable expectation of representation professionalism. In 2014 I was made aware of a pay-to-play management company that charged actors fees so that in return the actors would be submitted to casting directors. The more the actor paid, the more the office submitted the actor. That 2014 management company also sold casting Breakdowns to actors. For managers to receive Breakdowns, a manager must apply to Breakdown Services which includes a process of scrutiny. Managers who do not meet the professional standards equal to that of franchised talent agents are rejected by Breakdown Services. The rejected managers will often then resort to getting casting Breakdowns illegally. Breakdown Services filed suit against the 2014 management operation and won their case against the proprietors. Allegedly the talent managers had been selling Breakdowns to actors previously under other management company names. And several players charging actors pay-to-play are actors themselves. And one of the actors purportedly now works with a manager on Long Island.

As long as the parents of child actors, and actors themselves pay non-commission fees for ‘representation’ the longer these identities continue to besmirch the legitimacy of licensed, bonded, and union acknowledged talent representation and the legitimate talent managers.

The L.A. City Attorney’s Office shares the Following Advisories to Actors & Parents of Young Actors:

Courtesy L.A. City Attorney's Office
Courtesy L.A. City Attorney’s Office

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

Love the Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

AMIYB_Amazon“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(NBC’s Peter Pan – LIVE!, Into The Woods – The Movie, Wicked, Sex & The City)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

Share this:

Share Answers for Actors:

Facebook Twitter More...

StumbleUpon.com
E-mail Post to Friends…

Follow Paul Russell Casting:

follow Paul on Facebookfollow Paul on Twitter

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Elon and Wright State University. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

Get One-On-One:

Get Work:

Follow:

Classes with Paul Russell Paul's book ACTING: Make It Your Business!

Paul on Twitter

Paul Russell on Facebook

Visit Paul @ PaulRussell.net

 

ACTING: Make It Your Business

10 Tips Talent from Agents to Actors on a Successful Representation

Actors landing a talent agent may be the simplest career chore on an actor’s to do list. That’s easy. What’s harder? [Read more…]

talent agent

Paul Russell_Headshot

Paul Russell
PaulRussell.net

.

Actors landing a talent agent may be the simplest career chore on an actor’s to do list. The harder toil? Keeping an agent; growing a successful professional relationship with the talent agent demands of the actor more than just booking gigs and paying the agent commission.

Hollywood and Broadway talent agents are approached and asked, “What can an actor do to maintain a healthy actor-to-agent relationship? The variety of talent agents either have offices on the east or west coast, or are bi-coastal. The agents represent TONY, Emmy, and/or OSCAR winners. Several talent agents represent developmental actors. Each talent agent responding has a long-standing reputation for championing actors with a genuine love for the actor’s craft.

Included among the agents are: Michael Goddard (Owner Partner – CGF Talent), Craig Holzberg (Owner – Avalon Artists), Ann Kelly (Senior Legit Agent – Judy Boals, Inc.), Ken Melamed (Owner Partner – Bret Adams, Ltd.), Jack Menashe (Owner formerly of Independent Artists Agency), Chris Nichols (Owner – Revolution Talent), and Diane Riley (Harden-Curtis & Associates).

10 Tips from Talent Agents to Actors on a Successful Actor to Agent Relationship:

1. Take responsibility for your career.

One talent agent is resolute on actor career responsibility:

“Proactive clients—we like people who participate in their career.  I can’t feel like I want it more than you do. [The actor] knows what’s going on.  I can ask, ‘What’s out there that you are right for?’ and they can name 5 things off the top of their head.

They realize that this is a business, and they engage as if they are the president of their own company.”

2. “Communication, communication, communication!” one agent echoes her colleagues. She continues, “If you want to be seen for a project, give us as much info as possible i.e. ‘I know the director from grad school.’ Or, ‘I did a 4-week intensive with the casting director, etc.’”

A NYC talent agency owner agrees and expands on the importance of actor-to-agent communication:

“Communication is the most important part of the actor/agent relationship.  Any time I have ever had the relationship go south it is because communication has broken down on one side or the other.  Like any relationship, [communication] takes work. I don’t ever want clients to feel like that they can’t talk to me. In this age of emails/text I find that actual communication is often lost.

90% of the contact between actor and agent is on the phone or email. When you are going to be coming by the office MAKE SURE YOU LOOK GOOD.  It is our frame of reference for you. There are times where you will have to come by on a moment’s notice but if our frame of reference is of you with your hair under a bandanna and wearing a pair of Uggs it makes our job harder.”

A competing talent agency owner adds that communication is organic:

“I’ve been either an agent, or an assistant, or a casting assistant for a lot of years now and the one thing I find comforting when talking to my clients or even other actors is the sense of family; that we are all in this together and in that, there is a respect that can’t be made up.  It must feel authentic when deep in conversation about our business and if it doesn’t—you know it. I can’t fake the thrilling moments I have when an actor is so good they sweep you off your feet.  I love it when we can talk; when we can trust each other in the work each of us does in search of ‘the best.’

To call a client a friend really makes me feel good. We are more than just a business relationship. There is passion both ways. A feeling that I treasure and am thankful for.”

3. Be contract savvy. Contribute to negotiations.

4. Be ready when opportunity knocks. Be prepared and on time for all auditions, and meetings with industry.

5. Constantly work on honing your skills. No matter how proficient you believe your skills continue to take on-camera classes, dance classes, acting classes, and actor branding-marketing classes. A good portion of the agents agents stress that their clients take business of acting classes no matter how proficient the actor may believe themselves at marketing who they are in and out of the audition room. One agent was emphatic:

“We’re partners in your business. Equal to me, I expect my actors to effectively engage in expanding their marketability. The business of the business is constantly changing. Continue to learn it by taking classes on the business of acting.”

6. Continually provide your representation with updated materials, headshots, resumes and reels.

7. Have defined goals for your career, and a strategy to attain them.

8. Focus on the long-term and not just what’s happening now.

9. Focus on booking the job for every audition room you walk into.

10. Network. Network. Network.

Each of the talent agents emphasize the absolute need for an actor to be a networker, including this talent agency owner’s advisory:

“Go to EPAs. Get in front of casting directors who may have forgotten or are unaware of you. In addition, attend casting director workshops. The more a casting director sees you the more they remember you.

Revel in your relationships with casting. Send ‘Thank you’ notes. Casting and agents do read and appreciate these. Don’t listen to the naysayer agents and casting directors who babble that they never read a thank you card. They’re either liars, or overly self-centered.”

The talent agent-actor relationship is a marriage. The union is firstly based on mutual compatibility. The actor going into the relationship solely with the thought of, “What can this agent do for me,” is the actor bound for a short-lived career. While an agent collects 10% commission from the actor the duo of actor and agent is a 50-50 partnership promoting the actor to attain desired goals.

Actors who believe the agent “does all the work” while the actor reclines waiting for texts and emails from their champion is the actor with a career coming to a close faster than the curtain fell on the original Broadway musical Carrie.

My best,
Paul

Share this:

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Elon and Wright State University. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

Love the Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

AMIYB_Amazon“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(NBC’s Peter Pan – LIVE!, Into The Woods – The Movie, Wicked, Sex & The City)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:
Make It Your Business
!

 

 

Don’t Be This Actor! – #1 Professional Relationship Killer

Casting directors, directors, talent representatives and producers often encounter the-world-belongs-to-me thespians who pretend friendship in hopes of leveraging career opportunities. Repulsed they avoid actors who…

Justin—never one to be mistaken for for Mr. Congeniality—turned to his buddy and quipped, “If I go to a bar I’m bound to get laid before the ugly lights burn.”

Sean peered at him. “Just because you’re single and breathing doesn’t mean everyone will drop a condom for you.”

Justin’s blind sense of entitlement excels in some opportunistic actors who masquerade as friends to colleagues but under their congenial masks they’re social piranhas: feeding their career’s insatiable ambition appetite from a trough of other’s good will.

Casting directors, directors, talent representatives,  producers, and universally aware actors often encounter the-world-belongs-to-me thespians who pretend friendship in hopes of leveraging career opportunities. Repulsed by repetitious actor retailing, talent champions, entertainment employers, and artists favoring integrity over an ambitious agenda, avoid the egocentric actor who leverages career momentum by offering a false friendship.

Recently a friend, who has furthered the career goals of many industry and household known actors, wearily commented that the actors he’d helped for decades and purported to term him ‘friend’ no longer contact him or return his ‘how are you’ inquiries since his pursuing a new career beyond entertainment. He’s no longer of use to their business aspirations. On occasion an actor will randomly e-mail him inquiring halfheartedly, “How’s life?” Then follows quickly the true outreach’s purpose; the social piranha desires career advancement assistance.

Another entertainment industry peer voiced similar of her being wanted by actors only for what she had to offer to representing their careers. As an agent of three-plus decades, who was formerly an actress, she provides her knowledge of audition technique and scene study at various studios. When she’s approached by actors seeking her for classes too many of the actors don’t first ask, “How can you guide me with this challenge in my skills I’m having?” Instead the actors ask, “If I study with you, will you also represent me?” Her response is, “One of my loves is sharing my experience and industry knowledge in order to benefit an actor’s skill set. I don’t teach for pay-to-play. I teach because I love actors.” She’ s lost many prospective students with her answer.

I received an e-mail, similar to many sent from actors never met:

“Thanks for all the info you post and opportunities to learn – I ordered your book from Amazon earlier today.”

I smile, until…

“Do you have a role for me? I want your feedback on my reel at **********.”

The actress doesn’t hear the shower beckoning her.

Ability and appropriateness are the first major factors to winning career goals. Honest intent, without exploitation, of your relations is equally as important a factor. No one is entitled to anything beyond living freely in pursuit of joy.

When reflecting upon your industry relations, or you’re tempted to link via a social network with industry ask yourself,  “Do I want to leverage (i.e. use) this person for my goals? Or do I want to build a relationship with this person I get so we both get to know the other for ourselves, and not for what we each do?”

Honest friendships foster mutual success, and opportunity…

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

Love the Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

AMIYB_Amazon“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(NBC’s Peter Pan – LIVE!, Into The Woods – The Movie, Wicked, Sex & The City)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

Share Answers for Actors:

Facebook Twitter More...

StumbleUpon.com
E-mail Post to Friends…

Follow Paul Russell Casting:

follow Paul on Facebookfollow Paul on Twitter

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Elon, Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

Get One-On-One:

Get Work:

Get The Feed:

Classes with Paul Russell Paul's book ACTING: Make It Your Business!

Answers For Actors Feed

Visit Paul @ PaulRussell.net and/or:

Paul Russell on Facebook Paul on Twitter Paul on MySpace
ACTING: Make It Your Business

How to Contact Casting Directors & Talent Agents

Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter, email, land mail, carrier pigeon, or stalker?

So many platforms of which to connect personally and professionally: which outlet is the best for unsolicited actor-to-gate keeper communication? Which is the worst? Find out in this week’s must-read Answers for Actors.

Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter, email, land mail, carrier pigeon, or stalker?

So many platforms of which to connect personally and professionally: which outlet is the best for unsolicited actor-to-gate keeper communication? Which is the worst?

All. And All.

Huh?

Yep. There is no clear-cut, saw-the trees-down-to-be-seen answer.

So then, what to do?

Utilize all platforms. Retailers do the same to you, yet does MACY*S or Walmart wither with worry as does an actor who insecurely thinks, “If I contact a casting director via Facebook, or send an email to an agent, or send out land mail to both, they’ll hate me.”

First of all; our memories are short like a voter’s.

Secondly; retailers don’t cower that you’ll never shop or consider their services because they contacted you. Nor do their hired advertiser and/or marketer fear the client’s obscurity because of sales outreach on behalf of the client. As a marketer-in-exile I know people return to a product that was once ignored if never tried. And even if tried, and disliked, people are willing to give a person, product, or place a second chance.

“But casting director, Mr. I’m-Better-Than-You tells me never to contact him or any other casting directors via [insert platform],” you say. Good! Now you know Mr. I’m-Better-Than-You’s communication preference. But for him to speak for all casting is ludicrous. Unless he’s an omnipresent psychic, the casting director doesn’t know for certain how colleagues react to each unsolicited communication by actors. Same goes for talent agents, managers, producers, directors, or anyone in position of hiring talent.

So what’s an actor’s marketing strategy?

An actor’s unsolicited outreach options:

1. Research each hirer or representative of talent of your interest as to how they prefer to be contacted. Some will list their preference(s) on their website, or in guides like The Call Sheet.

The employers and gate-keepers who don’t publicly announce how they wish to be contacted are fair game. If you contact a casting director via Twitter, and that casting director hasn’t made public unsolicited communication preferences, then they have no right to bitch and moan when tweeted to.

Or…

2. Reach out to targeted employers and gate keepers via as many platforms as you desire. But not all at once. And don’t do so blindly. If you have no interest in print work, why contact modeling agencies? I know of too many actors who contact Legit agents for Commercial representation. Most Legit agents don’t cover commercials. Research who best matches your goals (that’s why God and Al Gore created the Internet).

In my classes, and when I teach at universities, I tire of hearing actors say, “I’ve been told by Ms. Talent-Agent-To-The-Muses never to contact talent agents via social networks.” That’s only that talent agent’s personal preference blindly blanketing the industry, and hobbling your marketing efforts. If I told you never to eat pickles because I loath the slimy sour phallus, would you? Or would you decide on your preference (or dislike) for pickles via your judgment?

I get unsolicited land-mail and email, to which a reply is almost always returned (sometimes weeks later). I make the choice of how I respond.

Unless your target publicly states how they wish, or don’t desire to be contacted, you firmly choose how to distribute your outreach. It’s your career, not theirs. Take control.

My best,
Paul

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

Love the Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

AMIYB_Amazon“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(NBC’s Peter Pan – LIVE!, Into The Woods – The Movie, Wicked, Sex & The City)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

Share Answers for Actors:

Facebook Twitter More...

StumbleUpon.com
E-mail Post to Friends…

Follow Paul Russell Casting:

follow Paul on Facebookfollow Paul on Twitter

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

Get One-On-One:

Get Work:

Get The Feed:

Classes with Paul Russell Paul's book ACTING: Make It Your Business!

Answers For Actors Feed

Visit Paul @ PaulRussell.net and/or:

Paul Russell on Facebook Paul on Twitter Paul on MySpace
ACTING: Make It Your Business