Updated: Jul 7, 2019
I wanted to share with you a little insight. Summed up here, a few of my thoughts about working as talent.
There are a lot of calls, emails, texts, facebook messages, LinkedIn notices, Instagram DM's and word of mouth or face to face enquiries that I try to manage on a day to day basis. Unfortunately, this takes me away from securing people paid, professional work, so I hope that by reading the little articles and following us on Facebook for the auditions, it will help those interested in gathering information. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. A lot that I wasn't aware of as a model myself.
I can't stress this enough: An Agent is very different to a Manager. A Manager will not hear of all the work coming in but they can be extremely helpful with your social media and marketing as far as your "Brand" is concerned. Think of the term "Mumager" that was introduced to us by Kim Kardashian. It's a clever play on words, but very accurate in it's definition.
As an agent, my business day needs to focus on the countless auditions and roles that come in and if I have the right talent to submit. I also speak to the casting directors and producers to help them find the right people. If I am not booking you, I am not profitable. It is in my best interests to know the people on my books and establish a friendly but professional relationship with them. I need to know you personally to a degree. How does this happen..? With a quick text or a funny meme that lets me know who YOU are... tagging your photos with @reelactorsau, @reelmanagementmodels or @reelkidsau.. anything like this, lets me into your world without the pressure of asking me, "why haven't I booked anything yet?!" It reminds me who you are, that you are still having fun and the best trick of all, you are fresh in my mind if I get a last minute casting call. A great time to send me a fun or uplifting quote, is around 5pm to just after dinner.
Lately, work has landed in my inbox over the weekends and even up to 12:30am on a Sunday or as early as 5:30am. That means I rarely get time away from this business. Don't get me wrong. I love this crazy world. But I do need a break every now and again too. Thankfully, I have some lovely staff who are ready to answer questions or emails. As the business is expanding, we are getting lots more varied and repeat clients too.
Working together as a team gives me a lot of joy. Some of the mums even set up a Reel Facebook Support Group. I am not part of this, but the people who set it up, have got first hand experience and most importantly, they are good natured people who want to help.
The following article was sent to me as a news article from one of the many art subscriptions I belong to. It dawned on me, that reading this information might offer new insight but equally, that I was sharing the same perspective as other professionals in the industry.
I have worked as an agent for the last four and a half years on the Gold Coast and in Sydney for longer, supplying talent to the catwalks, stills for advertising, film and television industries both domestic and international. During this short time, I have learnt a few things about the relationship between talent and their talent representatives. It MUST be based on TRUST.
From Diane Geach:
First and foremost, there must be trust between the two parties. As talent, presumably you have diligently selected your representative and whilst this selection process can be a little convoluted and unsettling, particularly if you are new to the industry, without trust as the lynch-pin of this process, you will have very little substance in your relationship.
“ Your representative has likely been in this business for a much longer time than you and has your best interests at heart ”
Your representative has likely been in this business for a much longer time than you and has your best interests at heart. They know how the system works; when to push on your behalf and when to back off. They know what roles are worth and will advocate for you. And an aside, it goes without saying in my view, that talent who are unrepresented and rely on unregulated online casting sites for instance, are at a significant disadvantage.
Understand too, that whilst in some cases, acting may be a part time occupation and a source of additional income for you, your agent is likely running a full time business with the attendant imperatives and responsibilities. It is not a hobby to your agent or manager.
“ talent who are unrepresented and rely on unregulated online casting sites for instance, are at a significant disadvantage ”
In your mind you must be convinced that your agent or representative has your best interests at heart. There is no advantage in agents sending their talent to casting calls where it is patently obvious that the talent is not appropriate for the job. Less reputable agents will often do this to impress their charges or clients. I can’t count how many times I have heard from talent the refrain, ‘My agent keeps sending me to all these castings but I never get any of them’. If that is the case then your agent should at least be able to offer you a plausible reason for these less than acceptable casting outcomes. If they can’t, you will have to make a judgement as to whether a change of agent might be appropriate.
Honest communication between you and your representative is paramount. Be prepared to ask the hard questions and receive the tough answers. This is a business of acceptance and rejection. Understand though that in most cases, unsuccessfully auditioning for a role is not always a reflection on your looks or abilities. Sometimes it might literally be a case of your ‘face not fitting’ but it is never ‘personal’. Accept rejection, understand and learn from it, don’t be discouraged and move on until you have given yourself and your agent the best possible product you can - *hint: YOU are your product/brand.
Be honest too about your abilities and anything else that might affect your employment. You may need to undergo criminal police checks for some roles and whilst these checks are not compulsory and are confidential, it is unlikely that certain roles would go to talent without one. Let your agent know if you have any physical or health problems that might affect your performance. You don’t have to provide details, but merely indicate which roles might not suit you. And whatever you do, don’t fudge your skills or qualifications. If you are not SCUBA qualified, licensed to ride a motorcycle or can’t drive a manual car, don’t pretend you can. You’ll get found out (normally on the shoot day) with potentially disastrous (financial) consequences to you and your rep- resentative.
“ My agent keeps sending me to all these castings but I never get any of them ”
Agents cannot make-up jobs or conjure them out of thin air though. Pestering an agent to put you forward for a soapy role when there is patently no role requirement, is naive and counterproductive. You might think that the production could do with a glamorous fifteen year old, but unless the producers share your opinion, you’re whistling in the wind.
Don’t listen to friends or others who offer career advice but have little or no knowledge of our industry. Their qualifications often stem from hours watching dubious reality tv shows or
reading trashy ‘celebrity’ magazines, that have little connection to the real world.
“ don’t fudge your skills or qualifications ”
Assume though that your representative is attempting to do the right thing by you. You too have an obligation in this relationship. Casting is a highly competitive process and the opportunities it presents must be taken seriously. Understand that casting sessions are not always organised with the availability of talent at the forefront of considerations. You may have to be flexible with your times. This is a fast-moving business without the luxury of extended deadlines. There is no point complaining to your agent about lack of roles if you have been unavailable for casting sessions.
You should also have an up-to-date head shot, portfolio and ideally a showreel, slates or a self-test video. Consider undertaking multiple acting workshops or courses. These are all tools of your trade and often affect the very first impression prospective clients will have of you. They also cost money. Consider them as the cost of doing business. Without them, your agent is hamstrung and you will look unprofessional.
This is a great business but like all endeavours, the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. Hopefully some of the points raised above will help guide you in your efforts to become a successful and fulfilled performer.
Diane Geach has worked as a talent representative and manager for over 25 years and is the principal of Asialook Model and Talent Management. She can be contacted at email@example.com