Getting an agent is easy. Getting an agent who actually gets you auditions is another story. Since agents are only allowed to charge you 10% per cent of your pay, most agents focus on their very few "money makers." You need to get most of your auditions and work yourself. Keep in mind that lesser agents don't have much clout too.
Samuel French bookstore has a list of agents and who they represent; that's a good start.
Giving excellent head.
I think they made another thread about how I got my agents!
[quote]Since agents are only allowed to charge you 10% per cent of your pay, most agents focus on their very few "money makers." You need to get most of your auditions and work yourself. Keep in mind that lesser agents don't have much clout too.
So why bother getting an agent if you have to get most of your auditions and work yourself?
Also, are agents allowed to still get 10% for a job that you got yourself?
R4, Having an agent is a sign of legitimacy or professionalism as an actor. When you audition, casting directors will ask you to name your agent. They prefer to contact you through your agent, and for them to negotiate your contract. If you give your agent 10% of jobs you get yourself, he/she may be willing to work harder for you.
Now you know why many actors try to take "short cuts," in this "who you know" profession. Others hand out expensive gifts and trips to "the right people."
R5 But do you have to give your agent 10% of a job you got yourself? And how long do you have to sign with an agent for? Can you drop them anytime if you don't think they're doing anything for you?
Most agents allow you to drop them after say 1 month, if they don't get you any work. Better to have a useless agent than none, for legitimacy alone. Many fellow actors did not give 10% of their jobs they got themselves to their agents. It depends on your relationship with your agent and what your contract demands.
Warning, being a top negotiator and diplomat (and ultra charming manipulator) will get you much farther than being an excellent actor.
I actually did go down on my agent after he signed me. He was a hot Daddy type and I would have done him no matter what his job was. I stayed with him for about five years. He got me some regional work and a National Tour. I finally left the business for a normal life wher I didn't have to leave NYC every 6 months. I continued servicing his big Daddy cock on and off he whole time he replied me.
How do actors get jobs on their own without the agent setting up the auditions?
I went to a highly respected drama school. I had an agent before I graduated. At schools like that, agents comb through all the actors to find people.
And as far as commission goes, yes, of course, your agent is always entitled to 10% of every job. And an agent is involved in getting every job. In California, it's state law. Only an agent can negotiate a deal. So, even if you somehow got the job yourself, the agent still has to negotiate the terms of the contract.
I've gotten one job in my career without much assistance from my agent. A friend had written a script and was doing it under a SAG low budget agreement. He called me up and offered me the job. I called up my agent and he did the deal and that was that. And yes, my agent got 10% of the few hundred dollars that job paid.
Is it true that you have to have over 5 lines in a production in order to qualify for a SAG card? After you're in SAG, you can never be paid below scale, right?
R11, I think what you're referring to is a type of soap opera role called an 'under 5.' It was part of the AFTRA contract. But it was still a union role... just paid much less than a regular role.
In SAG, or in AFTRA prime time contracts, as far as I know, there was no such thing.
And once you join SAGAFTRA, as it now is called, you can never be paid below scale because you are never to do non-union work. And all union work pays at least scale. But there are many different types of scale...
Don't forget the massive amount of work that pays some variation of scale plus 10. The 10 is for the agent.
R11, There are many ways to get your SAG card, such as getting 3 days as a union extra. Of course current union members are supposed to get priority on union jobs. It is possible to be upgraded to a SAG day player, for principle work.
R9, Personal contacts is the main way actors get auditions. Some do mass visits or emails to productions that might be hiring. Of course most are not even opened. Others perform in plays or do live comedy shows to get noticed. There are lots of very creative ways to get your name and face "out there," to be noticed. I used to listen to a well-known casting director give the standard, canned speech expressing the "normal ways" actors try and get work. Luckily I knew someone who knew her personally, and found out the real truth. She helped William Shatner, A. Martinez, and a few TV actresses too.
[quote]And an agent is involved in getting every job. In California, it's state law.
Really? I negotiated myself a contract or two when I was in between agents. Never had a problem.
Slight correction: a lawyer can also negotiate a contract for an actor in the state of California. A manager, however, may not.
I've never heard of an actor negotiating their own deal for a legit union job in the state of California, R15.
I have 9 inches and am thick. Gave it hard to an agent I learned about from a friend. Today he gets me steady work on commercials and as an extra and small speaking parts. I do regional theater and have a good, steady career.
I have not fucked my agent in years--that ended a long time ago. However, I still put out. And so do a LOT of other actors I have met.
So despite being a prolific cocksucker, Colton Haynes will never happen because he has a lousy agent? Wow.
R18 His agent (Eric Podwall) also represents: Chace Crawford, Matthew Morrison, Brody Jenner, JC Chasez, Shawn Pyfrom & Joseph Mazzello (possibly more)
Can actors get their friends parts on their show? I ask because I have a facebook friend who seems to be friends with a guy on TV. The other guy as an actor too but the famous friend never seems to give him a job.
R20, I can get my friends an audition but I can't get them the job.
R20, How much clout and pull does the friend really have, and does the 2nd person have "a good and desirable look?"
Is it true some movie and TV casting directors won't give you work unless you kickback?
Kickback, R23? What does that mean?
If you're talking about sexual harassment, or promising a job in exchange for sex? No. It almost never happens. Casting directors work for big corporations, with very deep pockets. I'm sure it happens on the fringes of the business, but not with real casting directors who are casting real television series and movies.
Lots of misinformstion on this thread.
Getting a good agent in nyc or la is only easy .if you have smething they. Can sell. It helps if casting directors already know yoiu or if yoiu went to a great school or are physically easy to cast.
No legit agent submits clients for extra or background work.
No. Legit casting fdirector takes kick backs.
Series regulars can help friends get cast but only if it makes sense. It isnt something thst is automatic.
Getting auditions fir even very small parts is HIGHLY competitive. Casting directors are very selective about who they present to clients. They have to have a "reason" to bring you in.
There are many parasites that pose as legit agents and casting people to scam money
r25 is going to set us straight with that 'oh, dear' reply. lmfao!!!
R25, There are many SAG franchised agents that are willing to take on inexperienced actors, to expand their rosters. That doesn't mean they'll do much to push you for auditions. SAG approved agencies submit for SAG background and print jobs. Some have non-union divisions and will help a highly desired type get the 3 days of SAG extra work necessary to qualify for buying a SAG card. Very lucky types get day-player or principal upgrades.
Lots of high-powered casting directors have been given money, presents, and sex from "friends" in exchange for work. Others have brought "acquaintances" to parties where they meet directors currently looking for talent.
R25 with a few more thoughts
An agent might accept sexual favors if they are skeevey but if they are legit they wont push you unless you are really worth it.
There are some legit classes taught by real casting directors but busy casting directors dont often have time for it.
More seedy porn type stories, please.
I think you are confusing extras casting services with agents. Agents dont represent actors for background work.
Why sleep with a casting director when you can sleep with the director or producer? Of course, this mainly applies to those who have cunningly networked in Hollywood from a fairly young age.
I remember posting about this on another thread. I have a person I know who'll be set for life. This person is friends with everyone who matters. While the person is an okay actor, they are ONLY succeeding because of the friendships and "friendships" (including sex or prestige or whatever) they established.
As R1/5, mentioned it's a charming manipulation thing. That's probably some of the best acting most actors will ever do, onscreen or off. It would be funny if they created an official awards ceremony for it.
R29, A fellow actor once asked if I'd gotten principal day player (with residuals) on "General Hospital" "on my knees?" I responded that "being female I was the wrong sex for that." A cute, wealthy, young Beverly Hills friend, who looked like he just stepped off a yacht, was offered a contract on the same soap. He had no interest on getting "on his knees." Eventually the same casting director lost his job. However he was able to hire many wealthy-looking studs.
The K. Callan books are quite good.
She explains types and levels of agents and how and WHY to get one. It takes a lot of research to find the right agent who might take you and bother to push you.
I used this book many years ago and freelanced with three agents. I knew in the first month who I wanted to sign with and luckily it was mutual. Still with them.
Now that I am "known" i probably "get" 3/4 of my work myself i.e. I ASK the agent to submit me and I book the job, or a director asks for me. I still need the agent to negotiate the contract.
One Less Bitter Actor: The Actor's Survival Guide
r20 here....The actor is the lead on the show so I guess he'd have some power on the show. Granted I don't know if the friend is a good actor. as to what r22 asked...does he have a good and desirable look? Ha ha to me he does...he posts a lot of pool party pics in which he has a better body than the "star." (but it isn't really a glamourous show...they kind of cast regular types of people from what i've seen.
"Good and desirable look" for a show is not always "the best body." I've seen insecure stars block more talented actors, as well as those who are better looking, and even some who even have the same color of hair. Perhaps they need minority actors to fill small roles, to try and broaden a show's appeal to a specific demographic. Yes, racism is the norm.
I am an agent at a large bi-coastal agency representing stars, well known clients and developmental clients.
Because the pop cultural information bank is shaped and driven almost entirely by publicists the publics perceptions of everything from what success means for an actor to how it happens is guided by fantasy.
The fantasies that magazines rely on to sell advertising space.
The mechanics of how a career happens and how people really get work would shock most people either because it is completely boring and routine but mostly because it is the way people are hired in any other business. A combination of who you know and what you can do in various ratios.
First of all GETTING A GOOD AGENT BIG OR SMALL TO SIGN YOU AS AN UNKNOWN UNPROVEN ACTOR IS NOT ONLY DIFFICULT IT IS [PERCENTAGE WISE] VERY UNLIKELY to happen unless you have something we feel we can market immediately and get results quickly on. That can be a look, talent, a famous sibling mother father etc.
What can we push you on? Keeping in mind you are an extension of my office, I wouldn't send you out unless I had a reason that makes sense to casting to bring you in.
I would never have sex with a client. This is much rarer than you think. But it does happen. I worked at a mid size in the late 80's and one of the female agents was actually banging male clients in her offcie. She was an ok agent but her reputation got around and eventually she was fired from that office and couldn't get another job as an agent. She did become a manager but it damaged her reputation.
Actors come to us in a variety of ways, usually from smaller agencies who have put the developmental work into them but are unable to take them to the next level. Any agent in my office who the partners knew made advances on a client would be marked for termination. Ultimately they would be fired if it was perceived as a pattern.
Actors are more likely to "date" producers and directors as a somewhat more respectable form of the casting couch.
Casting directors are very powerful in our business. Real casting directors don't have time interest or inclination to take kickbacks etc. that is all bullshit.
There are plenty of people who call themselves castign director and agents who are just scam artists.
No agency adds unknowns to the roster just to "build the roster" that is absurd. Agencies don't want a bloated list. It isn't about numbers of clients its revnue from the clients that counts.
Large agencies are run on a corporate model. Same ugly shit happens at any corporation.
People alwasy ask me about "the business" I am talking friends and family now and then proceed to argue with me about what I tell them because they read in PEOPLE or heard something different.
At a wedding recently a cousin told me "I wasn't much of an agent" because I didn't know a certain actor got 4.5 million for a series deal. She had read about it in the gossip columns.
Of course I know how much the actor made on the deal because I was ON the deal and it was nowhere near that amount.
Also, the one or two line co-star on a series could be a seasoned award winning stage actor or someone's daughter.
The right famous last name flings doors open quicker than a nice pair of tits or a big dick.
No shade on them cuz they are nice girls but Meryl Streeps kids fit that catagory. People tripping over themselves to hire them and they couldn't get in any door without their lineage.
One of many such examples.
Getting ANY agent to sign you
r41 sorry I hit send too soon.
Was just going to sign off saying getting any real agent to sign you is not easy.
The K. Callan books are actually very good and explain the basic process well but might be alittle out dated unless she updated them.
One less Bitter Actor is ok but I think it is more of a memoir and ironically kind of a bitter memoir. I wouldn't suggest it to young actors as a guideline. There is another side to the way he portrays agents in that book.
I only know one actor who's used his pull to get friends acting roles - David Tennant (I was going to write 'an A list TV and theatre actor in Britain' but then I figured there's no reason to not name him). He used to suggest actor friends all the time when he was on Doctor Who, but they very rarely resulted in those friends getting roles or even auditions. A couple of times it did, but those friends still had to audition.
A couple of years ago he (and his co-star Catherine Tate) exec produced and were investors in a West End production of Much Ado About Nothing, and he cast his best friend in one of the supporting roles. He was able to do that, first because it was 'their' production and they more or less called all the shots (the only reason the production happened at all is because they approached one of the really big theatre production companies and said, 'we want to do this, and this is how') - they chose the director and oversaw the casting. Second, the best friend is an accomplished and quite well known actor and theatre actor in his own right. Tennant is preparing to play Richard II at the Royal Shakespeare Company right now and was allowed to pick who he wanted to play Bolingbroke - though of course (RSC AD) Doran had final say.
I know this is in the UK and the UK industry very different from the US, just one example of how this situation can work. Point being even someone like Tennant can't just demand a friend gets cast. Maybe if you're a super A Lister in Hollywood and you threaten to walk over it, but generally all you can do is make suggestions.
R41, It was extremely easy for me to get SAG franchised agents in LA, especially once I got my first principal role, so I was basing my answer on that fact. I watched other very charming but persistent actors creatively market themselves, depending on their type, to get roles. I know of plenty of true casting couch stories from close friends. I would advise OP to consider working in a smaller market to build up an acting resume of principal credits.
Don a Jamaican accent and pretend to be your own agent. At worst it will get you a spot in a Superbowl commercial.
Principal credits? What the fuck is that? I'm an actor in LA and I have no idea what that is.
At the last SAGAFTRA meeting in New York, a member said he would give the name of two casting people accepting money for jobs to the president of the local when the meeting was over. Didn't say if this was for background work.
R46, "Principal" is short-hand for SAG day player rate, or "5&Under," meaning not "SAG extra/background" or a non-speaking role. You would have a IMBD credit as well.
Is that soap opera stuff, R48? 'Cuz under 5 is only from soap opera contracts.
And it's IMDB, not IMBD. And the union has nothing to do with IMDB. Amazon owns IMDB.
[["It was extremely easy for me to get SAG franchised agents in LA, especially once I got my first principal role, so I was basing my answer on that fact. I watched other very charming but persistent actors creatively market themselves, depending on their type, to get roles. I know of plenty of true casting couch stories from close friends. I would advise OP to consider working in a smaller market to build up an acting resume of principal credits."]]
r41,r42 here responding.
If you have decent credits, getting an agent in LA to represent you is much easier than someone who has never worked.
Your advice of building an "acting resume of principal credits" in a "smaller market" leads me to suspect you are putting it on a bit.
What smaller market will allow you to rack up decent co-star, guest star, recurring parts? Only LA and NYC afford the opportunity to build that kind of resume.
You write that it was "easy for you to get SAG franchised agents in LA" with one "principal" role on your resume.
First of all, how many "SAG Franchised agents" did you sign exclusive management contracts with? I mean, come on.
Also, SAG is now SAG-AFTRA and you might be interested to know that the franchise status of many of the biggest agencies in the business, CAA, WME, UTA, Gersh etc., all function with a ATA/NATR Non-Franchised Agents agreement with clients for reasons too boring to list here.
Several agents have accepted the franchise agreement but most haven't and none of the big players have.
It is kind of hard to believe a working actor in LA or NY is unfamiliar with the fact that SAG no longer exists and is now SAG AFTRA and who throws around terms that don't apply.
I surely wouldn't call myself an actress, but when I was 20, I was offered a part in a made for TV movie starring Tom Selleck and Donna Mills called Superdome by a producer who saw me on my real job. I was hooked up with an agent, got my SAG card and voila! I continued to act in small films and TV stuff filmed in New Orleans for the next 10 -12 years. So for me, it was right place, right time.
I had absolutely no delusions about moving to LA and pursing it as a career.
I got some good auditions through a casting director I knew through a friend, also an actor. Both women thought I was a good actor and the casting director stuck her neck out for me. I can't remember if she had anything to do with this one, but a manager on the way out hit on me big time at his home office - in his basement. "Are we on the same page here?" He was married, a mid 50's alcoholic and had a new baby. He was once an agent but got booted out because he liked young guys and word got around. Management is less regulated and it was all that was left for him. I later met him at a tavern - once - to "talk about my career". I left him that night in a parking garage, feeling himself up through his pockets. I checked with some successful actor friends and he had a rep. I never understood his approach; he would have to aggressively work to get me a meeting for a good part and THEN he could give me head.
Love all the info from everyone
Have you realized that you're probably too good for the entertainment industry yet, OP?
What about commercial agents? There are a lot of plain people doing commercials. How do they get agents?
let's all tweet "you are a homo" to Al
After I got my SAG card and agent, I did more commercial work than film/TV work. While not as prestigious or glam, that was where I made some decent money.
I did cartwheels in a Downey fabric softener ad and ended up making close to 60K. I am well aware that that's small potatoes, but it was more than I got for kissing Tom Selleck on the lips!!
oops wrong thread
R41 When People reports that someone has signed a deal for a TV show at whatever amount they are referring to the possibility that the contract will run the full term (i.e., $50K pilot + 25K/ep +5%/yr x7). I am sure you are all "no way that POS gets a p/u much less a back 9 p/u bla, bla, bla". But $4.5M is how the actor's PR sees it.
I'm not an actor and even I am finding this a very informative thread, esp. the poster at r41 ! Thank you, r41!
so 10% to agent 5% to manager...how much for the lawyer?
R50, I should have proofread my post before typing IMDB and making a silly typo; sometimes I'm in a hurry. I'm a current member of SAG-AFTRA. Would you like me to send you a list of the free movies I received earlier this year as a result? To clarify it was initially easy for me to get franchised agents, obviously one at a time, in LA. However that doesn't mean you can rely on anyone but yourself to get work, until you're more established. Some actors have found that going to a smaller market to get a few credits or day player roles, helps build their resume, to enhance their appeal to agents in LA or NY. Obviously they wouldn't be getting anything major unless they lived in a larger market.
r59, this is r41/r50 replying.
Yes, the point I was unclear in making was how often I am confronted by people with absolutes about the business that they have read in the media.
My large extended family lives in the South and has literally no idea what I do. They know I am an agent but no matter how gently or repeatedly I try to explain what that is, they don't get it.
Recently a relative called me with a "tip" that she was giving me "for free" because "we are blood" and "go back"
Seems her favorite actor on Young and The Restless had given an interview in which she expressed his desire to do primetime and features. She told me I better "snatch him up for agenting" because he is "more handsome that Tom Cruise" and "a better actor than Brad Pitt"
People assume because you are on television in any manner, the world is your oyster. Not so. This actor would have to really push and fight to get auditions for even very very small film roles.
One of the things people have a hard time understanding is how difficult it is for actors to get appointments. You can't waltz off a soap and be expected to be considered for stardom in features or primetime.
People make leaps in the business everyday but it isn't ispo facto.
r62 every paid up member gets the SAG awards DVDs. And the truth is at ANY level of the business you rely on yourself to get yourself work. People who think "I have a big agent now I don't have to do anything" are not positioned for long term.
interesting. I have a question. Why is it so hard to get auditions for movie and tv parts after you have been on TV even in commericals say. I would think if people know your face and you are right for a part they would call you to audtion or just give it to you.
For example, if I am a handsome 25 year old actor why couldn't I just automatically audition for all the handsome 25 year old actor parts?
Because there are hundreds if not thousands of handsome 25 year old actors just like you, R65. Producers and directors don't want to spend days and days auditioning every single possible actor.
R63, R66, I am curious about the reasons YOU would give for less than handsome and talented actors (Franco) getting starring roles, when there are so many choices. Why not pick a lesser
known actor, pay him SAG minimum, and use the money saved for a massive publicity campaign for name recognition? Does Franco actually open movies? Most regular movie goers like the genre (action, rom-com, comedy) or "the look/special effects" rather than the actors cast. Like how were the Twi-hard actors chosen?
Well, first, R67, Franco IS an Academy Award nominated actor. In the right role, he's amazingly good. And the first choices for the role in Oz were Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp. Franco was probably a lot cheaper than either of them.
As to your larger question, producers believe that stars open movies. The evidence isn't solid on that issue, but the belief is still there. Producers look to a flop like Disney's 'John Carter' where Taylor Kitsch, definitely NOT a bankable star, earned next to nothing and Disney spent a fortune on publicity as proof that you need bankable stars.
And the 'Twilight' movies were pre-sold by the books. It didn't matter whom you cast in those roles.
Stars also can generate publicity...they can do talk shows/ magazine covers etc.
He posted in the Glory Hole section of Craigslist.
I'm a successful actor. I wrote to managers when I was in college. A few responded and I signed with one of them. That manager introduced me to my first agent. Managers get 10% ,not 5%. Business managers who handle your money get 5%. You don't need an agent to sign a contract. him Borestelmann has appeared on Broadway in every season the last 16 seasons. He has never had an agent. You do need an agent to get film and TV work. When I was a series regular, however, I did get a friend a recurring role on another series on that lot. Any other questions?
Do you believe in casting agent workshops r72....or are they considered just for losers/suckers?
I've never done it, r73 but if you're good, I would assume they'll notice. Better than doing nothing,
It makes a casting director seem weak when they offer these stupid workshops. Come play money to have me notice you! Scam.
I want more sex stories!
[quote]I want more sex stories!
Here you go: a lot of people in entertainment fuck each other. It's most often among performers, producers, and directors. Which sex acts? All of them!
That's about as specific as the truth is going to get on here.
This is a question for those already in the business.
There has been a lot of talk on DL about Anne Hathaway's career. I'm not necessarily interested in her specifically, but I'm using her as example because she's in the unusual position of being at the top of her game but also intensly disliked.
Yes she can act and she has a bunch of awards to prove it, but the public have really turned on her. A lot of armchair experts have predicted she's in big trouble career wise because she's so unlikeable. What's your opinion on it? Can being this unpopular, despite having received a lot of praise and a bunch of awards, effect the career of an actor or actress?
Tom Cruise has never received the accolades Anne has but he had a similar experience a few years ago when the public turned on him in droves. Yet he still seems to get a lot of work and although he's no longer box office gold, his movies still turn a profit.
So when casting someone would Anne still be at the top of the list?
[quote]Any other questions?
Yes R72. Does your name rhyme with Cycle T. Mice?
R78, Be prepared for a PR makeover and Anne's name associated with a needy but popular charity or cause.
When I was an actor in my 20's, I did a few workshops and unexpectedly got called in for some good, small, but well-written movie and television parts as a result. I was a pretty low key actor, good for television, and not as hyper as my peers. A caveat - I was amazed at the mental cases, schizos, sad sacks, sluts, dweebs and straight up hostile, desperate basket cases surrounding me at these casting seminars. Not too many beauties, either. They were irritating experiences. I kept my head down and considered it a dumb, paid audition, but did my best. I wouldn't go back more than once, just find someone who cast projects I respected, and went, but only once. Most casting directors hold little hope to find anyone sane, let alone talented, at these seminars, and do it for the extra money.
Casting directors should realize these paid seminars make them look like assholes.
r41, r50 and r63 replying.
To the poster who asked why actors he/she thinks are unworthy get work. The answer is basically taste is subjective and the casting or lead roles in features by unknown actors is done rarely because of the huge gamble it is. First of all, unless a big director is taking responsiblity for an unknown in a lead role it makes no business sense to hire someone unknown because they are inexpensive. Producers don't like to feel cheap even when they are cheap. There is also the trickle down phenomena if it goes wrong. Careers can be broken over a bad decision and few people trust themselves enough to go that far out on a limb.
The pool of "unknown" talent is so large it is like trying to find the right fish in an ocean that is why it is difficult to get appointments.
Most actors are not represented. The ones who are are [depending on the age and type] are all vying for a limited amount of appointments. The size and influence of the agent and or manager and any other connections play heavily into a persons chances for getting seen or for booking a job.
That is for developmental clients.
For established stars or people who were once stars a strategy is also important but there are different hurdles.
Dave Franco for example works to the extent he does because casting directors were willing to bring him in because he is James Franco's brother. Mamie and Grace Gummer have booked every job they have had because Meryl Streep is their mother. Niether girl would probably have gotten an agent of any size without that connection. This is not a reflection on any of these people's ability just looking at the facts on paper the only thing they have is the family connection that sets them apart from the crowd.
I only know of one siginificant casting director that gives OCCASIONAL seminars the rest are assitants or people who were low level, not decision makers.
Real casting people don't have the time or the need to do those seminars for the most part. As I say, one I know of in NYC gives them periodically because he enjoys teaching but most are just assistants or lower.
Just as a parting thought, people ALWAYS complain about the current actor in favor as unworthy, ugly or untalented. This happened iwth Brando to present day
Good Heavens, r83, then why should anyone even attempt a career in acting if it is that difficult to get a foothold in the biz?
That doesn't really make sense since I see a lot of unknown actors cast in very good or big movies.
And that certainly doesn't explain the careers of Jennifer Lawrence or Jessica Chastain. Both were complete unknowns a few years ago. Jessica was cast in just about every movie last year and Jennifer came out of nowhere to get an Oscar nom for Winter's Bone.
r83 here just a few quick thoughts:
r85 you have to understand that what the public means by "unknown" and what the business considers "unknown" are two very different things.
This speaks to what I was talking about with the "people magazine" understanding of the business.
Jessica Chastain was not unknown in terms of the business. She graduated from Julliard in the early 2000s, had an agent and a deal with the creator of ER rather quickly out of school. Al Pacino did a play with her and was impressed and talked to people about her and that made a huge difference. People in the business, casting directors knew who Jessica Chastain was long before the public saw here, just as an example of what I am talking about.
Several actors fit this proflle, unknown to the public but the business has paid attention to whatever degree.
r83, the people who choose a major market career as an actor are definitely a different breed.
hope that answers some of the questions but I have to run.
Many adult actors are former child actors. It's an "insider's world" of preadolescent sex, pimp parents supplying pills, creepy pedophile producers and managers, and so forth. This is the reason many deactivate publicly - they've addicts from a young age, they've been molested, nobody cares about them and they know it.
Nepotism and family connections - which explains the talentless and bizarrely arrogant Jonah Hill - are largely the reasons Hollywood talent has NEVER been less interesting or worthwhile than it is now.
As far as the presumed 'un-likability' of Anne Hathaway...
I think much of this is overstated. Similar to the way that viewers of Fox news were shocked that Obama beat Romney, there is an echo-chamber effect going on in social media that is probably not shared in the world outside those media. I mean she did win the Academy Award -- a feat that's not easy if you're so hated in this industry.
And yes, getting cast in anything is hard and something of a miracle. That said, I would not waste money on 'casting director seminars.' I would do theater in LA or NYC and invite casting directors. They will show up or at least send an assistant. And obviously, if you can, go to Juilliard or Yale or NYU. I went to Yale and had an agent before I graduated.
I bent over to tie my shoe in front of ICM's offices.
It's all about who you know so schmooze and kiss a lot of ass. Talent has little to do with success as an actor.
This is a depressing thread, to be honest. I am glad I am not an actor. Sad, but true. I think actors earn every penny and then some.
[quote]I think actors earn every penny and then some.
Oh, look! Datalounge's first real visit from a famous actor!
No, honey. Many people put in the most difficult effort required to be an actor and struggle and wait for years, and then don't end up with very much money, if any. Did they earn it? Because they didn't get it.
Breaking through and, in some cases, getting handed parts to look at and getting to a place of being VERY well-compensated is not so much earned from the work. Let's be realistic. Actors are paid incidentally, with regard to lifestyle and the industry that happens to pertain to them. Meaning, they have to have enough money to maintain a higher level of prestige and thus marketability, as well as to cover various things associated with having high visibility.
[quote]Casting directors should realize these paid seminars make them look like assholes.
I agree. They're about as helpful as those "model searches" where people pay a fee to be seen (and rejected) by modeling "scouts".
I can't believe people are dumb enough to sign up and pay for these seminars.
[quote]To the poster who asked why actors he/she thinks are unworthy get work. The answer is basically taste is subjective and the casting or lead roles in features by unknown actors is done rarely because of the huge gamble it is. First of all, unless a big director is taking responsiblity for an unknown in a lead role it makes no business sense to hire someone unknown because they are inexpensive. Producers don't like to feel cheap even when they are cheap. There is also the trickle down phenomena if it goes wrong. Careers can be broken over a bad decision and few people trust themselves enough to go that far out on a limb.
Then I'm confused on why it's a risk to cast an unknown actor. If it's because an actor isn't known by the public, than is it considered a financial risk, as in, people won't go see the movie unless it has a star attached? Or are we talking about an unknown actor who Hollywood isn't familiar with? What kind of risk is involved there? If the actor went through a bunch of auditions and did well, than what is the risk?
Dave Franco and Streep's daughters seem like weird examples. I barely know anything they've ever been in. I guess their names get them through the door, but just barely.
r92, shut up. For all the BS they go through, they earn whatever they get whenever they get it. Stop trying to make my post something it isn't. You sound like an asshole.
And you sound like the Justin Bieber of actors, R95: completely ignorant and so far gone into the black hole of assholes that you can't correctly identify one.
I've been to a few casting director workshops (in England) that were pretty good - one with the head of casting for the Globe Theatre which did result in an audition.
On the other hand, I read on Facebook the other day that someone I know who calls himself a casting director is running a workshop/QA session soon, through a really big company - he decided to become a casting director last year, and apart from self-made projects he shoots in his house with his partner, he's only cast one thing which was a low budget indie and I know they were very unimpressed with him. Basically anyone can call themselves a casting director even if they have zero credentials and experience. He's a really nice guy, but he knows about as much about casting as my grandmother.
r95 you are right, this other poster is hearing what he wants to hear. Odd.
AnnE isn't hated in the industry, R88. She's hated by the common man on the street. Like GOOP.
Casting a project is a great deal more about business politics and connections than about finding the perfect guy or gal for the job.
Let's say, the lead in a project gets cast. The talent agent negotiates the contract and also insists that other clients of his (or the talent agency he or she represets) get not just to audition but will get picked over other more suitable for the job actors from a different talent agency. Of course that is usually for glorified cameo roles who have maybe five scenes or less.
omg r88 is M! Hail M! We love you M!
What is the background of casting directors? In NY vs. LA. Did most NY ones start as actors?
Isn't the percentage of actors that actually earn a living by acting alone like are really pitiful percent?
The majority of SAG-AFTRA members don't earn enough to qualify for medical benefits.
Yes, the best way to find work is to lay down the law for your bosses on what makes them professional or not, what the laws are (even if you don't know them), and how the "industry" works, because, as you know, everyone has to answer to strangers before they can participate in our free enterprise system.
Just like you can't hire anyone without the approval of the career experts on the network television news.
The average SAG member earns around $7k a year.
You can do nonunion work if you go "fi-core," or "financial core." You acn't give priority to union members for union jobs as that's a "closed shop."
What's most amusing is the people who talk abotu what is professional and legitimate in an industry that runs on drug-dealing, sex-trafficking, and corruption to the core.
r106, I don't have the exact statistics but I am sure the MAJORITY of people who have sag/aftra cards don't earn anywhere near 7000 a year.
Lots of people join SAG [now SAG AFTRA] doing extra work or a single small job and never ever work again on another Sag-Aftra contract.
Lots of aspiring actors simply buy there way into the union. Many of the aspiring actors with SAG-AFTRA cards have just paid the 1000 bucks or whatever and joined.
There are plenty of aspiring actors who just go to classes, don't have agents and have joined the unions thinking it makes them professional.
this is r41, r50,r63, r83 and r86 replying:
[[Dave Franco and Streep's daughters seem like weird examples. I barely know anything they've ever been in. I guess their names get them through the door, but just barely.]]
All I can tell you is from the business perspective the Gummer girls have done very well. Just to remake the point I have been trying to make here: Just because YOU haven't heard of them or know what they don'e doesn't mean the business views them in that way at all.
Meryl's eldest daughter has had some choice theater jobs in NYC has done some featured parts in films and had a starring role in a series. Granted none of these things made a huge impact but she has done very, very well in her career by any standards.
The truth is there are many, many actresses her age and type who are better looking and more talented who can't even get an agent. Because they have no connections to get them in the door of an agents office.
These girls have been given jobs they wouldn't have been submitted for let alone seen for or let alone booked if they hadn't had Meryl as a mother.
Also the poster who indicated a 5 scene part in a feature film is a "small role" or a cameo, they should understand that doulc be a very significant suppporting part and actors have won oscars for far less screen time.
Also to the question of why it is so risky to hire unknowns even if they audition well.
First of all they don't usually audition well. People imagine in their hubris and envy that they could waltz in and do an actors job without any trouble.
These people have never been through the audition processs or the reality of being on a set and imagine it is much easier than it is.
Pressures of cameras people running around being "there" on "action" all of these things come only with miles in the saddle and giving a lead role to an unknown with no experience is a big risk.
It also costs a huge amount more on the back office to promote and sell an unknown.
I am sure much of the contempt for actors would be relieved if people could experience what it is actually like to be on a set or a Broadway stage. It is very intimidating and there is lots of technique that you can't learn overnight.
Most of all it is $$$$$ and accountability and saving your own ass if it flops.
I guess I never really thought about it but what the agent in these threads is making sense.
I work in marketing and in marketing if you spend too much time at a pharma company they won't consider you for other marketing positions in other industries.
My family says: apply here and there for marketing jobs and don't understand when I tell them I have 5 years at a pharma and nobody will even look at my resume.
I guess all industries have hidden rules like that most people don't know about.
r102, in answer to your question: Many casting directors came to NY or LA to be in the business or to do other things initially.
Casting is one of those things that you get into by being an assistant, doing all the grunt work but you are answering phones, getting to know agents etc. If you are liked, you move up and eventually get your own office or work for a company.
[quote]Lots of aspiring actors simply buy there way into the union. Many of the aspiring actors with SAG-AFTRA cards have just paid the 1000 bucks or whatever and joined.
Huh? You can't buy your way into the union by paying an extra $1,000.
no....you used to be able to just buy into AFTRA since it was an open union. But SAG has always had the work requirements.
you could buy your way into SAG if you were a member of AFTRA or EQUITY and thus you could buy your way into sag in a roundabout way. That is buying into AFTRA then SAG.
Stupid but plenty did it just to feel like a pro.
I don't think you can or could ever buy your way into Actors Equity [stage union] but I could be wrong.
R111, R112, Depending on what city in which you live, and your "type," it may or may not be easy to get the 3 SAG extra vouchers required to qualify for a SAG membership. That enables you to pay a very large initiation fee, annual dues, free screeners of SAG-nominated movies in Jan, and not much else. I once got a Lebanese couple a commercial and their SAG cards, because the city that they lived in did not have SAG members that were Middle-Eastern, and available for the long day of shooting. I have known of many actors that offer free services in exchange for their SAG cards as well.
regarding what r113 said... what people used to do was buy into AFTRA and then pursue extra work on the soap operas. (I did this like 7 years ago when there were still a lot of soaps.)
If you got three days of extra work (non-speaking) you could then join Equity. If you got one line of dialogue on the show (which wasn't uncommon with all the last minute re-writes and stuff they often needed someone to answer the phone or be a nurse or policeman or something and instead of auditioning people for some simple line like "hello" or something they'd just give the line to one of the people who did a lot of extra work and was responsible etc.) you could then join SAG.
I'm not sure how it works nowadays with the merger and the fact that there are so few soaps but if you are trying to get in the union I'd still send in a photo to the soaps and try and get known there. The extra work is often handled by a secretary and not some outside agency. After I'd been there a couple of times I just told the woman what I was trying to do and she wrote my name down and called me in a few weeks later to help me out.
Fun facts: 50% of the members of SAGAFTRA earn ZERO from acting. Nothing.
2/3 of the membership earns less than $1,000.
R116 That's exactly why I don't understand why so many people bother joining. You pay like $4,000 to join and pay yearly membership dues yet you're not getting any work.
Do they join SAG/Aftra to get medical insurance of some type?
I'm not in marketing r109 but I do work in pharma. Why won't other industries consider you because you've been in pharma? I'm my country this wouldn't be a barrier to joining other industries. In fact it might even be highly sought.
[quote]Do they join SAG/Aftra to get medical insurance of some type?
R118, The medical benefits are very good but are only available to those who make enough money acting to qualify. If you have enough profitable years, you will be "vested" and get insurance.
[quote]And the truth is at ANY level of the business you rely on yourself to get yourself work.
So, what do agents really do, then?
To get full benefits, you have to earn $30,000 a year in SAG. (Or $15,000 to get a lower level of benefits with higher premiums.)
How many people earn that much? Very few.
So why do people join SAG? Eh, I'm not really sure. Dues are fairly cheap once you join, so it's not much of a hardship to keep your membership up. You do get some screeners. Other than that? No idea.
As far as what agents do... I totally rely on mine to get me work. I'm not an actor who is all that interested in the business of Hollywood. Few of my friends work in the biz and so I have few connections. If my agents didn't get me auditions or outright offers, I wouldn't work.
What do agents do, then? Mine get me in the room. They have friends and connections and they have good taste. They know what roles I'd be good at and they convince casting directors to see me. They work ridiculously long hours and are well worth the 10% I pay them.
Can people who work in radio or local television join SAG/AFTRA? I thought that radio people could be a part of the union.
Yes, radio announcers are part of SAGAFTRA now.
AFTRA has always represented radio announcers, newscasters, disk jockeys, audio book narrators and recording artists. AFRA began in 1937, added the "T" in 1951.
A great big thank you for the replies to my question regarding AFTRA and voice/radio workers. Would the same income from that work be required to obtain medical insurance? A previous poster said it was $30,000 to qualify for the medical benefits.
Not quite, R127, but close.
Although SAG and AFTRA have merged, forming SAGAFTRA, their health insurance plans are still separate (but will be joined soon.)
The radio announcer's earnings would go toward qualifying for AFTRA insurance. Their qualifications are slightly different: $10,000 over 4 quarters will get you personal, individual health insurance. $30,000 over 4 quarters will get you family coverage.
There is actually an alternate route in SAGPH to health insurance, but you must be 40 years old and have qualified for the health plan for 10 years in the usual way and have made at least $10,900 in the current qualifying year.
True, R129, but that qualifies you only for Plan II benefits, not the richer Plan I benefits.
R41 How can I get to be an agent? I'm an attorney, I'd like to be an agent.
Yes, but it's still a great deal. I've never heard of an industry that offers coverage for workers earning so little. It's one of the reasons to join SAG. However, who knows whether that provision will survive when the new SAG-AFTRA plan is created.
The mail room, R131. Seriously. Or try to be an agent's assistant at a boutique place.
I guess, R132. But how many people can qualify for that? VERY few. Earning over $15,000 a year for 10 years is almost unheard of. Less than 1% of the membership surely.
R1 - no ..more than 10% usually 15-20% actually. AND the casting director auditions and casts,and sends out 'briefs' what they're looking for to specific agents, who then send selected clients who meet the brief for the audition - It is not usual for friends to just send their friends to an 'audition' , mainly done via agents. Join an extras agency and things 'could' go on from there, it does happen. Never pay money up front to join any agent, if they're reputable, they'll only expect you to get headshots done and a Spotlight fee,for actors directory, the bible for all casting directors
Spotlight is the catalog of British actors currently looking for work. Of course, since so many of the principal roles in American-made films and television are now played by English-speaking actors from countries other than the U.S., I suppose it's relevant to this discussion.
Have any of you on this thread seen the wonderful (I think) documentary "That Guy...Who"? I saw it on - Showtime? a few months ago. Came out - 2011? 2012? Profiles 16 character actors (although I would call some of them, "character leads" - Bruce Davison, RObert Joy in the last few years (CSI:NY). VERY revealing luck at the hard realities of show biz. I highly recommend it.
r128, thank you. Do you know how the income requirements will change when SAG and AFTRA merge?
R105 is a casting director. And fyi, you are no one's boss but your assistant.
I ended up getting my agent through a friend who actually is a former child actor. She's well established and while she rarely acts these days she still rakes in money producing and doing a couple of other entertainment related things.
She came in to an (now I know it was shitty) acting class one day as a speaker. She only came cause she is friends with an actress that taught at the same school.
Months later I ended up working on some minor projects she produced. She asked if I had an agent and I said I didn't so she literally walked me straight into her agent's office & he signed me on the spot purely based off the fact that she said I was a solid. Plus, she is one of his longest running clients and biggest money earners.
My agency is NOT an easy agency to get into. There are ways to apply but according to them they rarely ever bring anyone on through submission. They don't have the time. The only reason I got signed was because they physically MET me face to face.
Did I get a lot of work opportunities from them? No, not at first. We'd go through patches where I'd get a lot of auditions then a for few months I wouldn't hear from them at all.
What I learned is, I needed to do things on my own. I go to auditions that I look up and find, I sign up with casting directors and meet with them. I do my research, find out what's casting and use my agent to get breakdowns and, "get me in there." These days I do hear from them more often BUT mostly based upon things that I did on my own.
What do I use my agent for? I use him to get me access to things. I use him to negotiate for me but the most important thing I use him for is information. If I have questions, when I can track him down, he is fantastic at giving me real answers. He has represented a lot a really huge people. He doesn't give me five minute breakdowns of what I need to know. He will literally sit me down for 45 minutes while doing 95 other things and being interrupted by tons of phone calls to give me advice. He has a rep for being an asshole but I love him for it. He does not fuck around and gives it to me straight. He has my back.
I love the poster who said actors have to be "ultra charming manipulators and diplomats". I cast models for years and those who could light up with sociopathic seductive charm, even if only for a few critical seconds, were the most successful. There industry attracts a fair number of puddle-deep scumbags who all have to be wooed for success. I recall a particularly skin crawling male booker who even straight male models would greet like a long lost lover, while sticking their fingers down their throat once out of his sight.
I am the agent who was writing upthread.
[R41], [R50],[R63], [R83] and [R86] are my replies.
r137, that Showtime documentary you cited "the guy who..." is not revelatory of hollywood failure but rather hollywood success.
Those are very successful actors profiled in that piece.
This is the mentality that I have been talking about.
People think that unless you are a famous actor you are not a successful actor. That is simply not true. An actor who WORKS is a successful actor.
I represent famous and non-famous actors and some of the most talented actors I know of [whether I represent them or not] are not household names.
To the point about SAG AFTRA: When I am looking at young potential clients, I could care less whether they are in SAG AFTRA or EQUITY. When you are young, the expectation isn't that you are already in the unions, don't waste your money.
To the poster who is a lawyer and wants to be an agent:
Depending on what kind of law you practice, you could leverage that to an entertainment career. Agents start out as assitants. I started as an asist to a famous agent who taught me everything directly and by osmosis. Go to a midsise, work your way up to agent. Don't start at WME or CAA or ICM, it will take you forever. Also depending on your age, you might want to skip the big places altogether.
At the risk of upsetting people, I have to say I am skeptical about the "working actors" posting on this thread. They read false to me. No agent spends 45 minutes explaining the breakdowns to a client. These posts come off as someone [for whatever reason] posing as a working actor.
I only bother to point it out because there really are young actors reading this thread who would like real advice.
Read the K. Callan books/.
[quote]To the point about SAG AFTRA: When I am looking at young potential clients, I could care less whether they are in SAG AFTRA or EQUITY. When you are young, the expectation isn't that you are already in the unions, don't waste your money.
So what are you looking for? Just people with a good reel in general? How much should someone have on their reel before trying to get an agent?
R141, Thank you for validating my point emphasizing the importance of personality and persuasion in getting work. I have a friend, mid-40's, conservative but generic look, out gay male but appears very Mid-Western "square," that is getting constant print and commercial jobs in a smaller market. He has chosen to stay non-union until he develops his acting reel. Future actors, be very careful what you include on your reel. Make sure it's what is desirable.
Movie producers cast their leads and the agencies of those leads fill the rest of the roles with their lesser clients.
This is how the big agencies make all the money.
Whoever controls the big stars, controls the movie industry.
There is almost never an open casting call for big studio movies.
Soap Stars can't get movies because they can't get good agents. Exception is young/new soap actors leaving the soap for the first time.
Too many of them make the mistake of staying with their crappy soap agents.
You only get ahead by dumping your existing agent for a better agent.
For an agent to get ahead, he has to dump his agency for a better agency. (and take his good clients with him)
[quote]So what are you looking for?
Talent with looks, and drive.
young actors hopefully will have a long career ahead of them that you can ride to the bank.
So you have to start out with a shitty agent at first and then try to get a better one. So what can a shitty agent do for you if they don't have the right contacts?
A shitty agency is the only ones who will take you.
They will send you out on auditions. Soaps, TV, Commercials.
They have no clout to make anything happen for you. You'll have to do that yourself.
If you happen to book a TV show that makes it on the air, you'll be surprised at the phone calls you suddenly get from other better agencies. Often from new agents trying to build a client list.
Thanks agent at r142, etc. You are interesting and valuable.
[[R41]], [[R50]],[[R63]], [[R83]] and [[R86]] and r142 are my replies
thank you r149, I am glad you are finging my ramblings valuable.
r148, there are no "shitty" agencies that can get an unknown client in for pilots, episodics or anything worth doing for that matter. Agencies specialize in different things some agenecies have more developmental clients than others but that doesn't make them "shitty"
An agent who has the attention and repect of casting directors and producers enough to get his/her clients seen is far from "shitty" and you would be fortunate to represented by them.
Please don't fall into the trap of putting down anyone in the business who isn't "huge" many small agencies are viewed with respect in the business. ESPECIALLY small NYC agencies.
Yes, developmental clients who get significant movement are approached by larger agencies, but that only means the smaller agent is doing their job.
r145 is right to the extent that a career at a certain point needs the attention of a larger, international office. When an actor becomes that big they really have to move on but it doesn't mean their first agents were "shitty"
r143, what I am looking for as an agent is someone who will be profitable. Period. I am with a large agency and only take on developmental clients when I think I can make them big quickly. I have people I am following at other agencies, mid-size to small agencies, that I will approach when I think they are ready for the next step.
I am looking for something unique and special that will make long term gains.
r142, just sign your posts "Agent" instead of listing all of your replies.
[quote] No agent spends 45 minutes explaining the breakdowns to a client. [/quote]
Dear R142, it's R140 here. You're really coming off like a prick.
That's not even what I wrote. That is some random ass exaggeration of what I wrote and you seem to have an awful lot of time to just hang around here because I have a hard time believing an agent would hang out on Datalounge all day and respond to and criticize posts.
I rarely talk to him about that kinda stuff. I'd deal with his assistants. Like I said, "when I can" track him down. Why me: I did some work for a friend of his, because I'm not white and they don't have a lot of people of my race working with them and because he says I remind him of himself.
For decades Players' Guide, a 900-page annual directory with photos and credits was used by casting people.
Catergories included Leading Men and Women, Young Leading Women/Ingenues, Young Leading Men/Juveniles, Children Boys/Girls, Character Men/Comedians, Singers, Announcers, Commentators.
Gawd, an interesting thread completely derailed by the specifics of health insurance. Fuckin' DL can never stay on topic, it's so fucking boring.
Well,r154, this is one of the very important things actors and those in the biz have to think about, unless of course YOU want to pay our medical expenses.
It is part of the conversation, and hardly derailed the thread.
Bump...or is that too method?
Flamers need not apply.
If you can't act straight...you can't act.
I had a small role in a local independant film called "Chips".No relation to the series.It was supposed to have been released this month.
R153, I'm behind the times, but i noticed you used the past tense with Players Guide. WHat was succeeded it?
What is a good way to get a commercial agent? Do they actually look at the submissions people send in?