Attention all actors seeking representation – When it comes to landing a manager or agent, you must be ready and willing to put in some serious effort!
Managers and agents want to work with talent who fully commit to their work, who treat to acting as a business, and are passionate about building their career. They seek talent who continuously take classes to improve their craft, who pro-actively network and market themselves, and who create their own work in order to stand out from the pack.
Basically, managers and agents want you – to help them help you!
Delving deeper into what it takes to land a manager or agent, NYCastings attended the First Time Fest (FTF), which celebrates first time filmmakers, and spoke with industry gurus: Jae Manion from Collaborative Actors Management, Scott Kaufman from Bohemia Group, and Jon Rubinstein of Authentic Talent and Literary Management.
Q & A about representation
Jae Manion (JM) – Scott Kaufman (SK) – Jon Rubinstein (JR)
Q: What is the difference between a manager and an agent and how do they work together?
JR: Agents and managers work together in that they are both looking to find work for clients. Managers may have a smaller roster and be involved in the creative process versus just submitting their clients for work. It is really a 24/7 job, managing careers for actors.
JM: I have a system where one of the first things I do, after we’ve changed headshots and resumes, is that I have my clients send postcards to agencies. Once I have all of their marketing materials up to date, we try and get them an agent. I have a specific agent I work with, so that helps
SK: I’m going to try and get them into the space that fits what the career plan strategy that we come up with, whether that is TV or an indie film. I help to get them an agent, and create the best team for them.
Q: What does it take to land a manager or agent?
JR: A lot of actors look for representation as if there is a savior out there. They believe that if they have a manager, their life will be complete. And, that isn’t true. I’ve seen extraordinary actors with agents who don’t thrive, and extraordinary actors without agents who do flourish. Simply do what you are wildly passionate aboutand they will come knocking at your door, wildly passionate about representing you.
JM: It’s like dating. It’s that personal. The person you date when you are in rags and the person who you would be able to date when you are well put together – are two different people. It’s the same for agents. You want to wait until you are ready. If you send out a headshot that is you on the beach last summer that your sister snapped, and a resume with two lines on it, that won’t make the best impression. And, we will remember. Wait until you’re more marketable, and really ready for an agent.
SK: Everyone says, I don’t have an agent. How am I supposed to get in the door? Well, you can create your own content for almost not cost. There are so many video and distribution platforms out there. Create your own content, market it, get it on as many social media platforms as possible, get brands to support it. Show it to agents. If you are aggressive smart and business savvy you will be able to get work.
Q: Do actors need a manager or agent?
JR: Do you need a manager and agent? Every single one of my clients has both, and that’s a good thing because an agent does what they do and I do what I do. As a manger, I have responsibilities outside of scouring for roles. If you are a manager who sets themselves up as a secondary agent, then the client isn’t going to need you. The manager really has to add value.
Q: When you do decide to work with a new actor, what are your expectations?
JM: I don’t allow any of my clients to not be in classes. That’s a strict rule. I feel that if you’re not exercising your muscles, those muscles are going to get weak
JR: It’s critical for actors to be proactive and accountable for their results. One of the things we do for new clients is we ask what they want to happen, and then hold them responsible to it. They have to be willing to put in the work. That could mean taking a class. They need to do whatever it is going to take to move them forward. Some people are too skinny and need to put some muscle so they need to go to the gym. Some actors need a haircut. I’ve sent actors to writing classes, or put them into charity work. If you are someone who is continually creating and evolving, you are going to be successful.
Q: Where do managers and agents look to find talent?
JM: At The PIT NYC. Agents hang out there. I spend way too much time there. I believe that comedic actors are stronger. I go to improv sketch shows and standup shows. The best way to get commercial representation is to be in a group that performs regularly.
SK: I go to The PIT, UCB, and comedy clubs. I also watch online content. It’s not a wall that you can’t break through. I’ve had talent that has cold called or emailed, and that works as well.
Q: What are some pros and cons of putting work online / using social media?
JR: Don’t use social media as a sales vehicle. You have to be engaging, and create a two way communication. People try and get their friends to like their pages out of pity and don’t encourage participation by offering actual reasons to follow. Be creative with your strategy. Don’t make it always about you.
SK: You have to put up engaging content that people ate interested on seeing. The issue is that lot of representatives are not going to the theatre as they used to, or comedy clubs, to find talent. So it’s good to get your work out there.
JM: You have to be very careful about the quality of work you put out there. Also, don’t just add every agent and casting director out there as your Facebook friend. I have a girl who posts videos every day, and I wouldn’t sign her. You need to write, edit, and rehearse before putting your work out there. It’s quality not quantity that will get people’s attention.
Q: What does it take to maintain a manager or agent once you are working with one?
JM: All managers and agents will be different, we aren’t computer programs we are people. Pay attention. When we lose interest in you, leave. For me, if I talk to one of my clients and they haven’t been working on anything in a month, that’s going to give me pause. You can’t sign with me and then expect me to do all the work. You have to continue to chase after jobs in the same way you did before me. You have to keep applying online and working hard.
JR: Someone once said to me, I don’t like my agent because they aren’t getting me enough film auditions. And I asked – Well, how are you doing in the film auditions you have gone on? The responsibility does go back to the actor. When you get an audition, do you do the work beforehand? If your agent gets feedback that your work was amazing, they will keep sending you out. If you are putting in an effort and try, sometimes communication can be the problem. Maybe you haven’t spoken with your agent about what you expect.
SK: If you sign with someone and in a month they haven’t gotten you any auditions – don’t run out the door right away. This business is about moving and growing. Don’t worry if your friends are going out all the time, or what they’re doing. Don’t make snap decisions. Also, word gets around and people know about it.