Talent Agent Pet Peeves
by Nick Clayton
The Agent Pet Peeves list is an incredible resource from which to learn prior to meeting a booker for the first time.
Have you ever wondered what makes an agent red in the face? Ever been hurried off the phone with an agent who seems, shall we say "disgruntled" with you, and you have no idea in your head as to why? Chances are, and possibly unbeknownst to you, you've aggravated your agent - something that you do not want to do.
The job of a talent agent is to speak with a photographer, casting director, artistic director, or other client about their project needs and to then secure that person the most perfect talent(s) for their shoot. Also, they need to be able to communicate fluidly with those they represent all information about the project at hand. The role doesn't stop there! It is also critical for the agent to scout and interview other new faces, as they are obligated to continually give their clients fresh options, along with those superior seasoned faces who are known to book jobs. When blockades are thrown up and hinder the divine process, we get very upset!
For talent new to the business, the Agent Pet Peeves list is an incredible resource from which to learn prior to meeting a booker for the first time. For models and actors working currently, see this as a refresher to keep you on the call list, and to keep you booking jobs. Remember, agents choose who is put into a package or who a client "has to see"...
1.) Not Answering Your Phone
Everyone on our side of the business needed everything done on their project a half hour ago. Time is not on our side. That being the case, you can imagine there not being anything that drives us up the wall more quickly than getting a voice mail message when we really need you. Even a quick pick up to say, "I'll call you back in 15 minutes, I'm in a meeting" is a sheer pleasure over having to listen to your Jessica Simpson ringback tone four times, and your greeting where you tell us you are going to "try" to call us back as soon as you're able. Often, we can't move forward with any aspect of a project until we speak to you. Other times, it is doing yourself a major disservice as you can be a top choice for a client, but with no answer and a time crunch on our hands, we are forced to give up your spot.
2.) Calling-out / No Shows
On the day of a casting or a booking, you are expected to be in attendance so that the client is able to do their job. It takes one, perhaps two (if there was a valid reason the first time), talent call-out situations for us to never want to work with that individual again. This is a business, not a hobby. After you have committed yourself to a time slot on a casting call or a booking on a firm job, as a professional talent, THAT is your number one priority. THAT is what you work the rest of your life around. Imagine if you went out on location to shoot your headshots or images for your book and the photographer just didn't show up. Imagine that happening two, or three times. The first may have been an accident that you could understand, but as a client, what does experience number two and three tell you about that person? *NOT RELIABLE* , *NOT PROFESSIONAL*, *NOT TRUSTWORTHY* ... it basically spells out DO.NOT.BOOK. How can we as agents continue to promote someone that the client sees as a waste of time? It makes our agency look like a sham, and diminishes our credibility. Expect any agent in any market to protect their business and not just one person. Always remember, there are at least a dozen more of you who the agent could put in your spot and work just as hard for.
Please read! Please do for yourself! Do not rely on your agent to do work for you, which you are totally capable of doing on your own. This includes, looking up directions, printing scripts, deciding what to wear to a casting when what is wanted is stated in the breakdown, arranging carpools with other actors, getting footage of your booked work. Even if your agent doesn't say no to one of these requests, be well assured that they are bothered by it. The agent job is taxing, and usually keeps us in office much past 5pm. We are working for multiple clients, and trying to handle at least 20 talent at any one given moment.
4.) Not Keeping Materials Updated
We must always have your most current headshot and resume on both hardcopy file and electronic file. If your look changes, you must have new, professional headshots/comp shots taken before we can send you out again. Clients become infuriated with talent who do not look like their photos, and will usually not blink an eye before canceling them. They then turn the anger on the agency.
Also, if a job has been booked and your resume changes, it is important that we have a new copy of the resume, so to give you that extra push toward booking the next job.
5.) Dropping by
The agency is not a place to stop in uninvited. This does not mean that we do not appreciate you, or that we do not want to see you. The office is a place of business and of confidentiality. A stop in distracts the agents from their current tasks and makes them feel like they have an obligation to give the talent time and attention. We may be very kind on the outside, but we are grumbling on the inside. A better option is a check-in via email. Do this on a weekly basis. Attach your headshot and resume and give one or two lines in the body of the email such as, "This is ____name____ and wanted to check in to let you know I am available for any castings or bookings. I completed an independent film project two weeks ago which you are welcome to come see next week at 8pm." You may not get a response to your email, but can have faith in knowing that it was seen and appreciated.
6.) Contacting a Client
This is an enormous "NO, NO". Really something that can put a quick end to your agency relationship. Do not contact any client unless you first phone the agency and get specific approval or unless a phone number has been provided to you on a casting or shoot. You would only then contact the client if you were at a complete loss and could not get in touch with your agent. Lost on your way to a casting/booking or to inform of something such as a car accident which is holding you up - those are examples of worthy reasons. Always first try an agency emergency line.
7.) Calling Office to Check on Payments
In this industry, a non-union client is given up to 90 working days to make payment for a completed job. The talent agency will track the job and only call the client if that number of days has been exceeded. Do not call the agency asking about payment unless those days have passed and it has been categorized as a "past due invoice". Some clients pay more quickly, others have so much production left after the shoot with talent, that they need the entire length of time allotted to make payment. Here at The Diamond Agency, talent are not to trouble their "booking agent" with such matters. In our office, (this does not apply for all agencies) we have a separate accounting department and no agent is involved past the point of submitting the invoice. All billing matter should be addressed to the accounting department.
8.) Not Being Prepared
If you are going into a casting session either with a private client or a casting director it is your job to be prepared for the role. Agents should not be getting notes in their email box asking if the talent needs to be memorized on script (off-book). Yes. The answer is always going to be yes. It is also infuriating when we are putting people on video tape in the office and they come in not ready to act out their parts believably, or are not memorized. It is a complete waste of our valuable time standing there waiting for you to get it right. Especially, because even when you do get the lines out, they are going to sound strained, and the performance will not be realized. No matter if you've had one week or one day to get a part down pat, you need to have it covered. The chances of you booking the role unprepared are slim to none.
9.) Too Good for Class
Actors that feel they don't need additional training, aren't really actors at all. Period.
These points are not meant to offend or to belittle, but to inform and educate. You are in control of your career and how far the path leads.