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How To Get An Agent for Acting & Voice Over

How To Get An Agent for Acting & Voice Over
By Kate McClanaghan

 

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Down through the ages, every would-be talent has said to himself at the start (or possibly even somewhere in the middle of his career), “I need an agent.” What often followed was typically a series of humiliations that would have tried the patience of Job and would explain why so many talent pack it in after only a few months and often drift away from their dreams and goals.

Securing proper representation is key to building your career and achieving your goals as a professional talent and all the more reason why I wrote, How To Get An Agent for Acting & Voice Over.  And while it’s important to listen and heed the professional preferences your agent may require of you, it’s important to exercise your own common sense, good judgment, and courteous professional behavior. These skills will serve you far greater than anything else. Ultimately it is your career, therefore it’s imperative you own it and own up to it. You must also run it. Contrary to what you may have dreamed, imagined, assumed, or been told.  

 Considering it’s likely that you’re only just starting out as a talent and may lack the benefits experience brings, or you’re starting over and at a loss as to what may be required of you in the industry today, we offer you the keys to running your career in the following pages.  May you be wiser and better prepared from what you learn in this chapter, and may your career benefit greatly from applying these promotional processes. 

agent

 All of this takes dedication, and some of it may not be what you want to hear or what you might have expected, but if you apply yourself and dutifully follow what you find here, you will have far more control over your destiny than you ever may have imagined.

First of all, to be clear, there are two separate and distinct forms of promotion:

  • ·      One to the various producers and ad agency creatives most likely to hire you as a voice-over
  • ·      And the other to talent agents to secure representation

 But, before we get into detail as to what you need to do, it’s important to define…

 

Why You Need an Agent

There are three primary reasons you need a talent agent:

 a) To offer you greater access to work that best suits you

 b) In order for you to secure acting jobs as well as jobs in voice overs   

 c) And because an effective agent has the experience and ability to determine what the job is worth and acts as an authority on your behalf

 A talent agent determines what a job is worth based on what it will be used for and for how long.

 What an effective talent agent does, whether the project is union or not, is to submit you and determine what the job is worth. This worth is based on what the finished production will be used for (i.e., television, cable, radio, trade show, Internet, voice-over, on-camera, etc.) and how long it’s expected to be used. These are the primary elements that determine the value of the project in relation to the talent’s pay.

You may have imagined the length of the final audio determines the value of the project. And this has honestly never been the case. Especially considering a 30-second national commercial might have a budget that’s typically eight to ten times more than the entire budget designated to produce the half-hour TV show during which the spot is playing. Or you may have thought what you’re paid based on how long it takes for you to do the job. This can be the case, depending on what the job is for, but not always. Again, this is why you need an agent.

The degree of difficulty varies from job to job and talent to talent.  You want an agent who has experience with the sort of projects you’re most likely to land and knows what these jobs typically pay from past experience.

Agents are only human. Therefore, like so many of us, they occasionally say things and offer suggestions on whim, especially when it comes to marketing and promotion.

They truly want to help, and while you may be hanging on their every word of advice and counsel, it’s often subjective. If you asked them about the same random promotional item six to eight months later, you’re likely to hear a dramatically different response.

The agent must service their production clients’ needs in relation to the talent on their roster. They need talent they can rely on before, during, and even after the production. Knowing what industry standards dictate while offering a versatile yet reliable talent pool is how a talent agency makes itself valuable to casting agencies and producers.

 Many regional (smaller-market) talent agents, outside New York and Los Angeles often assume many of the responsibilities typically designated to a manager, such as: offering you career advice, suggesting where to take classes and get your headshots done, or offering you feedback on your demos and on-camera reels when you first sign with them.

 

Your Start Up Business

Let’s assume you’re after what we’re after: to work steadily as a professional talent, earning a decent living while scratching your aesthetic itch. It can be done. People do it every day. However, as with any small business, it helps to be as systematic and as efficient as possible. That’s where SOUND ADVICE comes in.

After all, this is a small start-up business you’re embarking upon here. This business requires attention to detail on many fronts: in your performance, in the production and marketing of your demo, in your pursuit of representation, and so on.

The problem, however, is that far too many people will focus on details that are of no consequence to the overall goal of establishing and maintaining a career in this business. The purpose of this book is to help you maneuver through the industry minefield with greater ease than ever before—even if it may be contrary to popular belief.

If you are, or once were, established in this business, the most recent changes in technology may have left you in the dust. Technology is fully incorporated into our lives, our work, and certainly into the talent industry like no other time in history. These advances continue to occur as they have over the course of a few short years, and they’re not expected to slow down anytime soon.

Even if you have embraced technology fully, you need to know how it applies to this field. It’s a whole other skill set. If you resist change, the future of your career will ultimately fail.

To add to this, many of us have been taught as actors to rely solely on our wits and physical prowess onstage, and the result has been that we forfeit any real advancement of our careers by omitting the most basic computer and self-promotional skills. So what do you need to know to adapt? No short answer, but this is precisely why I wrote How To Get An Agent for Acting & Voice Overand we’ve completely updated The SOUND ADVICE Encyclopedia of Voice-over & the Business of Being a Working Talent.

With any luck, and with some dutiful application, this trusty reference book will help you discover what you have to offer as a talent and how to realize your dreams. As H. G. Wells once said, “Adapt or perish.” Since the latter really doesn’t appeal, we’ll focus on the former.

 

YOUR Job

The fact remains you are expected to arrive fully realized to a talent agent if you expect to work. That is to say, you are expected to be a complete package: your demos must be up to date, your headshots and résumé are of professional caliber and define you well. Don’t leave it to their imagination; they have enough work to do. Demos and headshots promote that you are ready to work and able to deliver. An agent can’t submit you for work, or represent you properly, if these promotional materials are working against you. Your promo is expected to define what it is you do best and what you want more of.

 Beyond that your job is to give your agent solutions rather than problems, especially when it comes to your schedule, how quickly you respond to texts, emails, or calls, and your ability to deliver a consistent, effective performance when called upon at a moment’s notice are key. Continually rescheduling auditions or repeatedly booking out are absolute deal killers. An agent can’t overcome or handle these issues for you.

Your job is to make it easy for those representing and hiring you to do so. It’s just good business.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Kate McClanaghan. All Rights Reserved.

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