Today was a very sad day for me; a talent agency called Artists Entertainment closed their doors. They will continue to manage ongoing SAG contract work but will no longer represent talent or work on breakdowns. They were an agency that only did SAG work. They honored their franchise agreement with SAG and followed all the rules. Mary Haggerty, one of the owners, took my place when I left the casting company I worked for to open my own company. She then left there to pursue a career as a talent agent instead of a casting director.
Artists Entertainment is a small agency and always represented actors of quality not quantity. In this day and age, to be a SAG franchised agent, you need to have a huge client list. There are not enough breakdowns and the ones the agents get, they know the casting directors have to see 40-60 people per role. This is where everything falls apart. There’s too much competition for seasoned actors; therefore, those actors’ schedules are hit or miss. Their agents submit them without knowing their schedules, whereabouts, or if they even have interest in going to an audition. The SAG agent world is holding firm but they are at their wits end as to how to solve this problem and with each day there’s more and more non-union work with a good quality acting pool to choose from…and the pay is only getting better. I spoke to five agents and they all said the same thing to me, “what are we supposed to do?” My answer, “I don’t know anymore.”
Today I cast a union/network job, a great job and scheduled 48 actors. I got 23 of them to come in for an audition. The agents cannot keep track of actors because of a lack of work and the actors have become very complaisant about keeping their agents informed about their availability and schedule. It’s like everyone has given up. If we can’t produce great quality casting sessions out of New York, why would anyone bother casting here? When we’re given the chance, it’s hard to make it great under the circumstances. I don’t have the answer, but I do know the problem: union or non-union, this is a professional business. We are all going through huge changes but must change with the times in order to keep things going. Eventually this union/non-union thing will sort itself out. With less network spots and more digital, something has to give. All actors deserve a chance to work.
Everyone has to step up or we are just going to hear about more and more people giving up. Think about it!