Two Talent Agents’ View

This week, I do not want my blog to be me ranting about the state of the business. I will tell you from a director’s side about how hard it is to deal with the talent agents and listening to their ridiculous excuses on behalf of actors not being professional. There has been a change in responsibility of actors dealing with their chosen profession in a very lay manner.

There are three sides to every story. My company is not overreacting. We are reacting and trying to teach and get things back on track. I think it is important for actors, assistants, casting directors, and other agents to hear some major pet peeves from two top commercial agents that are amazing at their jobs that love and long for the way the business used to be. At the end, we are all saying the same thing, just from a different perspective.

We are all working together to make things better and to be able to call ourselves professionals. Professional seems to be the thing that young actors have not learned, season actors have given up on, and agents’ assistants are not understanding the importance of following through and teaching the actors. I am not sure the assistants get that if they don’t help get actors to auditions, then their agencies cannot book and eventually cannot pay their salaries.

I hope actors and assistants will read and take what these agents are saying and approach things with a different mindset. It is not just about Beth Melsky Casting. This is another attempt at trying to fix a very broken process. What these agents are saying is as correct as what I say. If you take their advice, maybe it will eliminate some of the frustrations of casting. Read and think, please.

Here are some pet peeves from Doug Kesten, talent agent at Paradigm Agency:

  • When actors/actresses don’t provide detailed responses when they decline an audition…an e-mail or voice message saying, “thank you, but I can’t make it” is frustratingly not sufficient. We need to know specifics in case there’s a chance the opportunity can be re-scheduled or if that talent needs to be taken off the active roster for a certain time frame.
  • And similarly, when we call with an audition only to be told, “I was going to let you know…I’m leaving town for a tour…or a play…or a wedding…or a vacation.” Since everyone can e-mail any hour of the day there’s no reason why agents & our assistants should only be hearing about these developments when we call with business.
  • Calling a freelance performer with an audition only to find out he/she has signed elsewhere. Not appreciated or smart…if the exclusive arrangement doesn’t work out, I wouldn’t be inclined to resume providing audition opportunities for that individual…l would with someone who had the courtesy to alert me of his/her decision to stop freelancing as soon as it was made.

Here are some pet peeves from Carole Ingber, talent agent at Ingber and Associates:

  • If an actor is sag eligible, they should check with the union to see if they are an ok 30 or a must join. If they are a must join and do not have the money to pay the initial $1,000 and the remainder over time, they should tell the agent not to send them out until they have the money. It is not the agent’s job to pay for actor’s initiation fees (or their dues).
  • Scheduling: When we first meet potential clients, we tell them to always let us know when their schedules, even if it is 2 months in advance…work schedules, vacation schedules, bookings that aren’t ours. We need to know. If we submit on a job and the actor is not available for the shoot or the callback, we may lose a time for another client who could potentially book it. If the actor has a server job, bartending, etc. and works from 3:00 on, we can mark on the submissions to the casting director what their time problems are so they can either be scheduled or not.
  • If the actor is running late, they need to call their agent, not just show up. We should all be working as a team.
  • We love our clients to check in at least once every 3-4 weeks to say hello so we know they are around and available. Sometimes out of sight is out of mind!
  • When not to call: Do not call everyday to check in or ask about money. Do not call to check in before 10am or after 4:30pm, unless of course it is a confirm.
  • When confirming a callback and first refusal, do not assume the agent knows you are in a show. You need to let the agent know when you need a release in the city. For example, Tuesday show performance is at 7pm so a 6pm release is needed, 8pm show, 7pm release is needed, etc.
Two Talent Agents’ View

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