What does an agent do?
Whether you’re an actor, writer, musician or dancer, an agent is someone who works on your behalf to keep you employed.
Do I need an agent?
The simple answer is this: you don’t NEED an agent, but a good one will make your life easier.
The very best kind of agent will be your manager, lawyer and careers advisor all rolled into one. They’ll give you advice, help shape your career – and sit up all night going through complicated legal contracts so that you don’t have to.
A good agent finds you work, which in a freelance industry can be extremely helpful – it means you won’t be up all night the day before your last performance frantically calling everyone in your contacts book and begging for jobs.
Agents have a network of contacts with producers, directors, casting directors, commissioners and managers. Most high level industry types keep their contact details off the internet (or have a PA to field their calls!) so unless you’re already incredibly well connected, having an agent will give you unprecedented access to the very best filmmakers, theatre directors and casting agents.
What’s the downside?
Your agent is entitled a percentage of the money you earn from every single job you do, regardless of whether they found you the job or you found it yourself. in the UK generally take 10% (so if you earned £500 from a day’s shoot, your agent would take £50 and give you the remaining £450).
If you choose not to work with an agent, you might lose out in terms of access and contacts – but you keep 100% of your fee.
What should I look for in an agent?
A good agent should have a clear understanding of the direction you want your career to go in. If you tell your agent you want to be a respected theatre actor, and they keep putting you up for bit parts in soaps – move on.
Your agent should push you to expend your network by working with all sorts of new and exciting directors, choreographers, and producers – and they shouldn’t be afraid to pull you off a job if they think you’re being badly treated.
How do I find one?
Be proactive! There are hundreds of agents out there, and most of their contact details are online. Pick up the phone, ask who best to approach, and send a polite email introducing yourself.
A word of advice: target the agents you approach. Don’t send your stand up comedy CV to an agent who only represents serious dramatists – you’ll have more luck if you do your research and pick an agent who is interested in your particular talent.
Last but not least, don’t forget MediaVolt! Why not get chatting to other members? They may well be able to recommend a good agent – or even put in a good word for you. To do this log into your accounts and click on a profile to add to your network.