10 Ways To Get An Agent

07 Aug 2018, Posted by Nicci in Casting Tips
How Do I Get An Agent | Nicci Topping Casting

How Do I get an Agent is the second question most popular question I get asked after How Do I get My First acting Job?
So besides the obvious of bulk emailing every agent you can find on imdb and sitting back and praying, how do your improve your chances of getting an agent’s attention? And what does the world of representing actors look like from the other side of the table?
To answer all these questions I am publishing a series of blog posts from some of the UK’s leading agents.
Today’s post is Part One in the series and comes from the lovely Beth Jones who runs AL Management… over to you Beth!

How Do I get an Agent?

As an agency, we receive many representation requests and in the midst of hundreds of emails, it’s important to make yours stand out! We’ve put together a list of things to know before applying to an agency…

Have decent headshots

Your headshots are your first introduction to agents and casting directors, so you should invest wisely! Go to a professional headshot photographer who specialises in working with actors. They may cost slightly more than your mum/uncle/cousin’s friend with a Canon 700D in your back yard, but they know exactly what they’re doing, and what will help you get noticed.
Another point to make is that when choosing your headshots, go for the ones that look the most like you, and not the ones you look nicest in (ask your most honest family members and friends to help)! An agent or casting director who calls you in for an audition, wants to see YOU, warts and all. Unfortunately, there is no Valencia filter for real life (although that would be the DREAM!) Avoid wasting everyone’s time and keep those headshots updated, I promise it will help you turn those castings into jobs.

Know your casting type

If you’re 35 years old and you’ve been told you look ten years younger, that’s great! But don’t kid yourself by claiming to have a playing age of 16-40. Work out what roles you’d be applying for (again family and friends are great for this) by assessing your tone of voice, height, look. It’s great to be a versatile chameleon, but don’t try and pretend you’re something you’re not – there will be a place for you as you are in this industry!
Attend classes and workshops – There’s nothing more irritating than an “actor” who applies to us with no experience and no training, with expectations of making it in Hollywood straight away. Like any other occupation, learning your craft is key – you wouldn’t go into hairdressing/medicine/dentistry without any training, and this industry is exactly the same. If drama school isn’t for you, try researching part time courses such as The Actors’ Lab (shameless plug!) or if you can’t commit, try one off workshops.

Get involved

As much as commercial and TV fees are appealing, don’t dismiss theatre work. The Manchester fringe theatre scene is BUZZING at the moment, and as actors or audience members, places like 53two, Hope Mill Theatre, The Kings Arms etc are great for networking. Many of the casting breakdowns for shows such as JB Shorts, Monologue Slam or the GM Fringe Festival are posted on social media and are open to everyone, so follow them all and keep up to date!

Show us your work

Invite us to a play you’re performing in, or invest in getting together a good showreel. No matter how talented or experienced you are, we need to see your work before you sign on the dotted line. This is for both parties’ benefit, as if we take you on our books, we need to have an idea of how you act before submitting you.

Learn a new skill

Chances are, we’ll be receiving many applications from actors just like you. Special skills are one of the best ways to stand out from the others, the more, the better! Although, this leads me to my next point…

Don’t lie on your CV

This is a major no no! You will only embarrass yourself and your agent if you’ve been submitted and called in for a role based on your excellent horse riding skills and you don’t know your trot from your canter.

Do your research

When applying to agents, do your research beforehand. Are they based in your area? Do they already have a few actors with your casting type? Personally, I love it when you call us by our names, rather than the generic Sir/Madam. This shows us that you have done your homework and adds that little personal touch.

Learn how to self tape

In this modern day and age, you need to keep up with the industry, and one massive part of this is self tapes – people either nail these, or get them so, so completely wrong. Send it to yourself on another device/your friend’s computer before sending to an agent to check that the format actually works and the tape isn’t blank/without sound/upside down (save our poor necks!). Tape yourself against a blank background and make sure the sound is of good, clear quality. Learn your script beforehand and don’t have it in shot. If someone else is taping with you, make sure it’s clear to us which one you are and NEVER look into the lens unless specifically told to.

Don’t pester

If you’re sending your email at 11pm on a Saturday night, 8am on a Sunday morning is not the best time to follow it up (contrary to popular opinion, agents do sleep!). Following up through our personal social media accounts is also a good way to put us off. If we’ve not taken you on, it may be that we thought your work was good but we already have an actor just like you on our books, and it would be unfair for them and yourself for us to sign you. However, don’t be put off! I’d recommend waiting six months and trying again.

Be nice!

If we’ve not signed you this time, don’t get all defensive and start criticising us. Definitely don’t swear
at us. As mentioned before, it may not be a personal thing, and we may just have too many actors like you already.
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on your application, and listen to advice. Agents and casting directors want you to work as much as you do, and if we can work together nicely, we’ll all live happily ever after.
Beth is a Media and Performance graduate from the University of Salford. Starting her career as an actress and presenter, she has vast experience in TV, theatre, corporate and film acting. She began assisting castings on a freelance basis, before starting at The Actors’ Lab and AL Management in early 2017. She now manages the agency full time and is very connected to the Manchester theatre scene.
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