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Secret Agent Man

Casting Directors May be the Gatekeepers, But Agents are the Key Masters

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Casting Directors May be the Gatekeepers, But Agents are the Key Masters
Why do you need an agent? The entertainment industry is like a private party guarded by the finest security team in the business. If you're not invited, then you ain't getting in. That's why you need an agent. We can call ahead and make sure your name is on the guest list. We can get you inside.

For an actor who's just starting out, access is everything. You can be young and gorgeous and talented, with a degree from the finest school in the country, but that doesn't mean jack if you don't have access. To succeed, an actor has to get in front of the right casting directors. Agents are the ones who make that happen.

Some actors believe they can do it on their own. I suppose that's possible. You could make a few casting friends by doing workshops. It's going to cost, but who knows? It might be worth it. There's also a chance that some casting director's assistant will show up at your waiver production. Or maybe someone will notice your submission among the hundreds that pour in every day. But if you ask me, it makes more sense to have an agent build those connections for you. I'm not saying you shouldn't be creating your own, but we can help you stand out from the hordes of unrepresented talent.

You see, CDs love meeting new actors, but the problem is that most new actors aren't worth meeting. So how do they know which is which? By placing your résumé on my letterhead, I'm sending a message that you have my personal stamp of approval.

Look at it this way: All things being equal, your success as an actor can be determined by who's willing to speak on your behalf. No one will take you seriously if you go around telling people you're talented. Someone has to do that for you. That's where agents come in. We're your advocate. Agents are the ones who make the casting community aware of your existence.

The same logic applies to finding an agent. Sure, you can submit yourself till the cows come home, but it's so much easier to have someone call on your behalf. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The best way to get an agent's attention is with a referral. You can send me a hundred submissions with a hundred beautifully crafted cover letters, but none of that works as well as a referral. This business is all about who's willing to give you a thumbs-up.

Now let's move on to the next phase of your career, the one where you're auditioning on a regular basis and offers are starting to come in. Good luck negotiating those deals on your own. Without an agent, you're going to end up like Jodie Foster in the pinball scene in "The Accused." How do you take a hard line when you really, really want the job? You don't, and that's another reason actors need agents. Most of you are so desperate that you'll accept any offer without thinking twice. Agents have distance, and that distance allows us to negotiate the best terms possible without risking the outcome. (For the record, I like to think of myself as a skilled negotiator, but when I recently purchased a new set of wheels, I had a lawyer friend come with me and do all the talking. We ended up with an excellent deal.)

When you're starting out, there's a lot you can do on your own, but that phase of your career can only last so long. If you want to survive in this business, you need to have an agent. We'll help you fight the good fight, and we'll do it for just 10 percent of your earnings. How's that for a great deal?

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