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Secret Agent Man

What You Should Know About the Actor-Agent Q&A

What You Should Know About the Actor-Agent Q&A
Photo Source: Spencer Alexander

I’m the answer man. It’s been that way my entire life. You got a question? I’ve got the answer.

When did Chaplin make his first film? 1914. Where was Tesla born? Croatia. Why am I so good-looking? Genetics.

As an agent, clients constantly turn to me for answers to their questions. That’s part of my job. And I provide them with the correct response.

If I’m negotiating a contract, I will answer any questions you have about the deal points. If you’d like to know who’s casting a certain project, I’ll give you that name faster than Doc Holliday could draw his gun. And if you want to understand why I’m dropping you, I can provide a road map of all the things that went wrong.

But there are some questions that will always ruffle my Hollywood feathers. And it’s not because they’re dumb. I know it’s a cliché, but I honestly believe there’s no such thing as a dumb question. But there are times when I’m hit with questions that are either inappropriate or could be answered on their own with a little common sense.

For example, every now and then, an inexperienced client will request a submission report. This is a document that lists every project the actor was submitted on during a given time period. According to my computer-savvy assistant, there’s a way to do this, but I never have and I never will. Why should I? First, I’ve got better things to do with my time, and second, there has to be a certain level of trust between actors and their reps.

It’s my responsibility to know if you’re right for a role. Providing you with a submission report opens a whole can of crazy because most actors aren’t realistic about their type and age range. Do I want to explain why I didn’t submit a nerdy guy for the part of a bodyguard or why I didn’t submit a 40-year-old woman for a character in her 20s? No. I really don’t.

(And let’s be honest. There’s no way to verify if a submission report is accurate. I would never do this, but an unscrupulous agent could easily pad the sheet with false information. How would you even know?)

I also get questions regarding projects that were just announced in the trades. Clients will see an article about Ryan Gosling signing on to the “Blade Runner” sequel and they’ll call me right away to see if there’s anything right for them in the movie. How would I know? They just got their lead. The project is weeks, maybe months away from the start of casting. These calls are premature and annoying. Please don’t make them.

And now we arrive at the one thing every performer wants more than anything else: feedback. How did the audition go? Did casting say anything? Am I going further?

If every agent called every casting director about every audition, the whole process would shut down. There wouldn’t be time for anything else. So I try to be selective about feedback. There are times when it’s essential and there are times when it doesn’t matter. Please trust that I know the difference.

Is this the end of the column? Yes. Did I enjoy writing it? Yes. Will I be back next week? Count on it.

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