Actor Mailings to Agents: Frequency

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"How often should an actor send a submission to an agent when seeking representation?"

That was the question that came flying at me during a recent class. And it was a great question. The look I got when I shot back my answer -- "Every other month for 12 months" -- was jaw-dropping surprise.

There are valid reasons for why I suggest that actors seeking their champion do the costly snail-mailings with frequency.

As I was sitting at a talent agency this week, I was going through the multitudes of actor mailings bound for the trash. At this particular agency, the assistant opens and filters which actors get a glance from the agents and which thespians get sent off to Fresh Kills, Staten Island.

I was perusing the landfill-bound P&Rs and noticed one mailing from an actor that should have been given a once-over by the agents. It came from an actor who is a regular on an ABC series. He wanted to leave his present agency and start anew with another (an unjustified trend happening a lot lately as many actors panic over the economy).

So here was an actor, with a series and some other good credits on his resume, that was being tossed. I handed his materials over to one of the agents.

Often at agencies it is not the agent who opens the submission you sent to them. It's an assistant or more than likely an intern. (As I write in my book, there is a way to exploit that filtering system to your advantage.)

So being that your materials are often not opened by the intended recipient, you want to hit the agency more than once; preferably every other month for 12 months. This way if your submission is misplaced, overlooked, or -- worse -- never opened at all, you're giving your marketing materials more opportunities to be seen.

Now you may be thinking: "But Paul, the agents will think I'm being rude or an obsessive-compulsive. They'll hate me." Guess what... if they did look at your materials once and tossed you into the trash, they weren't interested in you to begin with. So what are a few more mailings to someone who wasn't previously interested?

You could change that. The agent or their assistant who saw your materials previously may, on a repeat viewing, be in a better mood for being accessible to what you have to offer. Also, how do you know the targeted recipient even saw your materials?

Plus another reason I advocate re-sending several times is that if you have new project announcements to put on your resume or in your cover letter (you should always, always have a business-formatted cover letter), there's something new for the recipient to discover about you. You're working. Which means you're a valuable asset that an agent can exploit and champion.

There's a wonderful study that was done and written about in The Tipping Point, which explores the point at which someone stops saying "No" to an inquiry and relents with a "Yes." You could hit that tipping point with someone with multiple mailings. (Just don't do it every week or month.)

So send. But make sure that what you're sending is professional, clearly defines you, and doesn't have a lot of bullshit prose or gimmicks. You don't want to be forever going into the trash. Or worse -- placed into the 'Freak File.'

Paul Russell's career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit