4 Reasons Agents Drop Actors After Pilot Season

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Photo Source: Spencer Alexander

The streets of Beverly Hills are charred with the echoes of war. Agents are stumbling out of their offices with a dazed look in their eyes. The fresh air is a baptism on their chests. They are the survivors.

Pilot season has ended.

This is the time of year when guys like me can finally slow down after months of frantic pitching and negotiation. April also marks the end of episodic season, which means we’re about to go from 60 to zero. It’s the exact opposite of what astronauts feel when they blast off from Cape Canaveral.

My first order of business now that I can focus is planning my vacation. I absolutely, positively must get out of town. My batteries need to be recharged, and I’m thinking Maui might have my name on it.

But first…

It’s time to make some changes. Yes, the end of pilot season marks the start of drop season, and blood will run in the halls of every agency in town. Why? Because a client list can become too large if you don’t clean house every now and then.

You see, agents love to sign. It’s an important part of our job, but we can’t just keep adding names to our list without making some cuts. That’s not a sustainable model. If we have too many clients, we won’t be able to give everyone a fair amount of attention.

So the herd must be thinned. How do we decide who must go and who can stay? Well, it’s a long process where all the agents in the office barter back and forth. (“I’ll agree to drop Bob if you allow me to keep Lisa.”) Some choices are obvious. Others can be a surprise. But after much heated debate, the list gets done.

Before I get into the reasons clients get dropped, let me clarify that we give everyone a fair shake. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, actors are given at least one year to prove themselves. After that, everyone’s head is on the chopping block.

The first consideration is financial. This is a business, not an art collective with vague socialist leanings. I have a really nice office in a fancy part of town and I’d like to keep it. That means clients need to book. So when we review the numbers, any actor who’s had over 50 auditions during the last 12 months and hasn’t generated any bookings will probably end up looking for new representation.

But it’s not just about money. We also consider progress. A few years ago, I signed a girl right out of college, and for the first six months, she had plenty of opportunities but didn’t book anything. And then during the next six months, she started to get callbacks and good feedback. Still no bookings, but there was momentum, so I kept her around. (And yes, all that work finally paid off.)

Another consideration is behavior. Being habitually late for auditions, constantly forgetting to book out, refusing to get new headshots—those are all good reasons to say buh-bye.

And sometimes, despite my best efforts, I fail to do the job. There’s never a specific reason, but on occasion, I just can’t get certain clients out and that means I have to drop them so they can start fresh somewhere else.

So there you go. Sometimes it’s me, not you.

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Secret Agent Man
Secret Agent Man is a Los Angeles–based talent agent and our resident tell-all columnist. Writing anonymously, he dishes out the candid and honest industry insight all actors need to hear.
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