Why All Rookie Mistakes Aren’t Easily Forgiven in Hollywood

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Photo Source: Spencer Alexander

Most of the clients I represent are experienced professionals. They’ve got tons of credits and they know how to behave on set. I may not represent A-list stars, but I’ve got plenty of people who can hold their own when the director yells “Action!”

I also work with younger performers who don’t have as much experience. Every agent I know signs developmental talent, hoping they’ll rise to the next level; that’s part of our job. It’s fun watching actors who don’t have much of a rind become income-generating clients. The only problem is the newer kids don’t always know how to behave on set when they start booking work. Should I do this? Should I do that? It’s all brand-new, and the last thing you want to do is create problems that might tarnish your name.

I recently got a call from a pissed-off casting director who had hired my client Elaine for her show. This was Elaine’s first workday, so I knew something had gone wrong on set. It turns out she was snapping pictures with her iPhone and posting them on social media. And like most misguided millennials who feel the need to document every aspect of their lives, she was doing a whole lot of posting. This is a major no-no. Production was ready to fire her, but they had already shot one of her two scenes, so they were past the point of no return. So for the next hour, I apologized to everyone involved with the production, including the caterer, and I had Elaine delete every single post. She was devastated, but I explained that everyone makes mistakes and life tends to go on.

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I remember another time when a developmental client got reamed out on set because she asked one of the stars for a referral to his manager. Five minutes later, I had another pissed-off casting director on the phone.

But this third story is about as bad as it gets. Let’s call this client Dummy. No, wait. That’s mean. Let’s make it Danny. Anyway, this guy had booked a week of work on his first studio film. Production was behind schedule, so everyone was a little on edge. In other words, this was the worst possible time to cause a delay.

Danny was doing a scene that took forever to prep because of a tricky camera move. I wasn’t there to see it, but I’m sure everyone’s heart stopped when Danny yelled “Cut!” in the middle of a take. Why did my client decide to play director on a massive production that was behind schedule? Because he got one of his lines wrong. They fired him on the spot and the role was recast by the time they wrapped. And yes, I received another pissed-off call from casting—the worst one yet.

Casting directors—the people who hire you—are the ones who take the hit when an actor misbehaves on set. Why? Because they’re the ones who hired the actor. And casting directors always pass that hot potato on to the incompetent moron who introduced them to the actor in the first place (that’s me). I’m the incompetent moron. It actually says that on my business card.

Sometimes, 10 percent is just not enough.

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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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