If you’re going to get yourself an agent (and if you’ve read my last column then you’ll know that you definitely should) the golden rule has to be “get yourself a good one.”
Good agents have had time in the business, time to learn the trade, time to develop their negotiating skills and time to build the contacts you’ll need within the industry.
If an agent has been around a while, it’s fairly easy to see if they’re worth their salt or not because basically good agents earn good money. When you’re looking for an agent to represent you you should look for the following two clues:
• A good address.
An agent with a good address must be doing a good job to be able to afford it.
• An agency that is VAT registered.
If an agency is VAT registered then they are earning a minimum of fifty five thousand pounds a year. A company that is not VAT registered could be earning less than you are!
Once you’ve confirmed that your potential agent has what it takes to represent you you’re going to have to make sure that they will do so with dedication and fairness.
Watch out for agents who try to tie you to them for all eternity with contracts littered with small print. Contracts should be short and explicit and include a clause allowing you to move on with just a few weeks written notice.
Another trick to avoid is the old money up front routine. Models are sometimes required to supply this but a good actors’ agent never asks for money in advance. Your only obligation should be to provide photographs.
Agents have to make a living but the odd horror story suggests there are some out there intent on making a killing. Look carefully at the commission your prospective agent expects to gain from the work you do. A fair commission is TEN percent for stage work and FIFTEEN for television and film. If you’re asked to part with any more, my advice would be to head for the exit.
As a final word I must speak up on behalf of my fellow agents and remind you all that it takes time to sell an artist. Give it a year with a new agent before you decide to assess the situation. Make sure too that you’re not letting yourself and your agent down. Once you have an agent you need to practice your skills and use your wages from other work to pay for classes as well as nights on the tiles. Auditions can come at any time and sometimes at very little notice and if you’re not prepared for them you could be compromising your own and your agent’s reputation.
Two pieces of advice to leave you with then:
Firstly, don’t let people down and secondly, never forget the old saying: “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”