P A Turner
P-A Turner, the managing director and senior agent for the West End agency Principal Artistes, kindly returns to answer a question posed by several of our members…
What To Look For When Selecting An Agent
If youíre going to get yourself an agent (and if youíve read my last column then youíll 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 youíll need within the industry.
If an agent has been around a while, itís fairly easy to see if theyíre worth their salt or not because basically good agents earn good money. When youíre 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 youíve confirmed that your potential agent has what it takes to represent you youíre 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 actorsí 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 youíre 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 youíre 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 youíre not prepared for them you could be compromising your own and your agentís reputation.
Two pieces of advice to leave you with then:
Firstly, donít let people down and secondly, never forget the old saying: ìYou donít get a second chance to make a first impression.î