What is an agent and how do you secure one?


(video student Dylan Pollard performing at one of two 2017 Diploma Student Showcases with Symphony Central Coast )

Everyone talks about securing an agent and how important it is. But what do they actually do?

An agent represents you and acts as a middle man between the performer and the casting director. 

Here is a break down:

Let’s say a new channel 7 TV show is looking for an actor to play a specific role, they will employ a casting agent – e.g. Mullinars http://www.mullinars.com.au.

The casting agent will send out a brief to all of the agents via Showcast https://www.showcast.com.au or Casting Networks https://corp.castingnetworks.com , asking for agents to submit their clients for the job. Or, they will search for the actors themselves and then ask their agents to have them audition/send in a self tape.

The agent will then act as the middle man/woman between the casting agent and the actor: organising audition times, following up on the audition and if successful eventually negotiating the contract for the actor to receive the best price for their work.

Most agents receive the same briefs, but the top agents have great relationships with the casting directors and generally have their finger on the pulse of what is coming up and what their clients might be right for. This gives them a huge advantage.

How do you secure an agent?

I spoke with Actor/Director/Writer/ Palm Tree Teacher Nicholas Christo last night to get some words of wisdom, his response was:

(When contacting agents) “Submitting a showreel of good quality is an important first step. Working in independent theatre and inviting that agent along to see the show. Not letting any disinterest get you down. Rejection lasts a moment regret lasts a lifetime.”

I also asked one of our 2017 Diploma Musical Theatre graduates,Nick Geddes, about how we secured him one of Australia’s leading agents Les Soloman https://www.lhe-agency.com/males  during his 2 years at Palm Tree, Nick said:

“Doing some formal training would be a great step towards gaining a potential agent’s interest. I was lucky enough for Nate to ask an agent to come watch me in my diploma shows, and after about the third show, I had shown him enough for him to be interested in representing me.”

The vibe I have from both of these answers is, persistence pays off.

Here is my two cents:

  1. Before you contact any agents be ready, be trained and be willing to give it 100% of your attention. Once you secure one, the last thing you want to do is not be able to make an audition they give you or not be prepared when you go to that audition as it is a small industry and you may only get one shot.
  1. Study! Study! Study! Without the proper training there is no way you can compete with the actors who are putting in the effort. Do a Cert IV or Diploma course, like we have here or audition for NIDA, WAAPA or VCA. Our diploma course and the universities I have mentioned all have showcases at the end where you can show yourself off the the agents.
  1. If you have an opportunity to secure a great agent take it!! Don’t give it a little bit of your attention, give it all of your attention.

What to look for in an agent?

Sometimes when starting out it is great to just take any agent, but there are a couple of things to look out for. The main thing being agents who charge a sign up fee,  as this is illegal now under current industry regulations.

Eg. Give me $500 + $300 for a photo shoot and I will sign you up. This agent (for lack of a better term) is just taking peoples money and earning their income form sign ups!!! Stay away from them. 

An agent should only be taking a commission based on the income you earn for them, no sign up fees involved.

A lot of schools like ours have an in-house agency for students, this can be a great place to start.

Difference between an extras agent and a real agent?

Working for an extras agency is fun and a great hobby and you will probably get a lot of work, but you will be paid hardly anything and with an agent just representing extras that is all you will ever do. If you truly want to be an actor then step out from the extra work, educate yourself and get a great showreel together before you go on the search for a agent that can help you make a career.

Author Nate Butler

Creative Director

Palm Tree Studios