Finding The Right UK Agent & Working Well With The One You’ve Got

It’s a brand New Year and what better subject to talk about than Agents moving forward into 2016!

I’ve had so many conversations with actors here in London about how they find it hard finding an agent or that they are not happy with who currently reps them. The general unhappiness in the agent field for actors here in London can be put down to a number of things on both sides, and I’m happy to be sharing from my experience the best steps to finding the right agent for you and/or working well with the agent who currently reps you.

Finding an agent

Now of course we will always know who the big guys are in town and actors will always relentlessly look that way here in the UK (and around the world) as we all seem to believe that they are the only people who will get us in the door and book the jobs! However, there are more out there who can do just as much and sometimes even more for you-- we need to remember the kinds of actors who are already repped by the bigger, more well known agencies, and how much attention those kinds of actors need, and whether that leaves room for you if you do get taken on by them. Sometimes it works out, but a lot of the time many a friend of mine repped by the bigger agencies is a small fish forgotten in such a big pond.

So other than those larger, more popular agencies out there that we aspire to be repped by in London, we also know there are hundreds and hundreds of other agencies here in the UK, and, as it turns out, anyone can call themselves an agent. So how do you find the right agent for you?

I would firstly recommend (after you have listed a load of agents you would like to approach) asking as many contacts you have available to you as possible-- this can include actors, casting directors/associates/assistants, directors, producers-- any of these people can point you in the right direction about whose work as an agent is taken seriously and whose isn’t, who they've heard of, etc. My first port of call would be any casting office as they have to deal with agents every day and know the ins and outs of who is great to deal with, whose taste of actors they trust and vice versa-- plus it’s very easy to find a casting office’s email (most of them have websites or the best source in finding their emails is on the CDG website in the ‘search members’ section). So there is no excuse here, get emailing casting offices for their opinion, especially if you already have a relationship with one!

The other source that is great for helping you work out which agents here in the UK are best for you is IMDb PRO. You should certainly be searching for the TV shows/Films that are best suited to your casting, taking a look at the cast and finding those who played the great supporting roles and/or day player roles and find out who they are repped by-- you will soon see a pattern on an agency who keeps popping up who isn’t one of the big ones and know right away who you want to be approaching-- one of the best industry tools to be using no doubt! Agency websites can be just as good and I would crosscheck it with IMDb PRO.

Once you start getting meetings with agents (after narrowing a lot down), you shouldn’t jump at the first 'yes'. Get all of your meetings out the way and then really think about who you connected with most. One of the most important and vital parts of an agent/actor relationship is that you get on like a house on fire and you both understand each others wants for your career. Like UK agent George Monkland from 42mp says:

Do you get on? (it's a non romantic professional dating relationship so liking each other is important)”

Make sure that the ‘non-romantic’ relationship is in place before jumping the gun, it’s another fault I hear time and again: actors saying 'yes' straight away as they feel they won’t get anyone else. Remember it’s your career, and you need to know the person you are going to be working with as a team, is the right one.

Working with your current agent

Sometimes it can land more on the actor's side of the fence when the agent/actor relationship isn’t working, so I wanted to share some specific tips that you can use to enhance your current teamwork. 

The first port of call is, have you had an honest conversation about what you want to be focusing on within the industry? Is it Film, TV or Theatre? Is it all three? Have you talked about what you would love to go up for and what not to go up for so everything is massively transparent between you and your agent? Transparency is a must, if your agent is sending you up for projects that you wish not to be a part of and feel aren't in line for what you want to be doing aren’t going to help your career whatsoever, then pick up the phone and talk to them about it. Better yet, call them and arrange a coffee and talk about where you want to be going and what you want to be doing and tell them specifically why! It’s a team, you have to work together and understand each others needs within the industry. Agents should want to hear from you, if they don’t want to hear from you, then there is something wrong and you may want to start looking for new rep.

Next is Casting Director workshops. I honestly feel these workshops are important for the industry and actors here in London. They're such a great way to make that introduction of yourself to a Casting Director or Casting Associate with your talent and for them to know who reps you or if you’re not repped then a great way to follow up with an email to them after the session to see who you should approach! I would sign up to the newsletter and use MickSing Productionsthe quality of the workshops are brilliant and the kind of casting directors Michael gets in are huge and there’s always a massive amount learned here. I would also become a member of The Actors Guild and have them send their newsletters too, as they have many great  CD workshops and skills workshops too-- they also have a close relationship with Spotlight and use their studios for the workshops.

When you receive Casting Workshop newsletters, forward them onto your agent and ask ‘is it worth seeing X, Y & Z right now?’ They will know what those CDs are currently casting (if you don’t already) or not and it will be more specifically catered to you when you go see those particular ones. THAT’S TEAMWORK!

Lastly, I would ask, have you and your agent worked well together in marketing yourself? Is your showreel right? What’s it missing? If it is missing a certain element that could be doing you justice have you found out from your agent what that is? Once you’ve got the information it’s your job to utilise it well, get something made that will help give that showreel a little bit of an extra kick to the foot that knocks the CDs door down.

Overall, it’s just communication and being very business-like whilst maintaining a non-romantic relationship. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and certainly don’t wait around for the phone to ring!

Some more tips on Agents in the UK market

Here in the UK, we don’t really have managers; most of the time our agents couple up as managers-- especially boutique agencies-- so here I wouldn’t worry about getting a manager as well, which is different than say, in the US.

Also, most of the time you will find all agents here cover all bases of work, and those would be; Film/TV, Theatre & Commercials. There are some that are more famous for theatre work over screen and vice versa so ensure you know what field you want to work in and do your research on the agency before approaching them for representation.

If you don’t have an agent, you can still have a profile on Spotlight (The UK’s version of the US's 'Actors Access') and submit yourself for jobs through that portal-- however do bear in mind that Casting Directors will only occasionally post jobs to all artists on Spotlight; most of the time they post jobs to agents only. It’s also quite useful to be on Casting Call Pro-- this site has a wide range of jobs, some that may not appear on Spotlight and it's great to help flesh out your CV with a few selected quality bits you may get cast in from there, plus gain some quality footage for your reel (or making a start of one!).

I hope this has all helped and given you some fresh ideas for 2016!


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