It is said and understood that knowledge is power. That being assumed, the skill that will get you fame and fortune quicker than any other skill is the ability to network.
In other words, develop your people skills and learn to network with people, because I am going to be the first to tell you that who you know is much more important than what you know.
If you look around you during the process of marketing yourself and charting the waters of the entertainment industry (be a sponge and observe everything!), you will notice that those models/actresses who are getting the better exposure and better gigs are those who network with the right people.
There is no better way to accomplish this than to have a good agent, and then a good manager. Let me also say that you might get the better agent by utilizing your networking skills.
Most people do not know the difference between:
- An agent.
- A manager.
An agent is an individual who finds work for you. A manager is an individual who guides your career, and must work with your agent to make sure that you are getting the kind of work that you are best suited for.
An agent will get a percentage of whatever work he gets for you. If he or she do not get work for you, they do not receive compensation. A manager receives a percentage of every dollar you make. I will get into specific percentages in a moment.
The point is that you really don't need a manager until you are getting work very regularly. Get a career going first, then hire a manager. Now let's get into the specifics.
Types Of Agents
There are 3 different kinds of agents:
1. Theatrical Agent
The first agent is called a theatrical agent, and this agent will find work for you in film and television. (There is also a theatrical agent for live stage performances, but this is an area that most people reading this site will not be going into, so we will not cover it - those interested can contact me via email).
This agent will be able to set up auditions for you in film or television. A good agent can do this because he or she subscribes to a special service called Breakdown Services. Breakdown Services are listings that are e-mailed to the agency all throughout the day from Monday through Friday.
They are listed by production companies who produce television shows and films of all budgets. They have student films where the pay will be very little (if anything), all the way up to studio films produced by Steven Spielberg.
I will get into specifics about the different kinds of jobs available in a future column. A theatrical agent will receive 10% of the gross income that you receive for doing each job that they book for you.
Please do not try to subscribe to Breakdown Services as an actor or model. Breakdown Services are ONLY available to licensed talent agencies or high powered managers. Talent (actors/models) must be submitted by a licensed agent or manager.for the jobs listed in the Breakdowns. Those of you who might want to represent yourself will find it difficult to find work without receiving Breakdown Services. This is why you need a legitimate agent.
2. Commercial Agent
The second type of agent is the commercial agent. This agent will try to find work for you doing television commercials, industrial narration, and even radio commercials. This agent will also subscribe to Breakdown Services, which also list commercial productions.
This is an area that is extremely competitive, although most breakdowns will mention exactly the type of look and age group that the production company is looking for. For example, the breakdown might say: "Female, early 30's, think Hilary Swank."
For both commercials and film/television work, the breakdown will list at the top whether the job is union (SAG - Screen Actors Guild, or AFTRA - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) or non-union.
You can only do union work if you are a member of the union. I will explain this in a future column, but let me say that most agents will not want to represent someone who is not in the union.
The reason? If you are non-union, the jobs available are fewer and the pay is much less, which translates to less commission for the agent. A commercial agent will also receive 10% of the gross income you receive for doing each job that they book for you.
3. Print Ad Agent
The third type of agent is the print ad agent. This agent will try to get you work doing print advertisements. These can be advertisements in a magazine or newspaper, on billboards on highways, or any kind of advertisement where your image is used to sell a product or service.
The print agent will receive a commission of 20%. The reason why they receive a higher percentage is because you will not receive any bonus payments once you have been paid for doing the photo session, like there is for commercials and film/television work.
The good news is that in most cases, you will receive 100% of the payment for doing the job because production companies generally pay the agency commission for you. On breakdowns for print advertisements, at the top where they list the compensation, it will say $2000 + 20% agency fee.
The Role Of Managers
As I mentioned before, managers are there to guide your career. Managers should be working with your agent to make sure that you are getting the right jobs, and a high-powered manager will know many producers and many times can get you an audition for a bigger project.
What makes an agent or manager more powerful is who they represent. Someone who represents Julia Roberts is going to have much better connections than someone who represents new unknown talent. Do you remember one of the first things I said in this column?
important than what you know."
A high-powered manager or agent is someone whom everyone in the industry knows. A manager guides your career, which means when fame and fortune comes, he will hire a publicist, an entertainment attorney, and even a business manager who will help you manage all the money coming in.
Managers will generally receive anywhere from 15-25% of the total compensation you receive for all activities in the entertainment industry.
A high-powered manager or agent will have a relationship with many producers and production companies, who come to them to ask whether any of their clients are available to work on a project. Once you are a famous model/actress, there are many times where a script may even be written with you in mind to play the character.
Newbie Guide To Agents & Managers
Here is some important and general information that you will need as someone who is just starting out. Talent agents need to have a license to operate as an agent. They are registered with the Division of Consumer Affairs in whatever state they operate in or where their office is.
Managers do not need a license, however. If you are approached by someone who claims to be an agent, when you visit their office, their license must be on display.
You can also check with your state's Division of Consumer Affairs or the city's Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints registered against them. You also need to remember that an agent does not receive any compensation unless he performs his task or does something for you.
Managers do not.
Never pay an agent any money up front. If he or she asks you for money before they earn it, just politely tell him that you have an appointment with another prospective agent and leave as quickly as possible.
Okay, now I have to address a subject that can be tough to deal with... What you have to realize and remember is that an agent can only get you an audition. You have to be able to deliver a performance that will earn the job.
Your agent cannot do that for you. What this means is that you have to be prepared to go out on auditions and win that job. You have to be able to make your agent believe in you. Let them do their job and you do yours. I have heard stories of agents who have had a client try to cut them out of a fee, by not telling their agent about something that was offered to them.
Doing that will most likely cause your agent to not represent you any longer. Sometimes an agent has an easy time booking a job for you. There are other times where it might be very difficult. Remember that an agent is not earning money booking you at first, and he is spending time (time is money) with you. You have to build a relationship of trust with your agent.
Next month, we will do an interview with the great Lenda Murray. We will talk about applying great success in fitness to a new career - after you retire from competing.