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acting agent

6 Key Guidelines to follow BEFORE your child signs with an Agent

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Becoming a performer in any capacity is a big undertaking at any age. It is even more so as a child.

Entering your child into the film industry is new and unexplored territory for most parents. It is a full time commitment, and the possibilities are limitless. To help navigate your way through the beginning processes, we have a few pieces of advice!

* Do your research! Most agencies have all of their policies and expectations readily available on their websites. Are you and your child ready for the expectations that come along?

* Enroll your child in a class or workshop, have a coaching session with an acting teacher BEFORE you contact an agent. The Coach has industry experience and could help point you in the right direction, whether it be to continue with classes first, or to jump right in and get an Agent.

*Just like any activity, is this a passing phase? Are you and your child ready to make this career decision?

* Look into workshops for parents of child actors, these information sessions are worth their weight in gold! An industry professional guiding you with insider information and teaching you etiquette on how to hone your child’s craft as well as teaching you how not to get too involved (Stage Moms…’nuff said!)

​* Understand that this is not like registering your child in a sport. You cannot opt out when you don’t feel like attending auditions. Agents are not coaches; we are not paid to represent your child. If you sign a contract with an Agent you are agreeing to be committed and do your part to ensure your child’s success. Children can’t decide they don’t feel like preparing for their audition, they don’t feel like studying their lines etc. You must explain to your child that they cannot decide not to put in the effort on a given day. It is a job, it is a commitment and getting auditions are like winning the lottery so to speak. They must be prepared and they must be eager to succeed.​

* The amazing thing about this industry for Children is that it can aid a parent with secondary school funds, it is the only activity that you child can do that has the potential of making money not just costing money. If you register your child in hockey, figure skating, dance etc. the chances that they will make an income from their sport is very slight. The chances they can make an income for your efforts in this industry is great! Children that stick with this, parents that do their part by getting their child training, following their Agent’s guidance etc reap the rewards and they can really help with savings for College and University.

At the end of the day, becoming an actor is a full time job. It has both benefits and drawbacks and can set your child up with amazing life experience. Interview skills, self-confidence, and public speaking are all transferrable. Learning to control the room at a young age can set them up for huge success in the future in any industry as well. It can also mean rushed/missed dinners, late nights of learning lines and time off of school.

​Know the facts before jumping in….read online, speak to actors, speak to coaches! Send a question or two to an Agency….collect information to make an educated informed decision.

MONEY MONEY MONEY

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Money makes the world go round, it doesn’t grow on trees, and it cannot buy happiness. Money can, however, buy coffee and biscotti, which is just about the same thing!

 
All joking aside, we all want to be compensated for our hardwork and effort. Sooner, rather than later! When it comes to being paid in the acting industry, the speed of which your cheque is received depends mainly on the project and the production company​.
 
 
Union projects are paid out according to union rules. SAG-AFTRA and ACTRA each have their own union specific policies. You can check out the links provided for their up to date information! Union cheques arrive quickly, usually within 3 weeks.​
 
 
Non-Union projects are really at the mercy of production. ​The law in Canada for payment of services is 90 days.​ ​Non union productions take their time, an Agency will submit the invoice the day after you shoot and then wait.​ There are a few production houses that are amazingly swift and on top of all accounts payable that pay out within 30 days. This is unfortunately not the norm. Some sage words of advice? Anticipate the worst but hope for the best. 30 day payout is a welcomed surprise, 90 days is the expectation.
 
 
​When it comes to buyouts it can be very very frustrating in the non-union world. A buyout is only paid to the actors that survive the final edit.​ So when you see a session rate and buyout listed on a breakdown, it doesn’t mean you will necessarily make the buyout amounts. An Agency has to wait for production to inform us on who made the edit and who’s buyout invoices they need. There are times when the campaign has started airing and they have still not requested the invoice for the buyout. There are few production companies that are very very slow moving to pay out buyouts. Buyouts are usually large sums of money and its hard for the actors not to assume it is their agency that is delaying payment. This is simply not the case, when the cheque arrives, you are notified, end of story.
 
 
While neither you, nor your Agent can control when your payment is issued, you can help the process by providing your information and having all necessary applications/contracts/paperwork done ahead of time or at least in a timely manner. General information to have on hand , and ideally already submitted to your agent:
 
 
Your email address 
Your Phone # (house & cell)
Your address – mailing and physical if applicable
Your SIN
 
Make sure all of your information is up to date, and let your agent know as soon as there are any changes.

An Agent’s Purpose

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An Agent’s entire job is to get you an audition; to run an efficient and effective business where their entire roster is accountable and reliable. When a casting house calls or emails, they know without a shadow of a doubt that (barring hospitalization and already being booked for another project) the talent they want to see will be unequivocally available. This business never stops or even takes pause for sleep. 

Lets break down the purpose and directive of an agent; their sole purpose is to promote their signed talents. An agent is a full time, 16-20 hours a day communicating machine. Your agent is in constant communication with casting houses, production teams and directors. 

They already have the relationships built, they know the nuances, and they have committed themselves to being your biggest cheerleader. They only get paid when you do. The more you get paid, the more they get paid. Everything they tell you is to help push you in the right direction for your career. This is a well oiled machine! Don’t reinvent the wheel! And at the risk of adding in one too many tacky cliches, They know what they’re talking about! They would NEVER steer you in the wrong direction, their job and livelihood literally depend on it.

The risk isn’t ‘will your agent work for you’, the risk is, ‘will you work for your agent’? Once your goals align with each other, the sky’s the limit! Aligning your goals may take some time, but here are some surefire ways to help the process:

  • Be Punctual; with emails, confirming auditions, and attending meetings/auditions 
  • Always email. Phone lines are lighting up at all hours of the day and night, and are  reserved for casting/production/directors   
  • Read EVERY line of an email twice before emailing questions. The answer is 9/10 right in the correspondence 
  • Time change requests – Your agent doesn’t set these times, so no, they can’t change them 
  • Schedule yourself as though this were your job (it kind of is, right?) Write down (and have it easily accessible) all your Confirmed shoot dates, Outside dates if you are booked, but no dates have been confirmed and Auditions 
  • Do Not confirm conflicting dates 
  • Be accountable                 

Acting agents utilise a unique blend of customer service and marketing skills to give their talents the tools they need to succeed. Be receptive to their advice, and give them back just as much dedication. Your efforts won’t go unrewarded!