I’ve talked before about the type of agent who gathers the headshots of all the actors on the roster and metaphorically slings them against the wall, hoping something will stick. This “spaghetti slinging” method of submissions is what earns some agents a reputation among casting directors as people who don’t bother filtering their roster to decide which of its actors are the best fit for the roles. Casting directors tend not to enjoy dealing with these agents, because they’re not showing any sort of discrimination in selecting which actors to submit. They’re basically saying, “Here’s my roster. You pick.”

On the other end of the spectrum, there are the agents whose care in selecting exactly which of their clients to submit on projects is unquestionable, and those agents are a dream come true for a casting director whose casting process is already overwhelming. These agents have helped steer the casting director toward their BEST candidates, knowing not every actor is right for every project. They’re not slinging spaghetti at the wall and collecting random commissions on whatever happens to stick. They’re cultivating relationships with casting directors and serving their client roster effectively, by only submitting actors when they’re the best fit for the role.

What about you, the actor who may be on the hunt for an agent? Are you a spaghetti slinger? Are you buying the mailing labels, dutifully printing off the same cover letter a hundred (or more) times, occasionally dropping the name of someone who may have mentioned you could do so, and slinging spaghetti at the wall of representation, hoping someone, somewhere will bring you in for a meeting based on your slapdash approach?

I recently saw a tweet in which an actor declared that she WILL have an agent in eight weeks!

While I always appreciate positivity and confidence, that sort of claim is like being single and saying, “I WILL be married in eight weeks.”

What sort of spouse do you think you would possibly end up with, if your only concern in starting the hunt were: “Are you single? If YES, we should get married immediately.” *shudder*

I’ve detailed the targeting process before (several times) and even created a course about it, for those who crave more than exists in those already crazy-awesome columns. Targeting is the difference between spaghetti slinging toward your future agent (Ho Hum) and knowing exactly why you’re a great fit *for one another* (Hell Yes). This is NOT just a one-way relationship, you know?

Interestingly enough, getting clear on exactly which agents are the right fit comes from getting clear on your targets for being cast. Not just “that’s a casting director, so I want to meet her,” but instead, “that casting director consistently populates the type of stories I most want to tell, which tend to have the vibe of the ‘world’ I tend to inhabit, and she actively uses actors whose bullseyes are in the neighborhood of mine… so she needs to know I exist because I help solve a problem she regularly has, just as a part of her job!”

How clear are you on exactly what it is that you offer up as a storyteller (forget range; what is your specialty)? How well-versed are you in the exact population of buyers who specialize (there’s that word again) in exactly the type of storytelling that you do? And which agents have a track record of doing the best job of connecting those populations?

All of that information is totally “out there,” yet I still receive emails and tweets and Facebook posts from actors regularly, asking, “Have any suggestions on any agents I should consider submitting to?” which is just like saying, “Hey, I’m single. Know any other single people?”

Have some criteria.

Have some very well-researched criteria. And THEN ask your trusted circle of friends and colleagues if there’s any specific, less publicly available information to which they have access, which you’d like to know before you submit. BEFORE you submit. You should know before you even bother submitting whether this is someone with whom you’d love to create a business partnership (since that’s what it is you’re looking to enter into).

Care more about your career relationships than you do about whether your pasta is ready to eat, okay?

Now, go get ’em.


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001687.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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