I am currently in college and I know, even if acting doesn’t work out, I will end up doing something that involves the entertainment industry for a career. I’m considering entertainment law or being a talent agent as well as pursuing acting. I was thinking about interning with a talent agency so that I could get a better sense of the industry and find out whether a law degree would be an asset to working as an agent. Could you recommend any SAG-franchised agencies with formal internship programs? In addition, do you recommend working for an A-list agency like William Morris, CAA, and ICM, or do you think I would get more out of a B-list or C-list agency where I could possibly try to get representation myself?
Wonderful questions! First off, something you should know: there is no longer a SAG-franchised agency agreement. Great information about the end of the long-standing franchise agreement is available at the links here, here, and here. Due to the fact that most agencies that were SAG-franchised during the ATA/SAG negotiations of 2002 have now reached the end of their agreements with SAG, we’re really in a state of self-regulation, where agents are concerned. That said, you can absolutely find some wonderful agencies that are operating under the watchful eye of the Association of Talent Agents here.
Now, let’s talk about the A-list vs. B-list vs. C-list agency issue, as an internship is concerned. Certainly, there are many things you can learn from any level agency, but the amount of hands-on work you’re going to do, as an intern, will vary. A celeb-filled roster may be fascinating work-product (with a big non-disclosure agreement, going in), but you may do very little beyond opening envelopes and fetching coffee. An intern at a boutique-level agency may field offer calls (mostly taking messages, of course), sort submissions from aspiring clients, package submissions, and review breakdowns at the earliest stages.
Make your choice, regarding the level of agency at which you wish to serve as an intern, based on what you’re hoping to learn about the process. If you’ve done rudimentary office work already, you may not learn much from the “big guys” as an intern. If you’re hoping to get an idea of how contract negotiations and pitch calls work, a smaller agency is a better “in.” As for which agencies have formal internship programs, your school should have a master list of pre-approved internship companies. If not, then check that ATA link above and contact the agencies you find appealing. Also, check CraigsList.org and EntertainmentCareers.net for frequent internship listings.
A major word of caution on the interning to “get representation” plan: it’s a bad idea. Most actors who work as interns learn quickly that no one will appreciate them for using the intern gig to leverage a meeting that they couldn’t get otherwise. Separate your goals as an actor from your goals as someone looking to learn about the agency-side of the business. You certainly learn a lot as an intern that may help you as an actor down the line, but you shouldn’t go into the intern-agency relationship expecting anything other than a chance to learn about the role of the agent. Absolutely, there are many agents with degrees in Entertainment Law. You may find a wonderful mentor in the process of interning and that relationship may pay off in a few years, whether you pursue acting or agenting, once you finish college.
Good luck, whatever you choose to do!
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000236.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.