Having both an agent and a manager is like being the child of divorced parents. They may get along beautifully. They may be respectful of one another as they co-parent civilly. And they may make you hate your life every time they talk to or about each other.
Since — especially in larger markets — having both an agent and a manager is more common every day, I want to talk about how you, as the “child” in this scenario, can help these business partners of you do their best work for you, no matter how they may feel about one another.
In casting, I’ve seen all sorts of examples from the co-rep battlefield and it’s always fascinating. There are patterns: Certain agents have clients who are *always* repped by the same manager, and I know when I see that, that we’re looking at some really good co-parenting going on. These agents and managers get along great. Everyone agrees whose job it is to advise the clients about career trajectory and whose job it is to negotiate better billing. Everyone agrees who’s gonna confirm appointments for auditions and who’s gonna request the entire script from casting, so the actor can be as prepared as possible before going in. Everyone agrees where the check autho lives and who handles final hand-off to casting when booking.
I love these relationships. I get a call from the manager after having made an offer on the actor and when she starts talking, she says, “Give me one sec. I wanna get his agent on the line with us,” and I know I’m dealing with people who love to communicate fully with one another in the best interest of their shared client. It’s a thing of beauty.
Of course, I’ve also seen folks at the other end of the spectrum. I’ve called a manager to book an actor and been told — after days of our blissful convos about scheduling auditions and getting the script — that the deal will be closed through the agency. (This, alone, is not uncommon.) But when I call the agent, he’s never heard of the project, he’s pissed that their shared client has been going out on this without his knowledge, and he’s not interested in helping close the deal. Um… does the actor even get word of this? Does the actor just think he didn’t get cast, when what’s true is that mommy and daddy didn’t agree about the budget level at which the kiddo should work?
Ugh! It’s really frustrating when this happens and it’s something *I* don’t know how to fix. Since I don’t always know there’s unrest between the reps ’til it’s too late, how could I possibly help prevent this from happening? Call the agent after first prereads and say, “Hey! Loved your client (whom we scheduled through the manager). Hope you’re on board for this project” or something? Nah. That’s ridiculous.
While most unhappy co-parents do a very good job of keeping their relationships professional and keeping casting out of the loop on their personality conflicts with on another, some like to pull everyone into their drama. Some will hit reply-all on an email that includes producers on a project, calling one another out on “territory” for the actor. This drama lays the groundwork for a lot of concern among the creatives about how things might go down on set with this actor, due to his feuding reps.
Reason number 3000 why your personal contact information must be on your resumé and why I continue to put projects out on Actors Access so that actors can self-submit: If you’re about to lose a job because of your reps, I want you to know about it so *you* get to make the choice that affects YOUR career, no matter what chess match is being played between members of your team.
Now, the majority of my dealings with agents and managers repping the same actor are totally fantastic, uneventful, and downright pleasant. But because there *are* those parents out there who just use the kid as a way to torture one another, we do have to think about the partnerships we’re creating, when choosing to sign with more than one rep.
Warning sign: You’re in a meeting with a prospective agent. You love your manager. You bring up your relationship with your manager and the prospective agent rolls his eyes or yells to his assistant, “Oh, man! Guess who his manager is?” Trust me, this situation is not going to get better over time. Address it right then and there. “Oh, I’ve been really satisfied with her. She’s gotten me out a lot. I hope you’ll be able to work together amicably.” Set the expectations for your team, because — let’s be clear — it is YOUR team.
Warning sign: You book out with your manager, who says he’ll be sure your agent knows, but she never gets word and keeps scheduling you for auditions that you can’t make because you’re out of town. This is a sign of these folks not sharing information. The fix: Do everything in writing. Send emails to everyone on the team. CC everyone — including the assistants in the offices — so that there’s no question about status, ever. Hold regular conversations about “the state of the union” to be sure you’re not being offered roles via the manager that the agent turns down without telling you.
Warning sign: A casting office suddenly goes cold on you after you’ve had your best run of preread, callback, and producer session ever. Possibly, you booked but someone on your team passed. Casting isn’t so keen on bringing you back — even though they’re a fan of your work — when there’s team inconsistency and someone may override the pursuit of the role at the last minute without communication to the actor. If your direct contact information is available, there’s a chance casting will put the ball in YOUR court (where it should be), but there’s only so much we can do.
In the end, you choose your reps and you are responsible for how well they work together on your behalf. If they cannot get along to the extent that they cost you work, it’s time to make a change. If they have only the same relationships and not complimentary ones, you’re paying double commission for the same reach into casting offices. And if they have completely different opinions about the type of work you should do or the tier at which you should be booking, you need to call a CTJ meeting with the whole team — and they need to care enough about your career to be willing to meet, together, in your best interest.
I’m not saying that your job includes micromanaging your team. Not by any stretch! Do enough research before signing so that you know you’ve landed your hell-yes rep(s) and trust that they’re hustling for you exactly as you would hope they should. But if you start seeing signs of unhappy parents in your life, it’s time to have “the talk.”
Last call! Our 100-Day Challenge is coming to a close! Have any wins to share? Did you experience challenges with the challenge? Whether you’ve succeeded with your 100-Day Challenge goals set out on March Forth (4th) or not, do you have any thoughts for how you’ll make the most of the next 100 days we have stretched out before us? My email address is just below. Lemmeknow! Next week, I’ll be sharing your badass results! 🙂 I’m loving hearing from you on this.
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001826.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.