Thursday, November 29, 2012
HOW TO GET A TALENT MANAGER
1) Attend Showcases for Managers.
2) Ask other actors who their Managers are and ask for a referral.
3) Purchase the book at Samuel French's in (Hollywood or online, "The Right Manager" by Keith Wolfe and start making tons of phone calls and sending emails.
As a Talent Manager I receive submissions from people everyday who want to be actors. I say it this way because not all people who submit are actors. They want to be, but many of them aren't yet. They can't all act. I open emails and snail mail with pictures and resumes and it never ceases to amaze me how wanna be actors put so little thought into these all important 1st impressions.
I recently got a headshot from a guy in his 20's with a really great look. His cover letter to me said among other things, "I am currently seeking a commercial or theatrical agent for representation." First I am a manger, not an agent. But I can get him an agent when he is ready if I believe in his talent, like his attitude and choose to take him on as a client. Next I followed the link to his LA Casting site and there was no demo attached. Not a single piece of footage was attached to anything. So how can I see if he can act?
I called this actor and asked if he would please email me a demo from any of the 5 films on his resume, or a scene, or any footage he may have of his acting. He sent back a link that did not work when I clicked it. Great 1st impression. (Actors please check that the link works before you send it.) He also sent one audition video he did for the role of a thug. He said "Most of the projects I have done, I have not received copies for. I hope this suffices." Well it was something, so I watched the audition video.
I liked his look, I liked the body language, his facial expressions and reactions were good, but, his eyes did not mean anything he said. He was acting like he meant what he was saying, but he did not live it. He was not believable. He was not ready to meet an agent. Now I have to determine if I think there is enough potential for me to work with him to get him ready. So I flip over his resume to see where he has trained and there are only four items listed: MN TV & Film On Camera Technique, AIA Studios Scene Study Analysis, 310 Studios Commercial Workshop and Entertainment Studios Improvisation. Do you see the problem here?
There are no acting classes, he has not trained as an actor! Seriously? He did not study at any school for acting. He did not go to college and get a degree in acting. So where did he learn his craft and what makes him think he can act? That is like a Doctor that hasn't been trained as a Doctor. Would you ever hire him?
By looking at his resume, I can see exactly what he has been up to. He has simply taken a few 1 day workshops. Yet in his cover letter informs me he thinks he is ready to have an agent. I see this all the time. Listen up actors, I would never use my relationships and connections with agents to send them an untrained actor. I would look like a fool, and agents would hate me. "Actors" like this have no possibility of competing with trained actors. Agents trust my opinion because I only send them great actors, who are well trained and who are ready! My relationship with the agents I know are crucial I will never put these relationships in jeopardy for anyone. One of our top jobs as Managers is to weed out these kind of people for Agents.
Now here is where it gets funny. I have to call the actor and tell him he can't act. Well I don't say it that way. Instead I say, "I love your look, I think you have potential but I had a few problems with the scene I watched. Your energy was great, expressions wonderful, but I did not believe you. There was no truth in your eyes."
At this point, actors either get defensive and give me attitude, saying I don't know what I am talking about and thank me for my time. Good luck I say and believe me, I am grateful I don't have to waste anymore time with that actor. Or they accept the feedback. Maybe they even agree and ask what they should do. That is the answer I am looking for. That is a sign they may be willing to take my direction. Great because that is what our entire relationship will be based on. For this actor specifically, I will suggest a class with Margie Haber who teaches actors to "live" the moment and not "act out" the moment. That is what he needs. Will he take my advice? Who knows.
Another one of my jobs as a talent manager is to develop actors to get them to the point where they would be good enough for an agent. It is all about doing good acting work. You have to be a good or great actor. Period. If you do exceptional work people will notice. If you want to be an actor you primary goal is to become the best you can be at it. That requires lots of training with quality teachers. If you have a degree in college you are still not done training. You have only had institutional training. not professional training. Often recent college grads with Theater degrees in hand get bent out of shape when you tell them that. Thank you for your time they say. Listen up college grads professional acting training is the same reason Doctors have internships after their schooling. You need time to learn from working professionals. It is very different. If you don't take a managers word for it you will find out yourself.
So I spend some of my time weeding through tons of headshots to determine which actors are serious by the amount of training they have had, the plays they have done and the non-union work they have gotten on their own. I get excited by every actors dream, but it is only feasible for me to work with actors who are committed to being great actors, who have a positive attitude and are willing to take direction.
To find a Talent Manager that is right for you in LA go to Samuel French Bookstore on Sunset Boulevard or online and purchase the $12 book "Personal Managers" by Keith Wolfe. It lists most managers in LA and the types of clients they work with. Go through it with a highlighter and mark the ones that are open to submissions from your type. Hopefully you know what your type is, but that will be another discussion. Be careful selecting a manager. Managers do not have to be licensed like Talent Agents so there are scam artists out there. You should never pay upfront fees for any manager. Managers are supposed to take 15%-20% commission on what your book. Also, you should be given a list of various photographers and teachers to work with. Avoid managers who have a training, photo, representation package. They are often not legit.
When contacting a manager you really need to have your stuff together. Your cover letter should be professional. It should include your headshot, resume and demo reel. If you don't have a demo reel, it should include some kind of footage of you acting so we can get a taste of what you can do. Record a scene or a monologue on your iPhone and send that. Make sure it is well lit so we can actually see you. At least it is something. If you really can act, don't worry about sending professional film if you don't have it. We can tell by what you send where you are in your career. But if the acting is good that is all we care about.
Your headshot should be professional but if it isn't, we will look still review them. We are looking for energy, a sparkle in your eye, charisma, truth, for emotion in the pictures. My daughter's first headshot at 5 years old was a picture I took and she booked off of it all the time. It captured an attitude and an intensity she had. It cost $0. Once we have signed you and are starting to get you out on auditions, you will likely need new headshots then. So don't let that stop you from reaching out to a manager. We can help you get the right headshots when the time is right.
READ MY ARTICLE IN BACKSTAGE.com "How To Impress A Talent Manager"
Always be polite and friendly. We don't owe you anything. There are thousands of actors right behind you looking for their chance every year. If you have an attitude of entitlement, or your ego proceeds you into the room, we quickly remove you from our presence. We are looking for humble, talented, hardworking actors. Confidence is fine, arrogance is not. It won't work on the set with directors and it won't work with your representatives. Our job as managers is to weed that kind of actor out so as not to burden the rest of our industry with them.
Be enthusiastic, upbeat and speak positively about yourself and your passion for acting. Don't worry, if you are lying, we will figure that out by what you have done on your resume. Which reminds me to tell you, keep your resume 100% truthful because sometimes we do call your teachers to see what they think about your acting ability. Remember, we are investing a lot of time into your career and we don't get paid until you are good enough to book the work.
It amazes me when actors say, "I don't know about paying 15% of what I make." Really? You don't make anything yet. Geez. And when you do start making money it will be because we spent 2 years getting you ready to.
It also stuns me when actors don't want to sign a 2 or 3 year contract. They say, "that's a long time, can't we just do 6 months." No we can't. Why on earth would I invest 6 months of my time developing you for free so you can walk away with advances skills and give some other representative the benefit of my hard work? Realistically, it takes 2 - 3 years to really start working in this town. That is what it takes to get you going. If I spend that kind of time with you, working for free, it is because I believe in you and believe that you have the ability to be a profitable actor in the future. I want a piece of that pie.
But, that is not the reason I do this job. I love discovering new talent and getting them on TV and into Films. Nothing makes me happier than to see actors succeed at their dreams. I love on that adrenaline every day. However, this is also a business and you are a mini corporation. I am one of your investors so of course I want to see a return on my investment. Oh by the way, I also have to like you personally because we are going to be spending a lot of time together.
Lastly, one of the biggest things managers look in an actor is the ability to take direction. If you sign with a manager, be prepared to take a lot of direction. We have a lot to do to get you ready for a career as a actor. We are like Med School for an actor. You will have to work hard, but by the time you have completed "my curriculum" you will be ready.
Well that's that. Now you see what it takes to contact a manager and make a good impression. The fact is MOST actors just starting out are NOT ready for a talent manager, because you are not ready for us to sell yet to casting directors. A manager helps makes an actor competitive with actors who have been here longer. I have a 52-Week Course "Talent Manager In Your Pocket - Step by Step Instructions For Every Actor's First Year." This course gets actors ready for a manager.
Learn all about my 52-Week Course and watch the VIDEO here:
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If you are ready to join the other smart actors who are receiving my 52-week program "Talent Manager In Your Pocket - Step by Step Instructions For Every Actor's First Year" and you are ready to take your career to the next level then...JOIN ME TODAY! The 52 Week program is only $295. For less than 1 month of acting classes you will receive one whole year of personal guidance from a Hollywood Talent Manager. By the end of the year, you will be miles ahead of the competition and I told you would happy with the price. It may go up in the next year or two, but for now that's what it is.
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Wendy Alane Wright Smith