“How Do I get An Agent?” is one of the most common questions I’m asked, along with “Should I go with a big Agency or a small one?”, and “How do I know if it’s a good fit?”.
There’s so much to think about when it comes to choosing Agent, Getting an Agent, and even how to get IN FRONT of an Agent in the first place – especially if you’re brand new to this. While I can’t give you everything here, I can give you some of the key points – from the point of view of someone inside the Agency.
As part of our new Special Guest Voiceover Teaching Series, we brought in Larry Reiss, from my Agent’s Office – Arlene Thornton & Associates. Arlene has been my Agent for the better part of 15 years and Larry has vast experience in casting, engineering and directing, and has been a part of my life for a long time now as well.
The following is a snippet taken from Class #31 of my Teaching Series. At the time of this publishing we have 34 classes in the archive, each a couple hours in length, and the most recent ones include some of the biggest legends in this business! Check it out here if you’re interested!
Ok, so here’s some GREAT tips Larry gave our students that night – your sneak peek into a class:
Ask A Voiceover Agent!
Should I go large or small when it comes to choosing an Agent?
A larger Agency will have a larger list of clients. As someone who worked on the other side of it – in Casting – I can tell you that sometimes a cap will be put on submissions, so if the opportunity goes out to 10-15 agencies and they can only send back 3-5 of their best, you have to think about where that might leave you if you’re with a bigger house and on a long list of talent.
Another plus to working with a smaller agency is there’s less likelihood of being passed over in other ways by a bigger name celebrity. Smaller houses are more willing to invest their time in their talent to help them to grow and succeed. It isn’t that the larger houses don’t care it’s that they have a large talent base – potentially a lot of big name celebrities they represent, and they’re often expected to drop everything when those guys walk in.
Steve: That’s happened to so many of my friends! You can easily get lost in the shuffle as they put more of their attention on a given celebrity.
When you go with a smaller house it’s possible your name will get in front of more casting directors a little bit more, and many times casting directors want to spread the wealth.
What do you guys typically look for when signing a Voice Actor?
Ideally, someone who has a demo, since that’s what we’ll use as a marketing tool to get them out there to casting places. We also want a unionized actor, since we’re a franchised Agency and 95% of our work is union projects.
That’s not to say we won’t work with a non-union actor or someone without a reel, but these are huge pluses if you want to obtain good agency representation.
When you’re listening to a Demo, what are you typically looking for?
We’re listening for truth. The truth of who that person is. We don’t need to hear all the ways that a person can sound like other people out there. Don’t try to be all things to all people, it’s not necessary.
Plenty of people are known for their range, but there’s also a lot of great voice actors who’re known for their ability to convey an emotion. That might make you think “Well, isn’t that gonna be a boring demo?”. Not necessarily. You might be someone who can do sarcasm really well, that’s you in truth, but you also might like horses, or be in a rock band, so there are multiple ways you can flesh out a demo, ways that convey your uniqueness and who you are.
I know from experience that a casting director doesn’t want to have to think “Can this guy do this?”. They want to hear you doing it, being it. So represent you on your demo. Whatever that sounds like, and trust that there’s a place for you.
Steve: Yes, finding your unique voice. We’ve talked about that a lot in classes. The you that you are when nobody’s paying attention. That’s what sets you apart, so don’t go trying to be someone else.
What is the role of an Agent in this relationship and what do you provide for your clients to help them get hired?
First and foremost the job of the Agent is to procure opportunities, to get auditions, and then the other side is to secure the work and handle the booking aspect of it.
We don’t just sit around and wait for auditions to come through the doors, although they do all day long, we market our actors. When we get a breakdown from a casting director we pitch whoever we think is best for it, and most of the time they’ll listen because we have pretty good relations with everybody. They trust us, it’s a relationship built on trust – that we’re only going to send them somebody that is right for the job.
What do you expect of your clients?
We need to know where you are. What you’re doing all the time even if its just meeting a friend for lunch. Invariably that would be the time when we book you to go out to an outside casting director, and if you can’t make it – remember there may only be 10 or so slots – then you may lose your chance at the slot entirely.
We understand that most voice actors do this as a supplemental part of their income, and certainly they have other things going on, but just let us know so we can work around it.
Steve: This is where keeping a Calendar comes in guys, I always stress that Voiceover is a Business and you have to treat it like one.
Be able to take direction, and change direction.
Don’t be too married to your intention. You’re going to go with what you want to do first, we know that, but we’re going to be looking for other things too. It’s like a game of catch, and until we throw back and forth we can’t really know what tricks and spins you got. Everybody is unique, and there’s a process of getting to know you that we have to go through, in order to know where and how to represent you. So be open to change.
Steve: Yes, and Larry is really great at tossing you new ideas. Say “Yes” to being exercised! Go with it and you may discover something really unique about yourself that you weren’t aware of. Flexibility is key.
And lastly – have a good attitude.
They’re going to hire someone they have a pleasurable experience with, and they’ll probably also hire those people back for the same reason.
For more amazing insights into this and every other aspect of Voiceover, check out Steve’s Voiceover Teaching Series here!
Contact us if you have any questions! We’re here to support you and your career!