Is Your Agent Legitimate?

22 06 2015

Before we get into the Dos and Donts of having an agent: a word about being sure your agent is legitimate. There are agents called SAG SIGNATORY agents, who are legitimate, but they aren’t the ONLY agents who are legitimate. There are many agencies, including the one I run and the folks who are my personal agents, who are NOT SAG Signatory Agents and are totally legitimate. Here is how to tell if your agent is legit. Don’t sign with an agent if they:

  1. Want any money up front. The exception to this may be if you have absolutely NO film training and they want you to take an inexpensive film class, from an instructor (there should be more than one!) they approve of.

  2. Want to take more than 10% of the GROSS of your wages for film/tv work, or more than 15% of the GROSS of your print/convention work.

  3. Tell you after an audition with them, that you have been “selected” to audition at a convention for a bunch of casting directors. You just have to pay $1200 entrance fee, and have to fly yourself there, and have to put yourself up at a hotel, and the parents have to come too. *(more on this below)

  4. Sign an exclusive contract “in perpetuity,” or for a long time period.

*While the convention itself may be completely

real, and there may be real live casting directors

there, you are better off meeting those casting

directors when you are called in for an ACTUAL

audition for an ACTUAL tv show or film.

Completely legitimate things an agent may ask you to do:

  1. Sign an exclusive contract. Particularly in the Southeast, we have a lot of overlap in regions, and if you are not exclusive represented by ONE agent, it can actually mess up what you are submitted for, and in which location. Most contracts should be for between 12 and 18 months, and renew automatically unless you indicate wanting to leave the agency near the renewal date.

  2. Give them 10% of the GROSS of wages you earn doing film, television, or commercial work. You have to pay your agent 10% of the GROSS because your agent has to pay taxes on it as well! So, if you only pay them 10% of the net – we pay the government taxes twice. Let’s not do that. Here is an easy equation: the total amount of what you are paid – BEFORE A SINGLE THING IS TAKEN OUT – is the GROSS. You owe your agent 10% of that. Your gross is $4000, you owe your agent $400, your gross is $876.98, you owe your agent $87.70. * (see exceptions below)

  3. Give them 15% of the GROSS of wages you earn doing Print or Convention work.

  4. Give them 10% of the RESIDUALS you receive from a film/tv job they booked and negotiated for you FOR THE LIFETIME of that JOB. So, if you decide to leave the agent that booked you that role on GARGANTUAN MONKEYS FROM HELL, you still owe them residuals from that film for as long as you get residuals. Same applies to the 15% from Print/Convention work.

  5. They may ask you to sign a CHECK AUTHORIZATION, which allows your agency to have your checks mailed to THEM. The checks will still be MADE OUT TO YOU, not to the agency. The reason many agencies want you to sign a check authorization to have your checks mailed to them, is because otherwise they have to go chasing around after their money. My agency is very small, but even with only 35 clients, if I have to run around after 35 checks several times a year, it is a nightmare. Same for residuals. There are actors who do not pay their agents residuals, assuming that they “don’t know” about the residuals. Believe me, if a year or two goes by on a job they booked for you and they aren’t seeing 10% of the residuals – THEY KNOW. And it is a breach of contract.

* Exceptions to the 10% of GROSS being owed

agent. You do not owe your agent 10% of a

travel or mileage fee if you are paid that. You

also do not owe your agent 10% of per diem, if

you receive that during your work.

More later…


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