NEW TO THE BLOG: Agent Series
It is my pleasure today to present this new agent series to my blog. Over the course of the month you will be seeing some insights into the business from an Agents prospective. I feel it is very important for Actors/Actresses to get opinions and advice on the industry from every aspect. This includes of course AGENTS!
I am a firm believer, supporter and admirer of agents in this industry. Not only does it take a lot of balls, negotiation skills and passion to get your clients somewhere, but they are also pros at relationships. They understand when to help, where to give advice and what you need to do to make your idea of success a reality. That being said, not every agent does this… You will find agents in this industry that won’t look out for your best interest. However, that conversation is for another day!
TODAY I have John Rogerson (we must be distant relatives) who has answered some tough questions on the famous line we all know too well… My Agent isn’t putting me up for auditions.
Thank you again John for sending over these responses. I found them extremely useful and insightful and I hope you do too!
Bit of background on John Rogerson and The Soundcheck Agency….
John Rogerson: I trained at Mountview as an actor on the 3 years MT course. I then worked in the industry for only a few years before discovering my keen interest in work the ‘other side of the table’.
I began working with Sasha Regan at the Union Theatre casting shows for directors including Thom Southerland, also assisting in the producing side a little before being asked to do similar work around London at other smaller venues.
After a number of unsuccessful interviews at places such as Cameron Mackintosh’s and ATG, I was referred to the one of the newest West End Agencies set up by Philip Belfield and Mark Ward, Belfield and Ward.
*Note from HC: Belfield and Ward is a fantastic agency based in London. Make sure to check them out: Belfield and Ward*
I started here as a part time assistant and grew into the ranks of Assistant Agent, cutting my teeth and learning the ropes. With so much diverse work going on and such a small work-force, it was a great place to do this and I found myself loving the job and being rather good at it (so I was told!).
After nearly 4 years here I moved on to work as an agent at Bronia Buchannan Associates (Now BBA) before being asked to set up an agency within The Soundcheck Group (formerly Soundcheck Entertainment) with MD Daniel Hinchliffe.
*Note from HC: I completed my first Agent Internship at BBA – See my post to the Internship Page here
Formerly a music PR company, ‘Soundcheck’ has grown into an umbrella company now consisting of Soundcheck PR, Soundcheck Agency and Soundcheck Productions. We have our first West End musical, Murder Ballad in our sights, PR clients including Barbra Streisand and Billy Joel and actors working in all areas of the entertainment industry.
Running the agency with fellow agent Jamie Sampson we now represent an eclectic mix of clients including West End leading lady, Kerry Ellis, Strictly Come Dancing’s family favourite Russell Grant, Britain’s Got Talent winner Jai McDowall, S-Club 7 and Rocky Horror Show star, Paul Cattermole and the sensational voice that is Rhydian Roberts.
We do of course also represent a fabulous list of hard working actors working in West End and touring shows, at companies including the RSC, The National Theatre and The Donmar and on various Television programmes and films. I also run a small and select list of ‘creatives’ – directors, musical directors, choreographers – even a fight director, an area I personally find very rewarding.
The day to day running of an agency is often busy, quick moving and requires a lot of focus, attention to detail and energy not to mention the ability to keep many people, across many different areas happy and content, whilst remaining approachable and getting the end result all parties are after.
It can be challenging, but more often than not, very fun and rewarding.
1. If you have a client that you believe feels unsure of their submissions, what is your first step of action?
I would always raise the issue first if I can – I will confirm that the lack of auditions hasn’t gone unnoticed and I’d like to meet and discuss how we can perhaps change this and get more interest and casting opportunities.
Some things may be more obvious to discuss, out of date head shots for example or perhaps my feelings that the client is being too picky, or that they are perhaps in a harder casting bracket than most. Whatever it is, throwing some ideas around is the first step.
2. What advice would you give an actor if they’re becoming concerned about the lack of castings coming in?
Think about yourself as a product and how other people will realistically see you. You may dream of being in Game of Thrones, but is the casting director really going to audition you as the next King of the Seven Kingdom’s when you’ve just finished as swing/ 2nd cover Teaspoon in Beauty and the Beast? Probably not just yet…
*Disclosure* There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a Swing or covering the role of ‘Teaspoon’. I auditioned once and didn’t even get recalled so hats off to you.
Talk to your agent and ask where THEY see you being placed in the casting world. Where do THEY see you working and where they have been putting your forward.
Don’t ask and then feel offended if the answer isn’t what you’d hoped to hear. Even if at first you don’t agree with it, go and think about it and discuss it with friend and family, you might soon find out that actually, you’re in the minority on this one or things become clearer with some thought.
3. Do you have any clients that want to see their submissions on a monthly basis? If so, do you take any steps before sending it over (deleting any information off the sheet)
I absolutely wouldn’t amend any submissions before sending them over as it would defeat the purpose. If there is a problem or a disagreement on where the client should be placed then it’s better that that is recognized and either amended or, that the client perhaps changes agent to find a better working relationship – however, I tend not to jump at the chance to send these to a client as I believe that there needs to be a trust between the agent and actor. We trust that they go to the casting and do a brilliantly prepared audition, and in return, the client must trust that an agent is putting them forward in the right place, in the right way, and at the right time. If that trust isn’t there, it’s not going to work.
However, if it comes to it and it helps, then I’ll send over recent submissions.
4. What is your first tip to clients when they feel they aren’t being seen for their desired auditions?
Communicate – discuss your concerns with your agent. Don’t be accessional towards them, just explain that you’re concerned you haven’t had many castings and work out what, if anything, YOU can do to help.
Your agent may be able to convey some insightful knowledge you didn’t know about as to why you didn’t get seen for X, Y and Z – then again, they might not – but airing your concerns directly to them is step one.
5. How much pushing does it take for a new graduate to be seen by those top Casting Directors?
It’s completely dependent on each graduate. Some have a long list of castings under their belts before they’ve even graduated, some have even booked a job by then – others struggle for a fair amount of time to get in the room after graduating, to the point where they are not even deemed a graduate any more. It’s all dependant on personal skills, look, sex (not the ‘casting couch’ type) place of training and what is casting at the time.
As long as the agent knows the graduate, what they do and where they fit in then if needs be, a push in the right direction should work and once the first audition for said casting director is done, then they’ll know who they are and what they do for the future. Regardless of an agent’s pushing and relationship with the casting director however, we can’t hold a gun to their head and if the answer’s ‘no’, it’s a no!
6. Do you find it is easier to get in Men or Woman graduates to those top first round auditions?
It’s definitely easier for the blokes, no doubt.
There are more jobs, more roles and less men around to do them, but at the end of the day, you need the talent, the drive, the commitment, the professionalism and the determination like everyone else. And of course, a good headshot!
7. Last but not least, what advice do you have for actors that really feel like their agent isn’t doing them justice?
It’s all about communicating and discussing with your agent. Find out what You can do to help as well and take the advice given to you by them. Remember that how you see yourself, is often different to how the industry sees you. Your agent wants you to work and earn money so there’s no reason for them to do anything to hinder you getting the castings, but at the end of the day, after some time working on things, if it’s not working, perhaps it’s time to move on and try a different working relationship.
Thank you again John for taking the time to tell us about your experience, agency and insight. I hope all actors can read this post and take away some useful pointers and advice if you’re ever feeling neglected or dismissed by your agent. Always bare-in-mind they signed you for a reason – they want you to work!
Make sure to go and follow John Rogerson, The Soundcheck Group and Murder Ballad the Musical.
Make sure to check out my recent article on Social Media from Winterson’s Agency.
Hearts & Flowers,
#SoundCheckAgency #Actors #Agents #Agent #WestEnd