A friend once told you me people don’t need to know what you are thinking. For the most part I agree with that sentiment but sometimes you just have tell your story and let people know what is going on. My thoughts or rather this story came from a conversation I was having with Lee Jessup on Stage 32. This is an expanded version of my story regarding agents who represented me in the past:-
Every Actor has issues with their agents from time to time and actors will change agents a few times or many times in their career. There is nothing new or unique in this. What can be unique are the stories, performers will relate about their dealings with their past agents. I am not different. So here is my story and experiences with agents from my past who supposedly represented me.
My ongoing film and television career one could say kind of ended when I landed my first agent back in 2005. It seems strange thinking about it now because I had spent the previous two years or so prior to this jobbing around film and television, doing bit parts here, working part-time in a film and television studio, learning about screen production from the ground up via working in front of as well behind the camera. I landed my first agent and all that kind of came an end. I thought I was taking things to the next level. There are times up until a month ago when I signed to my current agents when I often wondered whether my ‘taking things to the next level’ was a smart move because while things were bad before, they only got a whole lot worse professionally and financially. But I digress. Back to my story about agents.
This is what happened in my case. When I seriously began promoting and marketing myself on-line and via Social Media back in 2007, I already had a two year relationship with my first agent. I was attending auditions and that year and had a record number but had no success in landing roles. In fact, there was one job that I was sure I had landed and the director more or less said I had got the job but then I never heard nor saw him again. Still I was getting out to auditions so felt I needed to push the barriers ever forward.
Eventually I found my agent had so many people on her books that I felt the time had come to move on. An actress friend suggested her agent and arranged a meeting and we got on well and signed up. We had a good working relationship despite my not getting any work via him during the eighteen months I was a client. Actually the only role I go was an unpaid, non-singing role in a stage musical. Again I was getting out to castings and auditions so he was keeping up his end but incompetence on the part of one of his assistants resulted in him dropping me from his client list. Which brings me to my last three agents prior to my current agents.
The first of this Unholy Trinity I signed to while with my second agent. The writing was clearly on the wall looking back now. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. You could call that woman fifty times and all you would ever get was voice-mail. I do believe in the four years she mis-represented me, she only answered her ‘phone to me once. Her cellphone number always went straight to voice-mail. Every attempt to arrange a meeting was met by promises to invite me to her office which never happened. Not even once. Surprisingly on rare occasions she would get me the odd audition. One for a major West End stage play. Never heard another word from her about the outcome of that audition until I saw a news article about the play opening in London’s West End.
The second of the Unholy Trinity was far more pro-active. Within three months of joining her agency, I landed a role in major horror film. My time as a client after that consisted of low-paid jobs that would never make the rent. Still I was getting out to auditions and interviews, even if most of those jobs were nothing more than glorified walk-on extra jobs. It is interesting to note at this juncture that before getting my first agent, I actually had a career working on major film and televisions productions. From my second agent onwards, my career started to go backwards. So much so I ended up (until last year,) working unpaid for some unscrupulous Greek Director in his stage productions during this period. The horror film role aside, I never worked on another major film. Again the writing was on the wall as the last audition she got me was a total disaster due to a lack of communication. The audition was for a play a drama student was producing. Commitment was for three months and the pay for rehearsals and performance for the whole period would not have paid my rent for a month. My agent’s response to my querying the rate of pay, was it was at least a paying job. She missed my point, which was I am a professional actor and professionals get paid for their skills and expertise. This soured relations for me, especially as she hadn’t even bothered to negotiate on my behalf but how could she? She couldn’t be bothered to have a meeting with me in the three years I was a client.
The third agent of this Unholy Trinity of agents, left me with the distinct impression she was out of her depth. Her agency never got off the ground. She got to attend a lot of show business parties and have her pictures taken with the great and the good but my career (like her agency,) never got off the ground while I was a client. The only good thing she did oddly enough was an audition for an unpaid role in short film but the only reason I bothered was Casting Director Nancy Bishop was actually involved with the casting of it for some reason. The audition consisted of me having to film a scene of myself playing a hostage. I didn’t have a proper camera to film myself (because I am not a film maker,) but cobbled one together, just because Nancy Bishop’s name was mentioned. Never heard from her again (agent that is,) until a message turned up via LinkedIn a couple of months back wanting me to write a recommendation for her. This is the same lady that never got me audition, took me off her friendship list on Facebook for no reason I can think of and now wants me to write a recommendation for her!? I cannot think of one single thing I could recommend her for, apart from being a bad agent.
My current agents seem to be a lot more savvy than what I have had to deal with over the past four or five years (longer come to think of it). One has been running her agency far longer than any of the agents who had represented me previously. Her business partner is a working actress who knows the industry and has the same experiences as her clients. I have yet to meet them but as they are not London-based, a meeting will be arranged when they are in London on business. Strange given that the Unholy Trinity were London-based but I never laid eyes on two of them.
As a smart guy used to say when discussing Football (Soccer) matters: “It’s a funny old game”. Show Business is no different. I know you have to put up with the rain in order to see the rainbow, let alone get to that pot of gold at the end of it. My journey thus far has entailed a whole lotta rain but no rainbow as yet. Acting is like a religion in many ways. No matter what the Devil and Life throws at you, one needs to have Faith and the ability to keep The Faith because without Faith and Belief in yourself, Diablo and his demons (in my case bad agents,) will drive you to despair and straight into Purgatory.