Written for Casting Networks News by Terry Berland @berlandcasting.
Photo credit: Cast Of Thousands / Shutterstock.com

As a talent you should of course have an understanding with your agent as to whether you can self-submit on casting breakdowns or not.

Recently having cast many roles with talent booked directly (no agent), I am finding that many talents who self-submit get their agents involved too late in the casting process. I can only assume when this happens that you do not understand the proper protocols of when to get your agent involved and why that it matters to both yourselves and casting.

It’s OK to get your agent involved after you submit but know the right time.

For example, a recent breakdown went out with the terms of agreement offering a +20% agent fee. Furthermore, the breakdown explained that the talent would be booked from the self tapes. The process began with selected talent invited to self tape. Talent accepted the self tape invitation, with no mention of an agent. The selection process progressed and the talent under consideration were put on avail. The talent accepted the avail with still no mention of an agent. The final selection process moved forward, selects were made and then came booking time. The selected talent accepted the booking and then, for the first time, informed me they had an agent, and asked if their agent could get involved.

I was flawed that the talent waited until after accepting the booking to first ask permission to get their agent involved. Talent, you do not need permission. The biggest clue is there was an agent fee included in the breakdown. My answer was yes, you should get your agent involved!

Why is this point in time too late to get your agent involved, and when is the proper time to do so? Since the talent accepted the booking, the agent was not in a position to cancel the talent if they were not in favor of all the terms of agreement. Based on the assumption that you have your agent’s blessing to self-submit, the right time to get your agent involved is as soon as you are invited to self tape. At that point, your agent will look over the terms of agreement and will tell you if you should decline the audition or continue with the casting process. If your agent agrees that you should continue to self taping, you should write a note to the casting director through the breakdown service provided to you, informing them that you have an agent, who they are and that they will be representing you on this project moving forward.

Why is it important to get your agent involved? The agent is there to protect you. In addition to the agent agreeing to the terms of agreement, they will be the one looking over the contract before the shoot. The contract is usually sent to you a day or two before the shoot. I find with non-union there are many times something in the contract, as small as it may be, does not agree with the terms stated in the breakdown. The producer or client may throw something in without informing casting, or sometimes a business manager uses a previous contract template where some of the terms were different.

I can assure you, as a talent, you probably don’t know how to read a contract as well as an agent does. And if you do find something that is inconsistent, you will not be comfortable bringing it up to casting. Even worse, if the production is giving you the contract on set the morning of the shoot, you will especially be uncomfortable bringing up any discrepancies. In a nutshell, you want to be the talent and you want your agent to take care of the business end of things.

Please talent, keep your head about you and don’t get into a booking euphoric state with unhappy endings. Get your agent involved at the proper time and have fun at the shoot being totally creative.

If you want to sharpen up on your commercial acting technique, follow this link to Terry Berland’s Commercial Acting workshop.