Let’s assume that after a long and exhausting hunt, you finally managed to bag that elusive beast…an AGENT. You knocked him out (with your charm and talent) and dragged him off to your lair, where you figured a few fluffy pillows and some See’s chocolates were all he’d need for the rest of his life. Well, sorry – it doesn’t quite work that way. It’s now your responsibility to keep him happy and well cared-for. A happy agent will repay you in spades…or at least with some decent auditions.
Despite what the handbooks may tell you, it really isn’t all that difficult to look after a domesticated talent agent. They require very little maintenance and only eat as much as you’re willing to give them. Here are a few handy-dandy dos and don’ts:
– Whining noises (“Why aren’t I going out more often?”, “My neighbor down the street has an audition. Can you get me in on it?”, etc.) are like fingernails being run down a chalkboard to agents. Do it too often and they will bolt, and even if you’ve inserted a LoJack chip, they may never return or love you again.
– Not keeping them well-supplied with the materials they like and need (your headshots and resumes, bookout dates, new phone/cell/email info) tends to irritate them to no end. It’s so much more fruitful to simply give ‘em what they want without having to be asked
– Ringing phones remind them of their former lives as somebody else’s put-upon assistant. Try not to call them unless there’s a very good reason to do so. Particularly grating are those “I’m just checking in to see if anything’s going on” calls which imply that you think the poor creature has completely forgotten who you are or, worse yet, is keeping your career a secret…from YOU!
– Behaving as if you are their only master. Even though you were very proud of yourself for having caught this agent, you have to face the fact that there are probably several hundred others in his “stable” who feel the same way about him. You must learn to share!
– Come the holidays (or when you just plain want to pat him on the head), don’t be fooled into thinking that yet another box of those same chocolates is going to make your Snooky-Ookums of an agent feel special. Put some thought into gifts. Ask his assistant what he prefers: Scotch or apple cider; blue mittens or movie tickets; coffee or tea. Get the idea? And while you’re at it, for heaven’s sake remember that more than likely it’s his staff that’s doing the lion’s share of the day-to-day work on your behalf. Ignore them and you’ll regret it. (Also bear this in mind: Agents and their young, when no longer out in the wild, tend to sit around on their behinds all day, thus gaining weight. Do not encourage this by only bringing them sweets. A nice fruit basket says the same thing and is a lot healthier.)
– Although your agent may appear to be lonely, don’t provide a mate (meaning a new manager) without consulting with him first. There needs to be some chemistry in any new family arrangement and blind dates don’t always turn into love affairs.
– At some point down the line, you may feel the need to enact the “release” part of “catch and release”. Be nice. If you have the guts, do it face-to-face. If your guts are tied in a knot (yes, we know this is stressful), then phone the agent. But please, please, please do not send a perfunctory “per SAG rule such-and-such” drop letter unless, that is, you absolutely detest said agent and never want to hear that voice again. Always thank him for his efforts on your behalf, even if you don’t think there were any (!). (And if that is what you think, you are more than likely wrong. No agent is going to hold onto somebody just for the sake of having a longer roster. They don’t make any money if you don’t make any (duh!), so why would they not be trying to get you work? The fact that their efforts may not have paid off is probably not their fault, so don’t put that on their shoulders unless you know something specific that says otherwise.)
– Should you be on the receiving end of the release program, continue to be nice and don’t start bad-mouthing your former agent. Dropping clients is usually just as hard on them as it is on the dropee and sooner or later, that bad-mouthing gets back to them. Then guess who develops the bad reputation…!
There, now. Don’t you feel better? If you follow this advice, we just know your agent will be purring and your reputation as a very good client will be forever intact.
We will leave you with the following:
My Agent? I Love Him, Man!
I always ask my agent
Lots of questions about him –
Like “How’d you like my photos?”
Or “Ya think that I should join a gym?”.
I don’t ask how his weekend was,
Of if he has the flu.
(Though I worry ‘bout his nasty cough –
If he drops dead, my career is through!)
I heard he just got married
And I even know the bride.
Did I send a card to say congrats?
Are you nuts? I’ve got my pride!
He’d think I’m kissing ass for sure
If I show him that I care.
Treat my agent like he’s human?
Nah! – I’m really not that square.
But in every conversation,
I am sure to let him know
He’s not doing quite enough for me
And I just might have to go.
Yeah, man – that keeps him on is toes
And interested in me,
His most important client…!
And I’ll book my first gig someday –
It’ll happen – just you wait and see!