Tips for Having a Great Relationship with your Agent or Manager
Last year I read some great tips provided by Gwyn Gilliss Communications. I highly recommend signing up for her weekly actors business tips here: https://www.gwyngilliss.com/ The following a response to her article with my personal advice updated for 2018. To read the original you will have to sign up for her newsletter and ask about it. She has a lot of great tips and it's worth your time.
Gwyn mentions the 5 steps to creating and maintaining a successful agent relationship:
Communication, Follow Up, Expectations, Gratitude, and Updates
1. COMMUNICATION is definitely the most important thing. If you're afraid to call your agent/manager there is a problem with that relationship. My agent loves a bi-weekly email that updates them on our classes, meetings and auditions. Always tell your agent as far in advance as possible if you are not able to work on any given day whether it is for a personal reason like vacation or a conflict with another job or obligation. Before you change your headshots always talk with them. They may have advice for your look, ideas of great photographers or they may want to choose which images are associated with them on your casting accounts.
2. FOLLOW UP when you have an audition or meeting, every time. You can ask for feedback from the casting director, I've done this with mixed results - they often don't have time. The important thing is your are staying proactive and trying to develop your own relationships with casting. They are people too!
If I know the CD then I do follow-up on Theatrical auditions and if I don't know them I ask my manger to reach out. I've never done it with Commercial (that isn't to say you shouldn't) but I've taken so many classes and gotten feedback that I'm doing well. That coupled with receiving regular callbacks and getting brought in with the same offices over and over tells me that I'm in the ballpark. I do make sure to send Thank You notes to the CD, ALWAYS when I book with them and sometimes just to say thanks for being a well run office with a great staff.
3. EXPECTATIONS need to be understood or how will either party meet them? When I meet with an agent or manager for the first time I have a list of questions I want answered. How and How often do they want to be contacted. What do they expect of me. For us we have a very different relationship with our agent than we do with the managers. My agent prefers quick messages that get right to the point and they love email over the phone call. My manager prefers texts and will spend 10 minutes on the phone brainstorming and sometimes just catching up. Everyone is different, so make sure you know your teams expectations.
4. GRATITUDE is FREE. You don't really even need a reason to say thank you to your agent or manager. Whether you see it or not they are working for you everyday and only get paid when you do. A simple email is great, a physical card is better and if you can afford it a small gift from time to time is appreciated. I always offer our agents and managers free tickets to any show the kids and I are in. At least twice a year I make an appointment to drop off gifts for the office. The largest being between Thanksgiving and Winter Break. Our manager likes bi-monthly emails detailing what we've been up to, who we've met with (like casting workshops, networking events or classes), any side projects (like podcasts, background work, web series.)
Anytime we book, I make a special trip over with a thank you card and an extra gift to show our appreciation. Unless you are a series regular or movie star they have to work very hard for every penny they bring in.
5. UPDATE your profile and resume often. Anytime you book a new job or take a new class or gain/lose weight you should update every casting site. You are helping your agent promote you so be sure to give them every tool to help them.
We update our headshots every 6 months for the kids and I get new photos every year. It's expensive, especially paying for the pictures to be added to every casting site but we always see a big increase in auditions when we refresh those photos. We make sure to have in person meetings often. Sometimes I call the office and get a coffee order and drop it by just to say a quick hello. Always be considerate of their time and only drop-in if that's OK at your agent. Mine prefers a heads-up to a surprise visit.