8 Questions You Should Never Ask An Agent

In my last post I covered 8 great questions you can ask a potential new agent when you’ve got a meeting with them. Now let’s look at some of the most common questions you definitely shouldn’t be asking!

  1. How Many Actors Do You Represent
  2. Why Should I Sign With You
  3. What Type Of Projects Do You Typically Represent Clients On
  4. How Many Auditions Will I Get Each Month
  5. How Much Money Will I Earn Each Year
  6. Who Is Your Biggest Client
  7. Who Can You Get Me Seen By
  8. What Is Your Commission Structure

Don’t Ask…

How Many Actors Do You Represent

This is first on the list of clever sounding but pointless questions because the truth is it doesn’t make much difference.

A newer agency or independent agent might seem small by not having a long roster of clients or that might be the perfect amount for the personal level of management you want.

A bigger more commercial agency might have closer to a thousand clients but they will have the systems and personnel in place to manage all of those actors just as well.

The number of clients doesn’t really tell you anything about the skill of the agent.

And you can almost always get this information yourself from their website.  

Instead ask: “Where do you see me fitting in with your current clients. ”

Why Should I Sign With You

Your relationship with an agent should be a mutual partnership and this question is far too obnoxious.

It puts them on the defensive and makes them have to “sell themselves” to you. This is not an interrogation or a confrontation.

Don’t ask them to prove themselves, nobody likes to do that, instead ask: “What do you feel your agency is known for”.  

What Type Of Projects Do You Typically Represent Clients On

This is another question that falls mostly into the category of unnecessary.

You should have been able to find this out already by doing your research and asking it shows you haven’t.

Go down through their client lists on their website, look at each of their CV’s particularly from those who are similar casting type to you. Make a note of the type of work they do and then you have no need to ask this question in the room.

If you’ve submitted to and secured a meeting with an agent and you don’t know what kind of projects they typically represent clients for then what are you doing there?

How Many Auditions Will I Get Each Month

Nobody knows the answer to this question. It will fluctuate month to month and nobody can guarantee you any number of auditions in any particular month.

Asking this question will show you up as inexperienced, particularly if you’re currently represented.

How Much Money Will I Earn Each Year

Similarly to the above question this is even further away from being predictable. Sort of like asking how much money will I make on my investments in the next 10 years.

Nobody knows the answer to that question and it depends on an awful lot of outside factors.

Who Is Your Biggest Client

Who is your most famous client? Have you made anyone famous? All terrible questions.

A good agent won’t want to single out a client as their most valuable or best and even if they did it has absolutely no relevance to you anyway.

Their success is absolutely no indication that you will share that path.

If you’ve done your research you should know this already anyway.

Who Can You Get Me Seen By

This question is a disaster on more than one level.

Firstly, this shows you haven’t done any research. It’s incredibly easy to look at the CV’s of all the clients on their books that are like you, what projects they have done and who the creatives and casting team were on those projects.

This tells you the answer, it shows you which casting directors the agent has a good relationship that are relevant to you.

Secondly there are many more factors that go into who you get seen by than who your agent is. In theory any agent can get any actor seen by any casting director if that actor matches a part well enough.

You’re basically asking them how much clout they have. The answer is “All of them”.

What information are you really hoping you’ll get out of a question like that? What casting directors an agent can’t get you seen by? Why would you want to force an agent to feel bad like that?

Are you 100% sure that you have all your own self-marketing bases covered? Are you doing every single thing in your power to get yourself seen, or give that agent everything they might possibly need to push you?

If you’re an emerging actor, don’t put the cart before the horse. The credibility of your work, your credits the visibility of your profile is what prevents you from getting seen by big casting directors. Start there first.

What Is Your Commission Structure

This is not a terrible question and is certainly a very important question for you to eventually find out the right answer to however I don’t think it’s a good question for an agent meeting.

Firstly, most agencies charge industry standard rates for each type of job across the board. Usually within a couple of percent of what’s typical for everyone.

Some agencies also waive their commission entirely on low paid projects or even on projects that you secured and handled yourself, although none of the larger agencies would agree to this.

In any case you haven’t been offered representation yet, this is just a meeting. So don’t make it all about money.

Money is important yes, and you are working together to hopefully make eachother money but the agent client relationship needs to be about a deeper connection than that.

So hold back on that question until you’ve had a formal offer, then it’s as easy as an email to clarify any fine details like commission structure, contract term, termination period and all those things which are not nice in-the-room conversations.

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November, 2022

Danny Zuko