What Does A Talent Agent, Talent Manager & Casting Director Do?

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by David Petro

TALENT AGENT:

Obtaining a talent agent is one of the most important steps in a performer’s career. A talent agent works for a talent agency where they use their contacts to arrange auditions for the actors represented by the agency. Actors need a talent agent to survive. A talent agent is able to provide an actor with auditions they would not otherwise know about. Without the appropriate industry auditions, an actor’s career will go nowhere. Securing auditions for the performer is the main job of the talent agent.

Agents spend most of the day on the phones, looking through the “breakdowns” (a daily listing of all the acting roles the studios/casting directors are seeking) and submitting pictures to casting directors, hoping to get you in on an audition. If an agent works hard for you, they may be able to get frequent auditions for you. This is a good thing because the more acting auditions you go on, the better chance you’ll have of getting a part. Agents also negotiate contracts and how much money you get if you do get an acting role. However, most of the days are spent trying to get you the audition.

An actor should never pay a talent agent up front for auditions or representation. A legitimate talent agent should receive a 10 to 15% commission only from the work they find the actor. A talent agent should never receive any percentage above fifteen percent.

TALENT MANAGER:

A talent manager’s focus is more on managing an actor’s career than with arranging auditions. Talent managers keep in close touch with talent agents to ensure a shared vision for the actor, but a manager stays mostly on the management end of the actor’s career. Sometimes a talent manager may set up an audition for an actor, but that is not their focus. A talent manager will not guarantee auditions for an actor. A talent manager handles public relations, business matters, and helps to make a career plan and keeps the actor on a path toward success. Most actors cannot juggle the acting demands as their fame and careers grow, interviews, and appearances that come with a prominent career. That is where a talent manager comes in.

Talent managers invest a great deal of time and energy into an actor’s potential,
and into a long-term career for their clients, long before the actor has a track record of booking consistently. They typically work with their clients over a period of a number of years. They tend to genuinely care about their clients, almost like a family, and protect their clients from the harmful situations that may be encountered in the dog-eat-dog world of show business. A personal manager is the one who believes in and keeps fighting for a client when all others have given up. The following are some things that many talent managers may also do:

  • Prepare talent for meetings with potential talent agencies
  • Arrange introductions to agents
  • Help talent decide on a talent agency for representation
  • Advise talent on acting classes and coaching
  • Help talent choose a good photographer and pick out headshots
  • Promote talent to industry professionals to try to help talent get auditions
  • Prepare resume or advise talent on preparation of a resume
  • Help make any and all decisions related to talent’s career
  • Answer questions on anything related to a career in show business

Typically a talent manger receives 15-20%. The differences between a talent agent and a talent manager vary, but their responsibilities are geared toward the same goal… advancing an actor’s career and getting the actor more acting jobs so the actors makes more money. A good manager will help shape the direction an actor goes so as to generate the most revenue.

The bottom line is that when an actor succeeds and gets paid, everybody gets paid. Both talent agents and talent managers will work hard to make that happen.

CASTING DIRECTORS:

A casting director is a middleman/middlewoman who finds the actors needed to fill roles in movies, TV shows, theatrical productions, commercials or even corporate and music videos. A casting director works for the creative team, not the actor or performer. The studio, producers, director and writers are on one side, and the actors and talent agents on the other — with the casting director in the middle. ”

A casting director’s responsibilities extend beyond contacting actors or agents and holding auditions. Casting directors assemble casts that may include hundreds of actors, negotiate deals with the actors’ agents and manage the contracts once the actors have signed.

Casting directors is involved in pre-production and has the following responsibilities:

  • Meets with the producers, the director and possibly the writer to understand the project
  • Meets with the production accountant for information about the casting budget, the money that’ll be used to pay the actors
  • Reads the script and make notes about all the speaking parts
  • Creates a list of possible actors, in preferred order, for the most important parts first
  • Contacts the actors or their agents to determine their availability
  • Provides the list to the producers and director to make their decision Lead actors may not be asked to audition
  • Prepares lists of actors and production schedule for supporting and more minor actors
  • Makes appointments for auditions or readings with the available actors
  • Provides information about available parts to talent agencies and lists opportunities with Breakdown Services, a company that maintains a daily list of acting opportunities
  • Conducts the auditions
  • Makes recommendations, based on auditions, for each speaking part The director and producers make the final selections
  • Negotiates contracts with the actors’ agents, keeping an eye on the casting budget
  • Issues casting calls for minor acting parts and conducts those auditions
  • Acts as a liaison between the director and the actors, once contracts are signed
  • Finds replacements, as needed, during production for actors who can’t fulfill their contracts

 

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