View Full Version : Etiquette to Agents for non-paying roles?

01-20-2006, 11:07 AM
I'm casting a short film that is non-paying (no pay but food, credit, and copy provided). We posted casting calls on several local casting sites and got a very good response so far.

We're calling all those who indicated an interest by email response. Most have given us direct contact phone info. But a few have given us their agent's phone.

I've always assumed agents work for money. But this is a non-paying gig, so what's the etiquette here? :undecided

If the actor gave us their agent as a contact, can we assume that agents DO book their talent to non-paying gigs from time to time (and expect no pay for doing so), such as when the audition is for something that might be useful to the actor's resume later on?

Please advise! This is the first time we're dealing with actor agents.

01-20-2006, 12:44 PM
Just tell 'em what you're doing. Agent understand (and hate) no-pay gigs, but sometimes it can benefit them; primarily if they think you know what you're doing and their actors will get some valuable experience on how to act on set. When an agent sends a completely "green" actor on a paying gig, they're taking a big risk that the actor won't embarrass them. If they can use your production to get some assurance that the actor won't embarrass them on a paying gig, that can be of some value to them.

But that means you'll be getting green actors from that agent.

01-20-2006, 12:46 PM
Thanks Barry!

01-31-2006, 01:07 PM
I came across something similar when I was casting something last summer. I was just honest with them initially- saying hey I don't have any money, if they wanted to audition after that, fine.
I just put them all in a different stack- and made sure to let them know what they were deling with.

One guy said the honesty was refreshing. And that he did a whole gig expecting to get paid, but never did. It was all just a miscommunication thing rather than anything malicious, but he said he felt pretty crummy after taking off work to be in the guys student film.

So honesty IS the best policy.

01-31-2006, 07:17 PM
In my experience actors working on a free project who want you to speak with their agent are usually green -- at least on projects taking only a day or two. The more experienced actors are more comfortable taking things into their own hands, especially since many agents will advise them to never work for free. This, of course, doesn't answer the question of what to do when an actor asks you to contact their agent...

And the above responses are correct. Be honest and upfront, and be competent. The worst that can happen is you make a decent contact for later on.

I'd just be wary of the agents who themselves are green who begin making demands and throwing their perceived weight around - they can ruin things for the actor in the long run.

02-02-2006, 07:21 AM
In my experience, sometimes actors will respond to an ad (that advertises the role as non-paying) with their agents' numbers. When I've called their agents, they usually just give me the actor's personal contact number, since the agents I've talked to don't book their talent for non-paying gigs. Nothing bad came of it though, I just had to make two phone calls.

02-18-2006, 11:00 AM
Another thing to keep in mind is, not all agents are serious business people who cares for their clients. Be careful not to underestimate who you will be talking to, but in my experience I have had actors who have been sent by their agent just so that the actor feels that their money is being put to work. Also, many actors just want to have a sense of importance and wants to impress you with an "agent" when it could just be a friend. So my advise is, besides being careful to underestimate the agent, and ask question to make sure they know what they are doing and not going to waste your time.