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Getting an agent.


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#1 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 01:32 PM

Since I get personal PM's and emails on this subject quite a lot, I thought I'd make it into it's own thread. Perhaps it can answer some questions and be of some interest.

HOW DO I GET ONE?

Simply put, you have to be of interest to them financially. If they think they can make money out of you, they'll be interested. Otherwise not. This normally means you have to already have proven yourself in a commercial sense, or done something so brilliant that they can't afford NOT to have you.

DO I NEED ONE?

Well, once you've got an agent, that doesn't mean you're going to get any jobs from him. It just means you have someone that can negotiate for you when you do get your own jobs (he still wants his 10% on all your jobs, though). Obviously, as you get more succesful you will be offered jobs through your agent, but that's just because you've laid the groundwork yourself and your network/reputation has grown. Success breeds success, unfortunately. When you've finally made it to where you can afford top pay for your own drinks, that's when they're all free. Basically.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF HAVING AN AGENT?

For me, personally, I justify them as negotiators and a buffer zone between me and the client. That way I'm removed from all the nastiness of economical dealings, haggling and can concentrate on just being the friendly, creative DP they wanted. He can also negotiate much harder than I can do with someone I have a realtionship with and probably earns me back those 10% with change, just by being a tougher cookie. Bad cop, good cop kinda thing.

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF HAVING AN AGENT?

At times, when every job YOU bring in HE gets 10% off you start to worry. Is it worth it? This is for you to decide. With my first agent, it took almost a year for them to bring in a job that I hadn't instigated or that wasn't my contact. In those circumstances you do sometimes question the necessity of having one when all they do is cost you money.

BUT CAN YOU REALLY SUCCEED WITHOUT ONE?

Sure. Michael Seresin, BSC, doesn't have one, for instance. The late Adrian Biddle, BSC, didn't have one
either. They did however have poeple taking care of their bookings, though.

PITFALLS?

Agents charge you for marketing. The charge you for sending reels out, making DVD's and sometimes hosting online materials and so on. This is understandable. Just make sure you're not hooking up with a dodgy one who's main source of income is to overcharge you on making reels, for instance. It's not common, but it has happened. Always question a new agent that wants to sign with you; What can you do for ME? It's easy to get very excited when you're new and an agent shows some interest, but don't walk into a honeytrap.

Also, for me personally, it's important that they have a good presence on the web. It's amazing how many really big agencies have either no website, or an appaling one. ICM, Dattner Dispoto, NY Office, Innovative Artists and many others are terrible in this regard - these are huge agencies and I think one could expect more when it comes to the web.

Hope this has been of some help.
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#2 Dominik Muench

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 05:12 AM

that was great, thank you.


now i just need to find one :)
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#3 Sean Azze

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Posted 09 April 2006 - 12:22 AM

Mr. Frisch,

Throughout your post the figure you mention is 10%. I'm an aspiring music video director (not a Dp) who is in talks with a gentleman right now who potentially could be my agent once I'm done building my reel up. He manages the first artist I directed a video for, and after knowing him for a few months, I consider him something of a friend.

That puts me in an uncomfortable position because after perusing a sample contract of his, I see that he expects a 20% commission from his work. Is that way over the norm, or do different rules apply to directors? Should I try to negotiate him down to 10? Maybe 15 as a happy medium? What should I do?

Thanks
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 09 April 2006 - 05:29 AM

Hi,

I think it works something like this: if you want one, you can't get one; they will know you need them before you do, and if you need one, you've probably already got one.

Black art, I'm telling you...

Phil
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#5 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 09 April 2006 - 05:53 AM

Most straight agents are fixed at 10%. My agent tried to get 15% but had to give up that because it was non-standard and wasn't compatible with the rest of the world. But if your agent is also your "manager", then other sums could be involved.
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#6 Sean Azze

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Posted 09 April 2006 - 12:06 PM

But if your agent is also your "manager", then other sums could be involved.



How does a manager differ from an agent?
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#7 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 09 April 2006 - 12:50 PM

Since I get personal PM's and emails on this subject quite a lot, I thought I'd make it into it's own thread. Perhaps it can answer some questions and be of some interest.

HOW DO I GET ONE?

Simply put, you have to be of interest to them financially. If they think they can make money out of you, they'll be interested. Otherwise not. This normally means you have to already have proven yourself in a commercial sense, or done something so brilliant that they can't afford NOT to have you.

DO I NEED ONE?

Well, once you've got an agent, that doesn't mean you're going to get any jobs from him. It just means you have someone that can negotiate for you when you do get your own jobs (he still wants his 10% on all your jobs, though). Obviously, as you get more succesful you will be offered jobs through your agent, but that's just because you've laid the groundwork yourself and your network/reputation has grown. Success breeds success, unfortunately. When you've finally made it to where you can afford top pay for your own drinks, that's when they're all free. Basically.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF HAVING AN AGENT?

For me, personally, I justify them as negotiators and a buffer zone between me and the client. That way I'm removed from all the nastiness of economical dealings, haggling and can concentrate on just being the friendly, creative DP they wanted. He can also negotiate much harder than I can do with someone I have a realtionship with and probably earns me back those 10% with change, just by being a tougher cookie. Bad cop, good cop kinda thing.

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF HAVING AN AGENT?

At times, when every job YOU bring in HE gets 10% off you start to worry. Is it worth it? This is for you to decide. With my first agent, it took almost a year for them to bring in a job that I hadn't instigated or that wasn't my contact. In those circumstances you do sometimes question the necessity of having one when all they do is cost you money.

BUT CAN YOU REALLY SUCCEED WITHOUT ONE?

Sure. Michael Seresin, BSC, doesn't have one, for instance. The late Adrian Biddle, BSC, didn't have one
either. They did however have poeple taking care of their bookings, though.

PITFALLS?

Agents charge you for marketing. The charge you for sending reels out, making DVD's and sometimes hosting online materials and so on. This is understandable. Just make sure you're not hooking up with a dodgy one who's main source of income is to overcharge you on making reels, for instance. It's not common, but it has happened. Always question a new agent that wants to sign with you; What can you do for ME? It's easy to get very excited when you're new and an agent shows some interest, but don't walk into a honeytrap.

Also, for me personally, it's important that they have a good presence on the web. It's amazing how many really big agencies have either no website, or an appaling one. ICM, Dattner Dispoto, NY Office, Innovative Artists and many others are terrible in this regard - these are huge agencies and I think one could expect more when it comes to the web.

Hope this has been of some help.


Couldn't have said it better myself. I don't know about your comment regarding a web presence though. I am with ICM now and was with Dattner Dispoto before that. As you say, their web presence is limited to non-existent. But they really don't need one. The people that are going to those agencies know the caliber of clients they have and would always much rather see a reel than a web clip. However, most agencies have 'private' sites where client work can be accessed for people who need an immediate booking or who are overseas and can't wait for a reel.

Furthermore, no respected agent wants buyers "shopping" for DPs on a website. Agents provde an important service by selling and providing the best DP for the project. They need a chance to do that and want people to talk to them before forming their own opinions of their clients via a website.

I think it is a good idea agencies do little more than list who they represent on a website. It should be up to the client is they want their own website to showcase their talents.
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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 09 April 2006 - 01:10 PM

Hi,

That sounds very much like the agents are trying to forestall their own obsolescence in the face of new technology!

Phil
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#9 Stephen Williams

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Posted 09 April 2006 - 01:20 PM

Hi,

That sounds very much like the agents are trying to forestall their own obsolescence in the face of new technology!

Phil


Hi Phil,

An agent will hopefully get his DP's a higher rate than they would get dealing direct. So I can see an advantage, I know how hard it is negotiating with people I know and like.

Stephen
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#10 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 09 April 2006 - 03:45 PM

Couldn't have said it better myself. I don't know about your comment regarding a web presence though. I am with ICM now and was with Dattner Dispoto before that. As you say, their web presence is limited to non-existent. But they really don't need one. The people that are going to those agencies know the caliber of clients they have and would always much rather see a reel than a web clip. However, most agencies have 'private' sites where client work can be accessed for people who need an immediate booking or who are overseas and can't wait for a reel.

Furthermore, no respected agent wants buyers "shopping" for DPs on a website. Agents provde an important service by selling and providing the best DP for the project. They need a chance to do that and want people to talk to them before forming their own opinions of their clients via a website.

I think it is a good idea agencies do little more than list who they represent on a website. It should be up to the client is they want their own website to showcase their talents.


It's a bit cloak and dagger, though. I've gotten quite a bit of work from my website where there hasn't been time to send any reels, or it's simply wasn't practical (like in many of the eastern countries where postal delivery takes anything from 5 years to a lifetime). I hope that in the future, I don't have to do DVD's at all - I think the process is antiquated and inefficient. The minute you send one out, it's already obsolete. This would be fine if the clients didn't know this too, "requesting" a new one for every job you're considered for. That amounts to a lot of DVD's that just end up in a landfill somehwere. And it keeps me busy constantly having to update both my website and the bloody DVD - it's a nuisance.

And at the end of the day, it's not like agents have a bunch of scripts for lucrative commercials they just dole out to their clients, they have to get the jobs IN in the first place. The only way to do so is to market yourself and make people aware of what kind of goods you have to offer. And how can you do that if you don't even want to reveal your roster?

Also, the American agents are more paranoid about so called "sniping", i.e. other agents stealing their talent. Therefore they probably are a bit more reluctant to reveal their roster. In England sniping rarely occurs. Almost all the non-American agents have functioning and sometimes even good websites.
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Tai Audio

FJS International, LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

Aerial Filmworks

Visual Products

The Slider

Ritter Battery

Metropolis Post

Glidecam

Willys Widgets

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Opal

Paralinx LLC

Wooden Camera

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineLab

CineTape