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Approaching agents for DP representation.


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#1 Sing Howe Yam

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 11:27 PM

So I've been wondering what the etiquette is to finding a agent to rep a DP. Is it one of those situations where you need to have that body of work or something that created buzz and then they come? Or is it common practice for DP's to basically go shop around and find an agent?

I'm assuming either way could work, nice to hear the stories from some other DP's and how they got repped.

Thanks
Sing
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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 04:29 PM

Why do you want one? Besides taking 10% of your earnings, what do you think they'll do for you?

R,
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#3 Paul Maibaum ASC

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 01:10 PM

One needs to have a decent body of work and a reel to show for it before most agents will entertain signing an "up and coming" Director of Photography.
I think that most agents who represent Directors of Photography will be happy to have a phone conversation with a legitimate Director of Photography who is looking for representation.
I would add that agents rarely find jobs for their clients, they earn their 10% by being the negotiator.
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#4 Gustavo Brum

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 12:04 AM

If you think an agent does not brings you job (or rarely..) its time to change your agent...
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#5 Tom Jensen

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 12:14 AM

So I've been wondering what the etiquette is to finding a agent to rep a DP. Is it one of those situations where you need to have that body of work or something that created buzz and then they come? Or is it common practice for DP's to basically go shop around and find an agent?

I'm assuming either way could work, nice to hear the stories from some other DP's and how they got repped.

Thanks
Sing

Ok, here's how it works. You take your reel to an agent and he looks at it. If he likes what he sees, he'll sign you. If he doesn't, off you go. Most likely he will tell you that he has a hundred DP's that aren't working. OK, so your most recent film is off the hook as the kids say or once did. Now they're interested in the DP du jur and he signs you. After not getting you any work, you end up at his Christmas party. You see him and say hi and he gives you the "who the f*&k are you look and asks, "who the f87k are you?" You stand a better chance finding work if you pound the pavement yourself. Directors and producers are the two people who put DP's to work. The agent is just a middlemen. Agents like DP's with a lot of experience because they are better sells so he is guaranteed a cut.

Edited by Tom Jensen, 08 November 2010 - 12:17 AM.

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#6 Henry Chan

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 05:19 AM

So I've been wondering what the etiquette is to finding a agent to rep a DP. Is it one of those situations where you need to have that body of work or something that created buzz and then they come? Or is it common practice for DP's to basically go shop around and find an agent?

I'm assuming either way could work, nice to hear the stories from some other DP's and how they got repped.

Thanks
Sing



I got a so call big time agent representing me, so as many other DP out there. Question is where is he finding jobs for all of us? So far, no agent ever find me a job in all these years be honest, cut 10%. every check I get. They are good at making deal really, but most producers hated agents. I've seen them passing the phone around when come to making deals.
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#7 Richard Boddington

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 12:16 AM

I called up a DP rep once, he sent me a box of 50 DVDs. They are pretty much useless when it comes to helping you find any work.

And they may succeed in causing a producer to pass you over if your agent turns out to be a giant tool.

R,
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#8 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 03:35 AM

I'll repost an entry I did in the Professionals Forum:

It's good that you have the informed view that an agent would legitimize you, but not really give you much work. This is certainly true - anyone who expects agents to sit on a pile of work that they then dole out accordingly to new signees is in for a rude awakening. After I signed with my first agent, it took years before a job came solely though them - it was all my own work in the beginning. Obviously, as you get more experienced and have more stuff on the reel that people have seen (this is way more important than if it's shot well), the task of selling you becomes easier. Now, most of my work is through my agent.

It's important to try to see yourself from an agents point of view: they're in this business to sell talent. Just like a car salesman, they will want to sell cars that people want, not try to flog some impossible import than no one has heard of. Their work goes up exponentially with an unknown, and the monetary rewards are non-existent (for a new DP). So why have to work 100 times harder for something, when you could just sell BMW's?

If I may share some of my experiences: Agents are just like you and me, human beings (although some might argue this). And if you're not available, out of sight, get bad feedback from clients, naggy, not someone they like, then you're name is not going to pop into their mouth when that odd client calls looking to work with someone new. I have had a US agent for 3 years now, but since I chose to base myself mainly in England for the first years, not much came through the US. The odd job here and then, but nothing sustainable. When I decided to move here, it was like the floodgates opened. All of a sudden they really sold me. Now the reverse is happening in the UK (where I'm well established) - now that I'm in LA all the time, they don't really sell that hard, even though they say they do. So, out of sight, out of mind. And you can only really serve one market at a time - even though you could physically cover the whole world on short notice, the reality is that all business is local in a way. I don't know where you live, but if it's too far away from wherever their main business is, then that will be a problem even if you have an agent.

I always paraphrase a Swedish popstar in regards to agents: "When you can finally afford to buy your own drinks, that's when they're all free". That's exactly how it is. When you don't need them to sell you anymore, that's when they finally can do so.

An agent will find you one day, until then enjoy not having one!
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#9 Alexander Disenhof

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 02:24 AM

I'll repost an entry I did in the Professionals Forum:

It's good that you have the informed view that an agent would legitimize you, but not really give you much work. This is certainly true - anyone who expects agents to sit on a pile of work that they then dole out accordingly to new signees is in for a rude awakening. After I signed with my first agent, it took years before a job came solely though them - it was all my own work in the beginning. Obviously, as you get more experienced and have more stuff on the reel that people have seen (this is way more important than if it's shot well), the task of selling you becomes easier. Now, most of my work is through my agent.

It's important to try to see yourself from an agents point of view: they're in this business to sell talent. Just like a car salesman, they will want to sell cars that people want, not try to flog some impossible import than no one has heard of. They're work goes up exponentially with an unknown, and the monetary rewards are non-existent (for a new DP). So why have to work 100 times harder for something, when you could just sell BMW's?

If I may share some of my experiences: Agents are just like you and me, human beings (although some might argue this). And if you're not available, out of sight, get bad feedback from clients, naggy, not someone they like, then you're name is not going to pop into their mouth when that odd client calls looking to work with someone new. I have had a US agent for 3 years now, but since I chose to base myself mainly in England for the first years, not much came through the US. The odd job here and then, but nothing sustainable. When I decided to move here, it was like the floodgates opened. All of a sudden they really sold me. Now the reverse is happening in the UK (where I'm well established) - now that I'm in LA all the time, they don't really sell that hard, even though they say they do. So out of sight, out of mind. And you can only really serve one market at a time - even though you could physically cover the whole world on short notice, the reality is that all business is local in a way. I don't know where you live, but if it's too far away from wherever they're main business is, then that will be a problem even if you have an agent.

I always paraphrase a Swedish popstar in regards to agents: "When you can finally afford to buy your own drinks, that's when they're all free". That's exactly how it is. When you don't need them to sell you anymore, that's when they finally can do so.

An agent will find you one day, until then enjoy not having one!



Adam, thank you so much for your honest and thorough answer. I'm dealing with some decisions about whether to get an agent or not here in LA and your answer was illuminating and very helpful for me. Thanks

Alex
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#10 Tania Freimuth

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 04:13 AM

Adam, thank you so much for your honest and thorough answer. I'm dealing with some decisions about whether to get an agent or not here in LA and your answer was illuminating and very helpful for me. Thanks

Alex


I'd like to second that, thank you. I will be sticking to plan A for a while longer pounding the streets and pressing flesh.
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#11 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 08:18 AM

There's a very well known, very successful DP working in Hollywood who wanted to begin directing for a living instead. He worked hard to convince studios and Producers he had worked with before to allow him to direct a movie. During that time, he also wanted an Agent to represent ONLY the directing portion of his career. He already had an Agent to represent him for the camerawork, but he wanted a separate Agent to exclusively handle the Directing work. The last I checked, he never found any takers. All of the Agents he interviewed wouldn't take him unless they could have the DP work as well. He didn't want that because those Agents would most certainly sit back and take the guaranteed bigger paycheck from his established DP career instead of lifting a finger to help him develop the new directing work.

Much like Hollywood unions, Agents are not in the business of GETTING people work. Their primary purpose is to negotiate contracts with studios and Producers. An Agent might give you more credibility, which could help, but I've heard enough anecdotal tales of the opposite. Lower level projects get scared away by a DP who has an Agent because they assume it'll cost them more. Unless you've got a skill that makes you irreplaceable or your best buds with the Producer or Director, an Agent taking 10% of your earnings won't really come in handy until you're making bigger movies.
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#12 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 11:02 AM

One of the quickest ways to end a successful career as a DP, is to to start directing. I've seen it a million times. You may call it insecurity or even childish, but most directors do not want to use a DP that's also a director and/or vying for the same potential projects on set. So unless one is pretty sure that the directing bit will take off or that's something one really wants to do, I'd think twice about it. I certainly have zero interest in directing - I already direct through my Jedi mind tricks vicariously anyway :P Besides, DP's have the best job on set - why would anyone ever want to change?
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#13 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 12:57 PM

Some of the best jobs I've ever done were music videos where I operated steadicam and did lighting too. I turned up, the assistant turned up with the rig, I worked, I went home on the train unencumbered by equipment. Trying to operate and light at the same time is dismal, but even that failed to put a damper on the day (and I'm not even a real steadicam operator or anything like a director of photography). So yes, it can be fun; trying to get paid to do that sort of work, however, is next to impossible.

I have been told I should get an agent and asked if I have one (I hasten to add, by credulous fools who grotesquely overestimated my abilities); I have, however, never actually been contacted by one, and this is a situation where they will call you if they're interested. There are a couple of hundred DPs for every job in the UK and most agencies will be flooded with unemployed crew.
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