Getting Repped: Do You Need Representation to Break into Hollywood? | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

Getting Repped: Do You Need Representation to Break into Hollywood?

When you’re starting your career in the entertainment industry, chances are you have been told by your peers that if you want to successfully break into the industry ― whether as an actor, director, producer, or writer ― that getting representation is your best armor to protect yourself from the madness and chaos of the industry’s politics.

For emerging filmmakers, this could be a classic case of Catch-22, which simply means that you need the help of an agent or manager to get work opportunities, but to get representation means that you must have worked already or earned your place in the industry. To lift off some of the weight on your shoulders, let’s explore the role of agents and managers, how you can find one to represent you, and the benefits of getting representation.

Agents vs. Managers

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of things, let’s get some concepts defined and sorted out. Representation in the entertainment industry means you have an agent or manager who serves as the first line of defense that bridges the gap between the studio/production company and you, the talent.

An agent is responsible for finding their clients opportunities either by getting them into the right rooms, connecting them with key people, exposing their work, finding them writing assignments or projects as well as negotiating their project contracts and deals. On the other hand, a manager plays a more active role in guiding and developing their clients’ career paths. Managers are mostly in it for the long haul and will stand by their clients every step of the way as they navigate through their careers and ensure that their decisions are helping them reach their overall goals. They will motivate, inspire, and help strategize their clients’ career moves.

While managers and agents play a pivotal role in their client’s success, they have primary differences in terms of their capabilities and limitations that one should be aware of. In the state of California, agents are required to abide by particular laws and regulations such as not being allowed to produce projects and they cannot demand more than a 10% commission from their clients.

Having an agent and/or manager will serve as a valuable resource for you to find work opportunities

Meanwhile, managers are not regulated by any governing body or law as of yet. Therefore, they have more control over what percentage they get from their clients. However, it’s worth noting that managers cannot legally and directly negotiate deals on behalf of their clients but they can have a say on it with the help of an entertainment lawyer or an agent. They are also not eligible to submit material on behalf of their client unless they are submitting it as a producer for consideration at a studio or production company.

Nowadays, most talents prefer having both an agent and a manager to get the most out of their careers. Is it required to have one? The simple answer is no. Although, if you are serious about making a name for yourself and making your passions in life a full-time job, then having an agent and/or manager will serve as a valuable resource for you to find work opportunities, negotiate the best deals, sell your projects, and open the right doors for you. Even though most would say it’s not required to have one, there’s also a gray area wherein studios or production companies will not take any unsolicited material or even book a meeting with you unless it goes through a trusted middleman such as an agent or manager. Therefore, you’ll most likely reap the benefits of having one especially when you’re starting out in the industry.

Where Do I Find Them and How Do I Get One to Represent Me?

This has always been a million-dollar question for most emerging filmmakers. First of all, agents and managers are not hiding in the shadows. In fact, you regularly bump into one as they run around town hustling on behalf of their clients. They can also easily be found as they mostly work for the big three agencies known as Creatives Arts Agency (CAA), William Morris Endeavor (WME), and United Talent Agency (UTA). You can meet most of them in Hollywood parties, networking events, screenwriting contests, improv sessions, and film festivals.

Finding them is not the problem, but getting one to invest in you and take you on for the ride is where the challenge lies. The first step is knowing what kind of agent you need for your career. If you’re a screenwriter, a literary agent is someone you need to be looking for. While an actor or director must be looking for a talent agent who can represent them. This distinction matters to your career advancement because they will have the correct and intensive knowledge as well as network to lead you to the right opportunities.

So, how do you get one to represent you? There is no one answer to this conundrum. Some get representation because they are well-connected with the right people in the industry or some are friends back in film school or met at a party. However, one thing’s for sure is that agents and managers are always on the lookout for remarkable and talented filmmakers or creatives who are serious about their craft.

Most emerging filmmakers worry about finding representation even if they haven’t really worked on their craft or their portfolio long enough for them to get someone’s attention. Hold on to the fact that that these agents and managers are always looking for new clients to take and you will definitely have one when you’re ready. It also doesn’t matter where you are or how far you are from the entertainment capital of the world because they will certainly find you and fight to win you over if you have proven that you have the talent, skills, and personality of a creative who belongs in the big leagues. The bottom line is to focus on your craft by working on a lot of projects, writing numerous spec scripts, or creating your own content. When you let your art speak for itself and let your personality shine through, rest assured that the people you need will effortlessly come to you.

Utilizing these social media platforms as an emerging filmmaker looking for representation is an effective way to get yourself out of that Catch-22

Also, find consolation in the fact that agents and managers must also prove themselves to you in a way that would make you feel that they have your best interests and long-term plans at heart. Before you settle with an agent, find out about their track record, network, other successful people they represent, initial thoughts on your projects and how they can sell them, strategy on how they can help you advance your career, and their long-term plans with you. It’s a collaborative and joint effort that directly affects the outcome for both parties involved. In short, they need you as much as you need them.

Today, most filmmakers, artists, and content creators have gradually steered away from the traditional ways of breaking into the entertainment industry. Most have flocked to social media platforms to get themselves and their work out for the world to see. This serves as their creative portfolio that agents, managers, producers, and talent scouts are now religiously looking into to find the next big hit. Utilizing these social media platforms as an emerging filmmaker looking for representation is an effective way to get yourself out of that Catch-22 dilemma that most encounter when starting out. At the end of the day, the most important part is to focus on improving your craft, building your network, and grabbing every opportunity to get your name out there ― and the rest will follow.

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