Michigan Actors Studio
How to get an Agent in Michigan
Updated: Oct 14, 2022
This blog post will cover getting an agent in Michigan; we’ll follow up with another one about getting an agent in the major markets (Los Angeles, NYC, Chicago, Atlanta).
The first step to getting an agent is being prepared. But what does that mean, exactly?
Before you start reaching out to agents, it’s important to educate yourself about the market. The agents in Michigan work differently than they do in other places - first of all, they are not exclusive. This means that you can work with all of the agencies in town - you don’t need to pick and choose. In fact, if you’re really looking to book work in film, television, and industrial films (training for corporations) or voice over you really should be signed with all of them.
In Southeastern Michigan, there are three SAG/AFTRA franchised unions: The iGroup, Productions Plus, and Republic Talent Corporation (a relatively new player located in Fenton). You always want to check and make sure an agency is SAG/AFTRA-franchised before you approach them. This means essentially that they are approved by the Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (the film union), and they agree to follow their rules. You do NOT have to be in the union to sign with a SAG/AFTRA-franchised agency. There are several things that agencies agree to in order to receive this designation. They only charge 10%-20% of each gig you book with NO upfront fees. If an agency tries to charge you a fee, run fast in the other direction. You should never EVER pay an agency to represent you. Legit agents only take a percentage of the money you make on gigs you book through them (meaning they got you the audition and negotiated your contract. They will receive your payment, take out their fee and send you the rest within 90 days of the end of the gig). Any upfront charges (for ANYTHING) are a serious red flag.
"You should never EVER pay an agency to represent you."
Signing with them is relatively easy - they all have very clear submission guidelines on their websites. Because they are large agencies and not cultivating a small group of actors, the odds are better for you to get signed than they would be in a larger market. Despite that fact, submitting doesn’t mean you will automatically be accepted. Lucky for you, there are things you can do to increase your odds:
Present yourself well
On a professional set, there is not a lot of time for hand-holding; the producers/director will expect you to have a working knowledge of the craft of acting. That means the ability to take direction and the skills to be able to create the character or vibe that they’re looking for without a lot of prep time and without them walking you through it. Even if you are a natural talent, if your resume does not include any training the agency is taking on a bigger risk by signing you. Training with reputable professionals shows the agents that you have invested time and money in the craft of acting and that you are serious about it. It’s easy to sit and watch your favorite tv show and say “That’s easy, I could do that!” but if you don’t have any training, even if you have natural talent and can give a good performance, you don’t have the craft and skills to get you through difficulties that may pop up on a set. Acting classes also give you the skills you need to feel confident in auditions and that’s really important. Most actors get nervous in auditions, but having a foundation in the craft of acting can give you things to focus on to keep your mind off of your nerves and on telling the story.
"I recommend doing some sort of acting class, something that can eventually get you in front of an agent or a manager, and PRACTICE is very important" - Bridgit Mendler
It’s the classic conundrum: you need an agent to book films, but you need to have booked films to get an agent. That’s not entirely true - there is a lot of work available out there that is perfect for beginners that do not require representation to book. Student films are the ideal way to start. Because the director (and usually crew) are students, they are learning too. The stakes are much lower than they would be on a professional film shoot. You get to see the way things work on a set, and if you haven’t had a class specifically in film, it’s an invaluable way to learn the technique of acting for the camera. Acting for the camera is not terribly difficult, but it is very specific, and there’s really no substitute for just doing it.
How you come across to the agents is an important and often overlooked aspect of getting representation. You need to have an idea of your type and what roles you will play and have materials that reflect that. (See our last blog post about knowing your type for more information about this important topic). A headshot that is simple, professional, and shows you as you are when you walk in the room is the first step to getting an interview with an agent. Don’t worry if your resume is sparse - the agent will understand that you’re new to the business. Make sure you make good use of the “Special Skills” section of your resume! This can help the agent get to know you better and also get a better feel for the types of roles you would be cast in. Anything that you do can be put in that section.
As previously mentioned, all three of these agencies have submission guidelines on their websites. Make sure you follow these EXACTLY. It’s your first test, really. If you can’t follow directions on a submission to an agent, how can they be sure that you will follow directions on a set?
I reached out to all three of these agencies as I was writing this to see if they had any advice for new actors, and I heard back from Kathy Reason, the New Talent Director at the iGroup. She had the following advice:
“As far as “breaking into the business”, there are always opportunities for folks with an interesting look and the will to work hard. We love talent that we can count on! Talent needs to be confident in front of a camera with movement and if they have script, the ability to articulate with confidence. They should be able to take direction well and be fine with being on set for long periods of time and still appear to have fresh energy. Talent may begin as an “extra” and work their way up, as they gain experience. I also advise talent to have “thick skin”. Unfortunately, rejection is a big part of the industry. Talent may be told “no” a multitude of times, but then a “yes” can mean the world! So much of what we do in the industry is subjective and dependent on the vision of the client. The control a talent has is to be prepared, patient and resilient.”
If you don’t get signed the first time, don’t let that discourage you. If the agent gives you feedback like you need a new headshot, or you need to get some training, make sure you do those things before you submit to them again. They work with actors every day and know what it takes to make an actor more attractive to clients. Every professional actor has a list of rejections a mile long; learning how to bounce back better is the key to a successful career in the industry.
ATTENTION METRO DETROIT ACTORS!
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Big Congratulations to our very own Certificate Program graduate RYAN KEN on their EMMY win!!!!!
Ryan won Outstanding Writer for a Variety Series for their very first year as a writer on “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”.
Congratulations to MAS alum Marie Muhammad who is appearing in 2 shows!
She can currently be seen at the Ringwald in Ferndale in “Plot Points in Our Sexual Development” http://www.theringwald.com/productions/plot-points-our-sexual-development/
and coming up in the highly anticipated “Death of a Salesman” at Flint Repertory Theatre.
Fall classes are filling up fast!
Join us for a fun semester of acting, voice over classes, and Kids & Teens classes! Registration is now OPEN!
Are you ready for representation?
If you’re at that point in your training where you feel ready to get out there and start auditioning, SAG-franchised agency The iGroup located in Metro Detroit is always accepting submissions.
Check out this link for explicit instructions on how to submit for representation: