Wednesday, September 09, 2009

So what the heck do you need an agent for?

Did you ever think about why talent agents or managers really exist? Is it because someone wanted to make a lot of money? TRUST ME that is not the reason (uh- I drive a 3 year old Ford There are times I think I must be some kind of masochist. This is often a very thankless job. This is not me whining about my job because it is really a great job that I feel fortunate to be able to do- this is my preamble to what and why I do what I do and why it is sometimes necessary to have an agent. Can you get work without and agent? SURE. Can you buy a car without going to a dealer? YUP. Can you buy jewelry without going to a jewelry store? Yes again. You can get what you want pretty much anywhere you want it these days without going through conventional means but sometimes the price that you pay for this is that you don't have professional guidance. Not everyone needs professional counsel but most people DO. The average person does not know what fair payment for a day on set for a TV commercial is. They also don't know to ask "how long is this going to run". Why is that important? Because if you don't ask it can interfere with future work. If an ad you did is going to run "in perpetuity" (that means basically until Christ comes back) then you may never get hired again to do another TV commercial because you will be known as the guy or girl in that forever running OTHER commercial. Now that is all well and good if you got paid substantially for that aforementioned OTHER commercial but if you picked up the gig on Craig's list and made 250.00 then just shot yourself in the foot. You still with me? If you had a good, experienced agent they could have negotiated for time limits or better pay etc. That is the reason much of this stuff is out there listed in the first place. I can't tell you how many times new talent or even season talent have come to me and said they have done a commercial and now it is running and they don't know if and when it will ever be pulled. The only way I can promote them is in my other markets. I have also had new talent actually boast of getting these jobs thinking it will boost their careers when they have actually sunk it before it began- because that is how it was "sold" to them.
This is all particularly disturbing when it comes to kids in advertising. There are actually laws in place that protect children in NYS from being underpaid in advertising. (you can look this up on the NYS dept of labor's web site) If you want to hire children in NYS you have to be certified to do so as we are. I heard of a company that hired children to do an all day TV commercial shoot for a local company (who I won't name) and then shot stills for all of their print ads and paid the kids 60.00. 60.00 total. Not only is this an unfair and ridiculous rate by anyone's standards, no one on that set was certified and I think there was a magnet stuck to the bottoms of their moral compasses as well. Often parents are so excited to see their kids in print or on TV that they don't think about anything else. This is not necessarily their fault- they just want to see thier kids in print or where ever, and the money doesn't matter to them but the big picture is they have just allowed a company to exploit thier children's image and other children's images and PERPETUATE a wrong.

There are times when small budget jobs come up or national companies are looking for kids for a big ad and the pay is small, but then there are times when companies are looking to simply get away with something and counting on the people not knowing any better. This is why sometimes you just need a agent or manager and 20% is well worth it to protect your image and your rights.
My job is to constantly walk the line between getting my clients what they need while protecting my models images for the short term and the long term. They are all like my children- it sounds corny but it's true. I would not have been doing this for ten years if I didn't think so. There are other things I could be doing....they might even have gotten me a better car! LOL


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