Creating passionate, confident kids

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an agent and do I need one?

Essentially, an agent is a company that aims to find work in film and television for its clients. Your agent pays to receive notification or ‘a brief’ of any roles that are available either in films, TV dramas and commercials. They then look at the clients that they have on their books and contact any that they think are suitable for the role. These actors are then asked to go and visit a casting director and audition for the role.

Once you win a role, your agent will act on your behalf when dealing with the production company. They will negotiate contracts and pay rates, and help you should you have any issues or concerns during the shoot. 

You do not HAVE to have an agent to get involved in the film and television industry. You can work as what’s called a ‘freelance actor’  which essentially means that you represent yourself. 

You can maintain contact with casting directors by sending them your headshot and resume every four to five months. You can also sign up for databases like AT2 and Showcast (see explanation below) without an agent.

The bonus of having an agent is that they specialise in getting work for actors.  If you are new to the game they can help you to meet casting directors and get yourself known in the industry. They also help you though all the tricky legal stuff like signing contracts etc. 

If you are keen on pursuing work in the industry then our advice is to get an agent. However, if you are having trouble signing with one or you are between agents it’s fine to freelance!  There is no point waiting around for other people to make your dreams happen, get active and put yourself out there!

What is a casting director?

Casting directors (sometimes referred to as “Casting Agents” or “Casting Consultants”) are contracted by Production Companies to find suitable actors to fill roles in their films, TV dramas, commercials etc. A casting director constructs a brief for a character based on the information the Production Company has sent them. This brief is sent to all agents, however sometimes casting directors will also request to see actors that they are familiar with or have met at past auditions. It is therefore important to build a good relationship with as many casting directors as possible. 

What do I need before I start looking to get an agent?

Finding an Agent which suits you best is your most difficult challenge. Lucky for you Grace Acting Studios has done all of the hard work for you. Here are the things that we think are important to have ready before you start looking for an agent: 

  • A cover letter / email introducing yourself
  • Current – high quality headshot and an email friendly version
  • An up-to-date resume (See our download resources for an example)
  • A showreel (if you have one) showcasing your acting skills and the type of roles that you could be cast in. (It’s great if you have this but it isn’t always necessary, especially for children)
What do I write in an email/cover letter to an agent?

This is a short introduction about yourself which outlines your experience and training in the industry. If you haven’t had any work, don’t worry – you can list your training at Grace Acting Studios and School Productions.

    Should I get a professional headshot?

    If you are looking to get an agent, we think it’s a great idea to have a professional headshot ready to go before you approach one, but it’s important that you don’t spend a fortune on them.

    Once you sign with an agent they may want you to get shots with their preferred photographer, so you need to ensure that your initial shots are taken at a reasonable price otherwise it can all get a bit expensive!

    Do you have any recommended headshot photographers?

    Yes, we are affiliated with two local photographers who provide professional headshots at a reasonable price.

    www.pamhutchinsonphotography.com.au

    www.jlcproductions.net

    How do I create an acting resume?

    Actors often try to make their resume look flashy so it stands out however Agents and Casting Directors don’t have much time so they need a very simple resume.

    Our Grace Acting Studios, Industry Mentor can provide examples and assist Grace students in creating a resume that is clear and professional.

    Which acting agent do you recommend?

    First of all it is important to ensure that any agent that you are seeking to be represented by is in fact a legitimate agency. As students of Grace Acting Studios, you can always call the studio and speak to our Industry Mentor, Libby to get  advice on a particular agent you are considering joining.

    Different agents suit different actors and it is important to find the right one for you or your child. We can offer you individual advice as to which agencies we would recommend for your needs.

    The best way to decide which agent suits you is by meeting them. You may find that when you approach some agencies they will say their books are closed however some will be eager to have a meet and greet with you.It’s a good idea to have a short monologue prepare just in case you need to perform one in front of an them.

    We recommend organising meetings with a few agencies and then choosing the one that feels best for you. 

    Can I have more than one agent?

    The short answer to this common question is no. The Australian industry is too small to warrant having more than one agent. If you did take on more than one and you got a role in a production, you would be obliged to pay commission to both of them. Things can get complicated and nasty so as a general rule, it’s just not something that is done. 

    How should I contact an agent?

    Via Email: 

    Simply send though your cover letter / email with an email friendly version of your headshot and your resume.

    OR

    Via their Website:

    A lot of agents now have an application section of their website. It usually involves filling out some details about yourself / your child and attaching a headshot. It’s a good idea to check the agents website before applying because often this is their preferred way to take submissions. 

    THEN: 

    Follow up with a phone call: 

    Once you have sent through your material, follow up with a quick phone call within 48 hours to touch base and ensure they received your application. Some agents might be up for a bit of a chat others may just say that they will take a look and get back to you. They all work differently! 

    You may have some agencies say that their books are closed and they are not taking on any new clients at the moment. This is common, so don’t be discouraged. You can ask them what time of the year they look at taking new clients on and resend your application at that time.  

    THEN: 

    Organise a meeting: 

    Once the agent has viewed your headshot,  resume and showreel (if applicable) they may request you to come up for an interview. These interviews are pretty casual and give you both a chance to get to know each other. The agent will find out a bit more about you and this is also a good opportunity to ask any questions that you have about how the agency runs.

    Some agencies may offer you representation on the spot; in this case, make sure you are totally happy before you get involved. Its ok to go away and think about it for a couple of hours, make some phone calls etc. just don’t leave it too long before you get back to them!

    Other agents may leave the interview and give you a call back, usually within 48 hours.

    What questions should I be asking potential agents?

    If you have an interview with an agent the following questions are worth asking.

    • Is there a contract that the agent wants you to sign?

    Be very careful about this, contracts that lock you with a particular agent for a period of time are generally not a good idea. Be careful and read the fine print.

    • How will you promote me?

    It’s worth asking if the agency puts all of their clients on casting databases like Showcast and Casting Networks. All agents should require that their clients are registered on these sites. Some will do it for you, others will give you instructions on how to register. These databases are the main tool used by casting directors to find actors. Inclusion on these sites is a must for all actors. 

    • How much commission do you charge?

    check carefully what percentage of your income the agent will take. In Victoria it varies from 15% to 25%, but there are no rules. In our experience 15% is normal, with some agents charging 20% for commercial work. Any more than that is questionable. 

    • Is there a cost involved in being part of the Agency? 

    Check what expenses/charges you may be expected meet. This is a big one. Although there are often some up front costs that agents will ask for (particularly children’s agencies) , these costs should be minimal as the agent is expected to make the majority of their income through getting their actors work. Anything more than $150 -$300 should be looked at seriously. These expenses can vary greatly between agents, if you have any question about this, give us a call.

    • If there is a cost, what is covered? 

    Does the cost of the agency include registration on casting databases such as Showcast and Casting Networks? 

    • How many clients do you have?
    • What films / television shows / commercials / theatre have your clients done recently?
    • (if extras agent) For what films / television shows / (commercials) have you provided extras?
    • Does the agent have a trust account or an account that your money goes into that is separate from the ‘everyday’ expenses account?

     

    What do I do once I have an agent?

    A big trap that a lot of actors fall into is thinking that their agent is going to do all of the work for them. Sadly, this is not true. Once you have an agent it is still a good idea to send out your headshot and resume to all casting directors every now and then. Work with your agent on this. Let them know when you are planning to send your info out and who you are sending it to.  The Show-off sessions that we hold with casting directors are a great way to be proactive and get yourself known in the industry. Again, it is important that you work together with your agent at all times. Keep your eyes and ears open for up and coming roles and productions that may suit you and contact your agent when you have any questions about any projects that you have heard about. Sometimes even the best agents need a little reminder that you exist, and if you don’t help yourself no one will!

    Do I need to let my agent know if I am going away?

    Yes. This is super important. Everyone needs a holiday that’s for sure and agents don’t mind at all if you are planning to go away but you must always notify them. Once you know your travel dates just give them a call and let them know you are unavailable during that time. It’s as simple as that but your agent will really appreciate it. 

    What are show-off sessions?

    We strongly recommend actors wishing to enter the industry in a professional capacity get involved in our ‘Show-off Sessions’. A show-off session is where a casting director comes to the studio and watches you do a scene, this is called a General Audition. They provide feedback for you and your partner and help you workshop the scene a few different ways. It only takes one good performance for you to be remembered. These are fantastic for actors as they allow you to form relationships with the casting directors and help to get your face out there! We are amazed at the amount of our students who have been called in for auditions for movies, commercials and TV series, after completing a show-off session with a casting director.

    It is also a fantastic means of building a strong relationship with your agent. Every time you meet a casting director at one of these sessions you should let your agent know.  If they realised that you are well respected by many casting agents they will gain faith in you as an actor and will submit you for more work.

    Do I need to become an MEAA member to work in the film and TV industry?

    The MEAA is a union setup to look after those of us working in the entertainment industry. It is not compulsory to be a member in order to work in the industry,  however there are lots of benefits of joining. The union does great work for actors, protecting their rights, negotiating wages etc. They also offer some great seminars and rewards for their members.  If you would like any more information visit www.meaa.org​

    What else can I do to gain exposure in the industry?

    As already mentioned, a dedicated actor will not only rely on their agent to get them noticed. Self promotion is a huge part of becoming a professional actor. Here are some of the ways that you can get your face out there!

     

    SHOWCAST

    Showcast  has been used as a casting tool in Australia for over 50 years! It is essentially an online database of all of Australia’s actors that casting directors can refer to on a daily basis to help them find talent. You can create a Showcast profile even if you are a freelance actor. All agents should make sure their actors have a profile on Showcast. It’s a must for actors in Australia. 

    There is a fee involved in registering on Showcast and there are a number of packages available to cater to your needs. 

    For more information visit  https://www.showcast.com.au/

     

    CASTING NETWORKS

    Casting Networks offers a similar service to Showcast. Some casting directors prefer to use Showcast, some use Casting Networks so it pays to be registered on both. 

    Again, Casting Networks has different packages available to suit your needs 

    For more information visit http://home.castingnetworks.com.au/

     

    AT2

    For those who really want to get themselves out there, here is another database you can register with. Most agents won’t require that you register with AT2 but it is still a good way to be considered for upcoming roles both professional and independent. If your freelancing it may be particularly worth looking at this system as well as the two above. 

    For more information visit http://au.at2casting.com/AU/home/online-casting-system

     

    STAR NOW

    This is yet another database that actors can create a profile on. Lots of independent film makers use Star Now as a way of finding talent for their films. You can also find work in student films through this site and apply for some paid projects.  Unpaid work in student and independent films are a great way to build up your resume and your showreel! 

    When using databases like this you must be aware of your safety. Always take someone with you to auditions, and don’t be afraid to ask questions before auditioning for a project. If it doesn’t feel right don’t do it.  If you are unsure about a project you find on these sites you can always talk to the Grace Acting team about it. We are always here to offer advice and guidance to our students. 

    for more information about Star Now visit: http://www.starnow.com.au/

     

    MACKINTOSH CASTING

    Mackintosh Casting is one casting director that is taking technology to a new level. They aim to have a paperless office and therefore encourage actors to submit their material electronically. For more details about Mackintosh Casting you can visit their snazzy website. There is a section for actors that provides you with clear instructions what/how and where to send your information.  

    Visit  www.mackintoshcasting.com

     

    CHAMELEON CASTING

    Chameleon Casting is another major casting director! They also have a sections for actors where you are able to register your details. 

    Visit: http://www.chameleon.net.au/actors/

     

     

    VCA SHORT FILMS

    As mentioned earlier, a fantastic way to promote your-self while keeping active in the industry is to take part in short films. VCA students are always looking for actors to play various parts in their films. We strongly recommend you emailing a headshot and resume to the VCA, which is kept on file and used for casting. If you are interested email your headshot and resume to vca-ftv@unimelb.edu.au

     

    This is a fantastic way to get-to-know the directors of tomorrow!   

    How much notice to I get prior to auditions?

    This does vary but most of the time you will get approximately two days notice. However, it is not uncommon to receive 24hour notice and vary rarely you may even be called on the day! Don’t panic though! As we said, this is very rare. It is important to be available for auditions as much as possible, particularly when more than 24hours notice is given, however agents do understand that families have other children, and commitments etc so don’t stress out if there is a problem, just try and arrange an alternative time for the audition.

    Where are auditions generally held?

    99% of the time, auditions will be held in Melbourne or it’s surrounding suburbs. If you are an Grace Acting Geelong student, this is something to keep in mind when you are looking for work in the industry. You will be travelling! 

    How early should I arrive for auditions?

    For every audition we recommend that you give yourself plenty of time to ensure you arrive early. If you can, it’s a good idea to aim to arrive around 45mins before and then go and get a coffee or something. You never know what traffic is going to be like and you don’t want to walk into an audition stressed out!  Head into the casting directors office around 10-15mins before your audition time so that you can complete any forms you need to complete, go to the bathroom etc. 

    Should I wear a costume to an audition?

    It is important that you wear a ‘hint’ of the character you are auditioning for, however don’t go over-board. If you’re auditioning for a bad-boy character you should maybe wear a singlet with old jeans. Don’t go too far and wear a tattoo, nose ring and bandanna because it gives the impression that you are trying to hide behind your wardrobe. 

    How much money can I make as an actor?

    Book your trial class today!

    Our kids and teens acting classes run 6 days a week, the best way to see if they're right for your child is to contact us and book a trial.