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Whether you are new to the entertainment biz or have been around for a while, you have got to read Brian's tips!

General Tips about Agent and Talent Agency Contracts / Websites and Casting Directors / Websites
Moderator
Total posts: 245
Joined: 10 year(s) ago
Posted 9:51 PM 7/14/2016

1) A Casting Director is the Employee of the Production Company - Hired by them and paid in full for their work by the Production Company. Actors should not pay any fee's or Commissions to Casting Directors.

An Agent or a Talent Agency is YOUR Employee - Hired by you to find you work and paid in full by you as a commission on the paid work they get from you.

In most States it is Illegal for them to charge any fee in advance of getting you work and not directly related to the paid work they get for you. Unfortunately here in the Mid-Atlantic states it is not Illegal (but still wrong). Luckily 99% of the Agents/Talent Agencies Here are Reputable Enough to not Charge any Fee's. Asking for a Fee should be a warning sign for you and you should be extremely careful in continuing to talk to any Office that Charges any Fee for any reason

That Said - Technology Changes Everything and the 1 Honest Exception is Agent/Talent Agency/Casting Director Websites.

Before Websites (about 10-15 Years ago) an Actor working full time in the Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Richmond markets could easily use 1,000-1,500 Headshots every year - Every Agent/Talent Agency/Casting Director you wanted to work for needed a small stack of Headshots/resumes in their office files and if they were actively looking to get you work they sent/gave YOUR information out not just to every client they had but every Prospective Client they talked to.- for every project they talked about.

It was not unusual for those actively trying to get you work to use 10-15 headshots/resumes a month all 12 months each year. You also needed to keep the Resumes updated with the new jobs you worked on - so you wanted to send new updated info every month

It was the Actors Expense to buy the headshots, print the resumes (again 15 years ago you printed Resumes on 8 1/2 X 11 paper that you bought and cut it down to the 8 X 10 headshot size - then stapled it to the headshots. Printer Quality improved and you now print directly on the back of the headshot but it still costs to print them) Buy Envelopes, Pay for Postage ETC

Websites that held Thousands of Headshots (and other Photo's), Resumes and other Actor information can cost Thousands of Dollars to Operate every year and were never part of the Agent/Talent Agency/Casting Director's Normal business Expenses so it is OK to pay a reasonable fee to the Agent/Talent Agency/Casting Director to be included on their Website because it saves the actor money as well.

The Key word is REASONABLE FEE - Websites are not intended to be a Major Profit center for the Agent/Talent Agency/Casting Director - If the Agent/Talent Agency/Casting Director has a mandatory fee that everyone pays then Reasonable is $50 or less per year - If paying is Optional then $100 or less per year is Reasonable


2) Exclusive Contracts -

Almost all Agent/Talent Agency Contracts in the Mid-Atlantic States in the are non-Exclusive because we are a freelance area. This means you only owe them a commission on work they got for you and you do not owe any commission on work you find for yourselves, work you get directly from a Casting Director or any work from any source that is not an Agent or Talent Agency.

An Exclusive Contract means you owe that Agent or Talent Agency a commission on every job you do - no matter how you got the job. NYC and LA are Areas most Contracts have Exclusive Clauses in them. Finding an Exclusive Clause in a Contract here in the Mid-Atlantic should be another warning sign that you want to think hard about signing that contract.

So lets say you get a job off DragonukConnects.com that pays $250 -DragonukConnects.com does not get a commission so you keep $250

You sign an Exclusive Contract with Someone - Get the same job from DragonukConnects.com- you owe That Agent/Talent Agency 15%-20% of the $250 for not getting you the job

If that job is From another Agent You owe that Agent 15%-20% for getting you the job - then you owe The Agent with the Exclusive Contract another 15%-20% for not getting you the job


3) Cancelling your Contracts

Almost all Agent/Talent Agency contracts in the Mid-Atlantic states can be canceled by you writing the Agent/Talent Agency - Some Contracts can require up to 180 day notice to cancel - That is telling That Agent/Talent Agency you are leaving and still being tied to the terms of that contract for the next 6 months.

Any Cancellation Terms in Excess of 30 days should be another warning sign that you want to think hard about signing that contract.
4) Contract Length and Renewal

In the Mid-Atlantic States most Agent/Talent Agency contracts are for a 1 year or 3 year time period and then Expire. There are Contracts out there for 5 or 7 years but they should be avoided if possible.

Some Contracts started having "Auto renewable if not canceled" clauses in them a few yrs ago - This means if you do not cancel the contract (giving whatever days notice your contract requires) it automatically renews for another 3, 5, or 7 yrs.
This is another warning sign that you want to think hard about signing that contract.

5) The Most Important thing is There is NEVER ANY REASON TO SIGN ANY CONTRACT WITH ANYONE THE DAY YOU 1ST SEE IT - YOU ALWAYS MUST TAKE A COPY HOME SO YOUR LAWYER CAN READ IT.

If they refuse to let you take a copy so your Lawyer can read it RUN - DO NOT THINK - RUN

If you do not have a Lawyer - ACT LIKE YOU HAVE 1

Read the Contract Twice - Put it down - 8-10 hours later - read it twice again - THEN THINK ABOUT IT

Best Brian