Wednesday, March 25, 2015

33 Things You Should Always Ask Your Prospective Agent (or, more like, 5)

Last time I wrote about the correct mindset for approaching the agent meetings.  As I said, three of the four agencies that invited us in were one-on-one (or one-on-two) meetings with agents.  They were mostly an overview of the commitment (coming soon!) and then a time for MY questions.  I had no idea what to ask.  And even now, three and a half years later, I’m still thinking of questions I might ask.  Here is my list and a few words about why.

How is your office structured?  Will I be hearing more from you or your staff?  Whom should I call or email when I have a question?  Do you have any “ground rules” about when and how parents should/shouldn’t contact you?
Preferably, when you leave the appointment, you will have a name with a face for the person you will be interacting with the most.  Honestly, though, agencies switch up assistants and interns fairly regularly.  However, knowing the proper channels in the agency can help everyone work efficiently together.  As far as “ground rules” for contacting the agents, some agents really want to remain email free over the weekend and holidays.  It seems like you could just say…well, don’t open the emails.  But honestly, you probably open emails as they come…and it’s hard to avoid the temptation.  Some moms want to be able to email on nights and weekends, because that’s when they have time to stop and think.  And some agents will respond 24/7.  I keep to the business hours rule as much as possible – just like phone calls.  If it can wait (and unless you are on set and have an immediate issue, it probably can), wait until 11:00 am Monday morning.  Avoid the last hour or two of the business day as well, because the agents are probably dealing with last minute client issues.

How far in advance will you send out go-see or booking info?  (And say, “I realize that much of this business is last minute, but I know some agencies let the parents know as soon as they do and others prefer to notify parents closer to the appointment.”)
I know the agent will probably tell you, “We tell you everything that we know.”  Okaaaaay, but that’s not helpful when you have five birthday parties and six lessons on the weekend and find out four days in advance other kids are getting requests for a Saturday go-see.  Or, probably realistically, if you find out five other kids have a request for something and you’re itching to know why your kid didn’t.  (NOT THAT YOU WOULD EVER ASK AN AGENT WHY YOUR KID DIDN’T GET THE REQUEST.  In the future, I’ll give you some pointers on how to handle concerns like that.)  Oh, and hey…model moms talk.  A lot.  Fact of life.  Be in this gig a couple of years and you know the size and age of every kid in the city.  Or you have a friend who does so you don’t need to remember all of that.  (Shout out!!!)  For the kids who have a similar look and size to your own child, you will know their name, address, birth date, social security number, blood type…KIDDING!  (About the blood type.)  Some agencies send requests closer to the actual appointment.  They know things can change at the last minute and want to be efficient and accurate.  They also don’t want moms calling to see if they can pleeeeeease get their kid into a casting.

How does this agency use the internet to promote their models?  Is there a website fee?  Do you control the pictures or statistics on the website or do I?
This is a topic that comes up on backstage pretty regularly.  There is “that one agency” that charges more than the others.  Really, though, it’s not CRAZY more if you stay with the agency for a really long time.  That agency charges some bigger initial fees, while the others charge a more modest monthly fee...that can add up over a few years.  The purpose of the website is to allow clients to see kids other than the ones they may have specifically requested by breakdown…not necessarily for any of your purposes.  I’m not entirely convinced the website presence is essential to success in the business.  We personally do not use the website, because I know that our agent submits my kid for anything that matches her breakdown.  Other parents and agents probably have totally different opinions on that.

What do you prefer I bring to go-sees: a photo or a comp card?  If it’s a comp card, can I make my own or do I need to get them through you?
Comp cards are nice, thick 5x7 cards with a big photo on one side and a few smaller photos on the back as well as the kid’s name, agency, and stats.  I have seen some amaaaaaazing comp cards.  Traditionally, the agency would have a stack and you would have a stack.  Agents would send actual comp cards to clients for them to select the kids they wanted to see.  Then, you would carry them with you and give one to the client at the go-see if they didn’t have one handy.  Personally, we have never gotten one made.  Young kids change a lot, AND, almost no one ever asks for them at go-sees.  And they are expensive…and you have to buy a hundred, minimum, at a time.  Since I have been asked for one exactly one time (it was at the Gap Kate Spade casting…yeah, we didn’t book that.  Was it the lack of comp card?  Doubt it.) I have no plans to get any made.  I do, however, carry 5x7 prints of a photo approved by the agent to leave when people want photos.  I hardly ever need to leave these, so I really only get about 5 made at a time.

What should I never do?  Or always do?  (Besides be on time, available, professional, update stats, etc…)
Every agent has his or her thing that you just shouldn’t do.  I don’t know if each agent has it ready to spill at the interview or if you have to figure it out on your own…but it’s helpful to find out and know and abide as soon as possible.

(Side note: my favorite things to read on the internet are lists – hello, attention span…NOT!  Where was I? – but I’m not so sure I like writing them.  I feel like I’m forgetting really important things and that I do not have enough things on my list!)

Next time: I answer the question I was asked last night… “So, what is it that a parent really wants from a print agent?”

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