If you’re an actor thinking about getting a Los Angeles Talent Agent, one of your biggest concerns may be about whether you need a demo reel and whether you should go for an agent yet if you don’t have “tape.”
You may also wonder how you will be able to show your talent if you don’t give them tape. Should you prepare a monologue? A scene? How will you do it?
Let me take away your fears so you don’t hold back and put off getting an agent. I’m about to tell you the truth about what really happens regarding demo reels, scenes, and monologues, and agents seeing your brilliant talent.
To start with, we must look at the level you’re at in your career. If you have several network TV credits and/or professional, real SAG film credits, then chances are, you will have a demo reel already or at least the material to make one – and you should make one.
Be sure the scenes highlight YOU – not the other actor. Too many times when I watch demo reels, I end up asking, “Oh, who’s that other person? They’re great!”
Also don’t show a bunch of scenes from the same movie or TV show. We get the idea after one of two.
If you’re at this level, chances are very high that any agent you would want – let’s say at the B or A level — is going to require that you have a demo reel. Put one together. Make sure it’s great!
On the other hand, if you don’t have credits and therefore don’t have the tape, it’s going to be a really big challenge for you to get an agent at the high-B, low-A level anyway. Most likely you’ll get with a lower level agent, and they will not require tape.
So then you might ask the question: Should you go out and film a couple of scenes to make it look like you have credits and tape to possibly get with a better agent? The answer to that is… it will probably not help you to get that high B or boutique A agent because they want real credits.
In some rare cases, such as if you’re in your teens or early 20s and are otherwise fascinating to them, it might help as they may simply want to see what you look like on film.
Additionally, if you have a few real credits but not enough to make a solid reel, that might be a case, too, in which filming a scene could help. By getting more tape in which you play the lead, it could nicely supplement the rest of the smaller moments on the tape. And that might be sufficient for a little bit higher level agent to consider you.
However, if you’re looking for your first agent or you don’t yet have any network television or studio film credits, then most likely the agents who will look at you do not require tape, so I would not to worry about getting a new scene filmed.
When you’re new, or at least still building your credits, it’s more important for you to focus your attention on things like being in class, getting your photos, submitting, and going on auditions for student and indie films. And submit to casting directors to get auditions for the real stuff.
And yes, you should still submit to agents, but be open to meeting with agencies who are open to working with newbies and therefore don’t require tape. Keep in mind it’s better to not even show a tape than to show one that looks unprofessional.
So that brings up another question: How will they see your brilliant talent? A monologue? A prepared scene? A cold reading scene?
If you are basically a newbie or have limited credits, at that point, the agent is mostly going to go by your look, your training, and whether you have on-the-set experience.
Even ten or more years ago, only about one out of three of the Talent Agents asked you to either read a scene or do a monologue — and by now, it’s even less — so they probably won’t have you do that. But they may have you read some “copy” for a commercial or give you a scene to cold read with them. I never hear of them asking for prepared scenes in their offices anymore.
Good, bad or indifferent, they mostly go by your look now and whether other things on your resume convince them you probably know what you’re doing.
This is just the fact of the matter for actors who are working their way up the Hollywood Food Chain. This does not mean that you shouldn’t be working on your craft. In fact, your craft needs to be so killer that you can shine and stand out in a mere two lines!
A final tip: If you are willing to take a risk and you have a lot of confidence, then offer to do a monologue for the agent, they may let you. Then blow them away! Knock their socks off!
If you want to do that, choose a light-hearted, entertaining monologue that shows off your talent and is a character that you could be cast in on TV. Make sure it’s light fare – DO NOT do Shakespeare and do NOT do not a super dramatic breakdown scene – they’ll kick you out of the office if you do that.
Make it about 2 to 3 minutes long. Be super-well prepared. Make sure it is super great and blow them away.
You won’t have many chances to show what an amazing actor you are. If you don’t have tape but you DO have GUTS, get creative and show them what you got.
The truth is, agents and casting directors both are always hoping that the next actor they meet with is the one they’ve been waiting for! If you don’t have the tape to show them you’re The One, then show it to them live and in person, right in front of their very eyes.
And that is the truth about that!