1 on 1 with Talent Agent, Dylan Maher – Part One

by James Bell on March 9, 2009

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Dylan Maher is a Vancouver based talent agent at Trisko Talent Management, who started his career as a Casting Associate with various casting directors around town. I recently sat down with Dylan to discuss the agent perspective on the relationships of actors and agents, and what are some of the best ways for actors to proceed.

So Dylan, how long have you been an agent?

Three years.

What was the reason you jumped from casting to being an agent?

There was a downward trend in the business of casting at the time, and ultimately I didn’t think I’d be as successful as a casting director. It wasn’t the career I wanted. I wanted to nurture a select few actors and manage actor’s successes rather than dealing with the constant change and general lack of respect casting directors receive from a production point of view. Being an agent was always on the back burner and I knew that I’d make the transition when the time was right and I wanted to work with the best in the business.

What have you brought over from your experience in casting?

I was able to have really close dealings with about 70% of the agents in town. I got to know how they all worked on a business level really well in many different capacities. So in that regard, I was able to be mentored by all the agents indirectly, see their different tactics and strategies, observe how they approach their own negotiations. Being able to work with various casting directors in different capacities also made me understand how their business functions as well. I have a good understanding of the whole picture. I know what happens when an agent’s job is ‘done’ and what really happens from an actor’s perspective from the time they receive the call to after the audition.

So do you think you approach it differently?

I think so. Yeah. I think I’m more sensible to casting, I know that world and the deadlines they’re dealing with regards to breakdowns, producers and results. I understand why they might not see an actor who might be perfect for the way a role was written because those types of changes happen fast behind closed doors.

Are all agents the same?

Yes, on most levels. There’s a very structured way to the business is handled. There are ways of being creative but ultimately the fundamentals are the same. I think they work to their own capacity similar to the rest. The same could be said about hockey players… all of them know how to skate, some just score more often than others.

Actors are always looking for the best known agency, is that something that matters a lot?

Being the best known agency comes with time, I learned that through casting. Respect is earned, you don’t just get to walk onto the scene and have everyone on your roster seen in the room. You have to earn it. So in that regard, yes it’s a good idea to be signed with a reputable and well known agency. However, you don’t always get a great agent when you sign with a great agency. As an agent you have to respect boundaries. Casting Directors have options, and over time relationship are built between veterans which is grossly different than that of a new agent that’s been on the block for a year. I would always advise to remember that your agent represents you on a business level, it’s important to associate yourself with the best possible representation or agency available to you but make sure you find the right agent as well.

And do some agents have negative relationships with casting directors?

Yeah…it definitely affects the way you do business. If you’ve had confrontations with casting in the past it’ll weigh negatively with submissions.

How does an actor find that out?

A lot of that information is internal and between the agent and casting. It can take years to repair that kind of relationship but I don’t think there are many agents that are viewed in a negative light, some just have less of a standing and have to work slightly harder to improve that. Word travels in a small town like Vancouver, so it’s important to ask around, talk with colleagues and get a general impression on an agent you might be interested in.

Can you comment on boutique agencies as opposed to big agencies?

A boutique agency in my opinion is an agency that focuses on select individuals and grooms them for a larger platform. I think the word ‘boutique’ gets thrown around too much though. Just because an agency is smaller doesn’t mean they’re a boutique agency. And just because an agency is bigger doesn’t mean they’re less driven or focused on an individual level. I think that’s a big misconception, that you’ll get lost in the shuffle simply because it’s a big agency. I don’t believe in that. As long as the relationship is strong between the actor and agent, it doesn’t matter the size of the roster. That’s the key to success…it has everything to do with the individual and the agent.

Check out Part 2 where we delve into the submission process…

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

adlynn March 9, 2009 at 9:53 am

Thanks for the information! It’s very helpful to know what how the agents view the business. I will be looking forward to part 2!

Casper07 March 9, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Thank you very much for the information. It is very helpfull to know the agent’s perspective. I will be waiting for the part 2!!!

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