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

by James Bell on March 16, 2009

triskotalentlogoDylan 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.

Did you miss it?  Read Part One of this interview


Should they have headshot before approaching an agency?

It often makes our job easier. We can see what you’re selling and how we can market you. But give us a variety to choose from. One’s good to submit, but don’t do a big run of them. Then let us look at the photographers roll on a CD and let us decide if it’s best or not. Trust the agent, we have your interests in mind when we choose your headshot or tell you to go with a different photo

What do you look for from new actors? What impresses you enough to stick with them?

Self-motivation and drive, those that commit to student films or indies, the actors that invest in training. I want to see someone committed and who wants this as a career. With new actors a low-maintenance attitude helps us get to know them in the short term so we can craft the best way to sell them around to casting.

How should new actors approach agencies? And should they only look for the ‘best’ agents?

Mailing them is the best. No walkups, that’s only awkward. You can follow up with an email if you want, but a lot of agents lose electronic submissions. Be professional. Provide us with a detailed resume, and provide any industry related skills or interests. A good cover letter explaining a little bit about yourself and your goals is a good way to get to know you as well, keep it short and direct. We aren’t looking to be friends, but it shouldn’t be void of personality. Start with the best agents… why not?

Are student gigs and non-union work for new actors a definite benefit when looking at a new actor?

Absolutely. Non union work can even be great for the most seasoned artists.

What about Children? How should Parents go about getting their kids involved?

Parents need to think of it just like they were doing it for themselves. It’s a business, all the same rules apply. Photo, resume, those are the things we need. Do your research on the agencies and know which ones take on younger children. Basically see above.

When taking on an actor what do you look for?

I have a criteria of things I look for which consists of three factors. The first is the Look. Does that person fit a look or a niche that I think I can sell and market? Two, what’s their personality like? How are they going to be in the room, what’s casting going think of them? Are they genuine, with the right intentions? And the third is talent. Are they a good actor and can they deliver? If they have all three, I’ll generally take them on. If they have two of the three then I know it’ll be a development process. One of the three and it’s probably a no.

What about older actors that submit to you? Those in the 30 to 40 year old range just starting out?

It’s very difficult. They’re competing with a demographic that’s been around the industry for a long time. There are lots of roles for that age but they need to understand they have to put in the work and develop as a performer to compete with those artists that already have. You generally won’t read for bigger roles until you’ve put in the work. There are too many options for casting for that age, so you have to respect that and work to prove you’re up to par. It’s a learning curve and you’re looking at a five year learning curve to get up and going in reality. When you’re at a young age casting might be more willing to take a chance for larger stuff such as a series lead, but when you’re older they’re less likely.

What’s the best time for an actor to submit? Is there a good time, or bad time?

When an agent is busy, it’s bad. They generally don’t have the time to sit down and interview multiple candidates. But when you’re submitting you’ll never know when it’s the wrong time. Another factor is do you fit that agent’s roster at that particular time. Sometimes I’ll see an actor that interests me but conflicts with someone on my roster already. There is no sense in representing two actors with the same look and hit.

Should they resubmit?

I think it’s important to do that. I think six months is a good timeline. Actors that submit every single month might be missing the point. You have to shoot headshots with a professional photographer and you have to train. You have to approach it on a business level and show that you can provide the agent with the tools to sell you. So if something isn’t working, and you don’t sign the first time you submit chances are you need to rebrand, remarket and re-launch. New shots, new classes, put something on tape. Shoot something, give them concrete that they can see you in and make sure it’s your best.

What are the biggest mistakes actors make when submitting?

Not being prepared. Over-confidence can rub you the wrong way too, there’s always room to grown in this business and people that don’t know that are hard to work with. Know who you are submitting to, do your research and approach specific agents. I generally read the submissions addressed to me first where as the general submission get tossed into one big pile which is sorted at a later time when we aren’t busy.

Check out Part 3 where we delve into the agent-actor relationship…

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

adlynn March 18, 2009 at 10:23 am

Once again great information. Thanks! :)

Nancy November 4, 2009 at 6:49 pm

Hi: I understand you represent Ryan Beil who is in the A&W commercials. He’s adorable. What I am really interested in is finding out the name of the older man who is in the same commercial. I’m a fan of his as well. Thank you. Nancy

Kenji Maeda November 5, 2009 at 12:35 am

@Nancy – It’s not a guarantee that Dylan represents the other actor you’re talking about. Commercials don’t have credit listings like film and tv productions do on imdb.com. So if you see the actor you’re looking for on a tv show or movie, you can try and look them up that way.

Sharon Simons - Moten October 11, 2010 at 3:27 am

This is a great website with valuable information. I am new to this site and look forward to networking, meeting new people and meeting the challenge of learning and developing and improving my skills as an actor.

Ida May 19, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Thanks for that question about actors starting out that are in the 30-40 year old range! I’m one of those, and it’s not a question I’ve seen addressed anywhere else in discussions with talent agents. So I’m glad to know what their reservations might be as I tackle my agent search! :)

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