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

by James Bell on March 23, 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 and Part Two of this interview

Let’s talk about the actor – agent relationship….

What do you see as your obligation to actors on your roster?

To provide them with work, facilitate auditions… obviously. But to listen to them and understand what their goals and expectations are. You’ve got to communicate with actors and know what they want so you can give it to them. Some just want to work, but some want specific things with regards to their careers. So my obligations will be different for each artist but my ultimate obligation is to put a paycheck in their pocket.

What do you see as their obligation to you?

Ongoing training, provide updated photos and being available to audition whenever I ask. You have to give an agent the tools to sell you, and then be prepared to trust them to work as hard as they can for you and trust their opinions.

What’s good business, and what’s overly eager? How often should an actor be checking up?

I would say good business is doing your own research, knowing what’s going on in town and what’s filming, and speaking with your colleagues. You want to be really clear and concise when calling an agent. We want to be friendly, but we also have a lot of work to do. Communicate what you want to say efficiently and directly. If you haven’t talked to your agent for an extended period of time, and you think you should be, communicate that. Being self motivated is important, staying busy on your own accord, improving and putting yourself in a better position to land work.

I suppose actors that are considered overly eager generally call and ask why they’re not been seen for everything. You should be checking in, but you should also be realistic with projects and understand that there are reasons sometimes you aren’t seen. For example I’ve seen numerous young actors in class with tons of ambition and drive that receive acclaim and praise in class for their development and growth approach me to be seen for larger roles. Being eager to put your training to use and actually being ready for the casting room are two very different things. The casting room is not class and you generally don’t get second chances.

How do you feel if an actor calls and says they want to read for something? Is that a trust they earn?

I certainly think you have to pick your battles. You can’t ask to be seen for everything just because you’ve heard about it. It has to be the right role. If you’re unsure, approach your agent in a very simple way, not questioning them, but rather inquiring as to if you would be suitable. A quick email is also an efficient way to approach them.

Should actors ask for submission lists?

I think it’s a good idea, yes.

Should they be worried about an agent that says ‘no’?

Ah…you’re going to get me in trouble. I think it’s good to know what type/size of role you’re being submitted for. And if your agent won’t tell you that, it’s a red flag. I can’t speak to every agent/actor relationship… I wouldn’t drop your agent because of it, but I’d want to know why they won’t provide it. Proof is in the submissions, and if you’re not being submitted you won’t be seen.

When does an actor know if an agent isn’t working with them? And how should they handle that?

I’d hope the actor would have that conversation with their agent. Maybe if you’re not going out, it’s slow. Perhaps it’s other reasons. Sometimes they aren’t marketing you the right way, or a way that casting is taking too. So you have to have that dialogue and similar to a new actor submitting, you might need to rebrand, remarket and re-launch.

If there’s no communication and no response from emails or phone calls, you should move on and find another agent. That’s a clear indication that you aren’t a focus and it isn’t working. But you have to talk with them, address issues. Don’t be afraid to talk about anything, take ownership. Take control.

Check out for Part Four where we ask more about the agent-actor relationship.

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