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

by James Bell on March 30, 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 OnePart Two, and Part Three of this interview

If actors have been stagnant with an agent for a good period of time, what can they do to fix that? What dialogue should they be having?

Start by looking at yourself. Are you training? Do you have shots that are working for you? Are you doing everything in your capacity to give the proper tools to the agent? That’s the most important thing. Too many times when an actor comes to an agent and asks ‘why am I not getting work’, they haven’t been putting in the work themselves. They aren’t getting training; they aren’t being social or networking.
If they’re doing that, then you need to have that business talk with the agent and make a plan.

Do you think that conversation is different depending on the actor?

Yes. Some you can be really upfront with, and blunt. Some you have to be more nurturing and selective with what you tell them. In that regard, some agents aren’t a good fit for actors. You have to find one that works with your personality, and is going to get the job done.

Is putting yourself on tape a good idea? Do you send that to casting directors?

For roles you want to be seen for, sure. You can put yourself on tape and give it the agent. Do that work on your own, but know that sometimes it won’t work. But if you want, give them that option and if they believe in it, they’ll send it.
If a casting director isn’t seeing you for something, it’s a good way to have them see your best and garner their consideration that way. It might not result in work for that role, but it’ll put you on their radar and showcase that you’ve made steps to get better which will pay off down the road.

How do you convince a casting director to take another shot on an actor maybe that they haven’t seen, or have but not for a long time?

Taping is useful. They’ll take a look, and again, even if they don’t bring you in, they’ll be able to see where you’re at for the future consideration. The work has to be strong though.

Do you monitor an actor’s progress with classes?

Absolutely. I also try and get feedback from the instructors they’re training with. Some schools upload streaming videos of scenes in class, I find that very useful. It gives a confidence to the agent to sell you when they can see that, so we want to know when an actor has made a break through or has been putting in solid work.

What can actors do beyond training to better their chances?

Student films and independent work is a great way to further your experience and develop as an artist. It typically pays off with contacts and usually leads to confidence which translates in the casting room. The more you work the more fluid and loose you become, it’s important to flex your acting muscle as much as possible even if there’s no pay involved. Short of that, make your own work, write your own show, pilot, film and pitch it with you attached in a specific role. It happens more often than you think and it does work.

Explain how you choose actors when submitting for roles to Casting Directors?

We have to know an actor’s ‘hit’.  You want to know that who you’re sending isn’t just another name but a viable interest to casting for that role.

How many can or will you submit? All, few and why?

You can submit everyone, but that only looks weak to casting. You have to understand their workload and what they deal with, and do some of the work for them. Pick your battles. Know who will be seen for what, and why…and if they disagree know when to push and know when not to.

Do all agents in town ‘Push’ actors for roles?

Yes, I think so. We’ll email or call casting if we have to discuss specific actors we think would be good for something. But you have to know what the boundaries are for all the casting directors in town, and they aren’t all the same.

How do you respond if an actor doesn’t want to go in for something? Should that guideline be set early on? Do you have that discussion with your actors?

Set that up early on with your agent. Know their personal boundaries and what they will or won’t do. Don’t wait until it gets to the casting stage. We respect someone’s stance on something, but we have to know it so we can do our job effectively. So have that talk with your agent.

What about LA projects? Should actors worry about that?

If that’s a goal, yes. Be careful with what your expectations are and do your research on the viability of making the transition to L.A. Taping is a great way to be seen from Vancouver without crossing any borders but if that’s something you want, talk to the agent about it, it’s a lot of work but the payoff can be huge.

Thanks to Dylan for taking time out share his perspective.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

ADlynn April 1, 2009 at 2:01 pm

As a new talent trying to break into this industry, the interview for the last four weeks has been very insightful and informative. I definately feel more confident about approaching the business from the knowledge I have acquire through the articles and the forum. Thankyou for the interview Kenji & James and also to Dylan Maher.

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