New Representation and a Short Film

June 14, 2016 | Filed Under Uncategorized 

“They’re magicians, your honour. Men who live by dressing up plain and simple truths to shock, to amaze.” – The Prestige, Christopher Nolan.

Last week, to mark Refugee Week 2016, a short film was released, in which I have a modest role as a man doing a card trick. It’s called Refugee, and it is really bloody good. I’ve dabbled in sleight-of-hand magic for years (in addition to performing as an escape artist), and it has occasionally come in handy in the past – I was briefly a magic consultant on Downton Abbey, and also a feature film which sadly stalled mid-way through production.

However, this was the first time I’d had an opportunity to actually use my modest skills on camera. Sadly, not much of the magic trick makes it onto the screen, but it was a lovely little role to play, it’s a great scene in the wider context of the film, and the children were simply amazing, both in their performances and their discipline.

In other news, I am now represented by Danny Clifton at Union Management. I’d had a great experience with Sam, my last agent (who got me the Refugee audition, in fact) – for the first time in my career, I knew what a good agent relationship was actually like! – but it was time for a change. Nothing’s come of the move yet, but it’s very early days. I’ll be getting new headshots done next week, and should be cutting together a new showreel very shortly after – watch this space.

It’s a funny beast, the agent process. Just getting one at all seems incredibly daunting when you’re unrepresented or looking to move on – when I signed with Sam in September 2014, I had written to 54 of the buggers, and got three meetings out of it, a hit rate that several actor friends actually congratulated me on.

It’s a relationship that relies hugely on trust. They must trust you to be professional and prepared, and represent the agency positively, and you must trust that they understand which roles you’re right for, and which you aren’t. I’ve had more than one agent that very clearly favoured the fling-shit-at-a-wall approach – they sub you for EVERYTHING where you meet the age/gender criteria, in the hopes that you’ll get seen for something. I once had to write to an agent, saying “I’m not sure it’s worth me attending this particular audition, as I am not Brazilian, and I cannot speak Portuguese.”

Another element is communication. If you’re afraid to call your agent, it’s a bad relationship for you. If you’re pestering them every two minutes to see what you’ve been subbed for, it’s a bad relationship for them – and both of these are symptoms of failing trust.

And finally, the Withnail & I-esque days of waiting for an agent to call, and sitting around bitching about how they’re not getting you any work are over – or at least they should be. Naturally, it’s frustrating when they’re not sending you any opportunities – one of the reasons I decided to move on was that the exceptional rate of auditions I had been receiving had slowed to a modest trickle. However, in that time, I was taking on rehearsed readings, taking part in workshops, finding plays to do through my own efforts, attending weekly classes and working on my own screenplays for future projects. Agents have access to the big opportunities, the TV, the films, the big theatres, for sure; but an actor in the trenches nowadays must be prepared to source their own work and cultivate their own opportunities, or they will never progress.

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