Think Before Blaming Your Agent
Although this experience dealt with a commercial print booking,
the information will help actors as well.
A while ago I received a call from my agent in New York, letting me know that I had a print booking. This was a direct booking, meaning that I did not have to attend a go-see (the audition for models). It is always nice not to have to attend a go-see and just get a call from an agent inquiring about my availability. In New York, unlike some other markets, most of the bookings come from attending go-sees. Direct bookings in New York simply don’t happen as often as in the past.
After getting the call stating that I was booked for the job, I asked the agent my “check list” of questions that I have for every modeling booking.
- Date of the shoot
- Location of the shoot
- Who is the photographer
- Who gets invoiced for the job
- Will they cover travel
- Will they cover parking
- Will they have a makeup artist
- How long will the shoot last
- How long will the ad run
- What wardrobe do I need to bring
- What is the usage for the ad (newspaper, magazine, etc…)
- Fees – is it an hourly fee or a day rate, or a buyout)
- For what company, business or product is the ad being created
When I was told the usage of this ad was a poster, I was waiting to hear from the agent about the bonus I should receive. Typically, in the commercial print world, a bonus is paid to the model if the ad is running in a high exposure format. These are ads that run on billboards, posters, on the side of a bus, etc… The reason for the additional fee is because talent can lose money if their ad is running in a high exposure format. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to be seen in a large format, but when an actor or model is so closely connected with a product or company in a large way, no competitor will hire the talent. People can also get over exposed in a market, and not get hired, even for non-competing ads.
I was told by the agent that I would get the standard $250/hour (we don’t always get that fee in today’s market, but that is the going rate for commercial models in New York), but there would not be any bonus payments.
I did not say anything to the agent. Honestly, I was very happy to do the job. Money is important to me, but even more important is the fact that I would meet and work with a new photographer and art/creative director. What better way to introduce myself to other industry professionals, then to actually work with them. I assume they will like my work, and keep me in mind for future projects.
I do have to say that I was disappointed that there would be no bonus for the posters. However, after I was told that the posters would only run for 3 months, I felt better. When I got to the set and was shown a lay out of the ad, and saw that it was primarily a profile shot of me, I felt a whole lot better about not receiving a bonus.
What I learned was that I should have trusted my agent to do whatever she thought would be best or could do in the negotiations for this job. I also was reminded that I should have asked the agent about the non-bonus aspect of the shoot to simply clear the air and not have me walk around with any negative feelings about an up-coming project.
Having good communication with your agent is necessary in order to have a great working relationship.
Aaron Marcus is America’s Premier Acting and Commercial Modeling Career Coach. He has been a full-time actor and commercial model for nearly 3 decades, and as of today, he has been booked 1,201 times.
His book How to Become a Successful Commercial Model is now in its 5th Edition. He has his workshop The Best Way to Get Work as an Actor and Commercial Model over 500 times in 4 countries to date. Aaron also offers online workshops as well as private online coaching sessions. He is also the founder of, HowToModel