Getting an agent is essential for pursing a career as a director, but directors need to think carefully about which agents and agencies best suit their career path, and how best to approach and secure representation. See our Database of Agencies for Directors.
Research agencies thoroughly before approaching. Is a particular agency strong on directors, or are they more geared towards actors? Do they have a strong portfolio of clients? What kind of different rates do the agents charge? Do the particular agencies accept approaches from directors, or just take referrals?
Insure you have an agent in the particular locations where you want to work. If you want to work in Irish television, it makes sense to have an agent in Dublin; if you want to work in London or LA, to have an agent in London or LA. Your agent needs to be in the thick of it, networking and getting your name out there, so agents need to be localized to the area where you want to work.
Present an effective showreel of your work: A good showreel should focus on the particular genre or style which you want to specialize in – or demonstrate versatility if you have no preferred genre. It needs to show that you have the ability to elicit strong performances from actors, and highlight your technical skills. It should wow without overwhelming the viewer. Generally, showreels are more effective when they demonstrate individual scenes, images and skill-sets, rather than trying to communicate story-lines.
Be clear on the distinctions between agents, managers and lawyers. Agents connect directors with opportunities, making deals on directors’ behalf with film and television studios for an agreed percentage. While agents are focused on getting work and individual deals, managers take charge of a director’s career on a longer-term basis, usually for a larger percentage. Managers provide general business and occasional legal advice, and organize transport, logistics and expenditure. Lawyers are hugely important to help directors navigate their way through the often bamboozling details of legal contracts, and a good lawyer will fight to insure that directors are being treated fairly, and fully understand the contracts they are signing.
If you are starting out, build up a portfolio. A strong portfolio of corporate work, commercials or music videos is often hugely helpful in securing representation for a director without a large body of dramatic work. Don’t be afraid to get stuck in and direct corporate videos – some of the most critically acclaimed directors working today used corporate work as a launching pad to hone their craft and get their name out there. This kind of work is very important in getting agents onside in the early stages of a director’s career.