The subject of agent and client relationships comes up repeatedly in my discussions, particularly with actors. It can be a little touchy, but it’s important to address. When you sign with your agent, you need to discuss procedures. Where you are in your career and your credits will likely inform how your agent approaches submissions, pitches and negotiations for you.
This week, let’s look at negotiations. Keep in mind there are days of information to be given on this subject. I am just hitting on a few points here.
Over the past several years, I have seen some really positive changes in the offers being made to actors. It is no longer uncommon for casting to make an offer that includes over scale and more than a costar credit, particularly with episodic television. For features, there tends to be less wiggle room. That said, the extent of the negotiations that can happen between an agent and casting are directly connected to the credits and resume of the actor.
If an actor has no or very few credits, then it is nearly impossible to ask for over scale and expect to get it. Not only that, but as a casting director, I expect for the agent to know when it is appropriate to ask. If the agent asks for over scale on a three line Waitress role acting against a minor character, then there is no justification for that rate to be given.
For an agent to ask for better than a daily rate, then the size of the role and existing credits need to warrant that ask, or there needs to be an over scale quote already in place. An over scale rate simply indicates any pay above scale that you have received for a role in the past. If the casting director is not in the position to give any on the rate, billing, etc., then it is standard for the agent to ask for a “no quote” in the closing points. This practice ensures that the established over scale quote that the actor already has will remain in place for future negotiations.