It’s that time again- the famous pilot season is back! For some this stirs excitement, others anxiety, and yet others an eye roll. What everyone can agree on is that being in sync with your agent and your goals is key this time of year. So I decided to chat with agent, colleague, and former dancer/model/actor Carrie Macy to give advice, tools, and discuss the best way navigate this tumultuous season while having your agent as a co-pilot.
You haven’t always been an agent. You know what this season is like from the actors seat.
Macy: Yes, I had been a performer for most of my life; dancer, pianist, runway model, theater and commercial actress. And my job while doing those things was being a waitress at high end restaurants. When I got married, I decided to take a pause from the entertainment world and raise my kids while they were young. Best decision ever! It was like discovering myself and the world all over again while introducing the world to them.
Having a creative/performer background in this industry is much different than just knowing the business end. What made you come back to the entertainment industry and pursue a career as an agent?
Macy: When my kids got older, I was trying to figuring out what I wanted to do as a career moving forward. I remember the revelation very clearly. I had gone to bed around midnight and started reflecting on all the things I had loved doing in my life. And like a puzzle fitting together in my mind, I realized I wanted to be an agent. It combined all the things I had ‘trained’ for, meaning, I could relate to my performers, and having been a parent myself, I could relate to parents as they tried to navigate their way in to the business with their children. I made a list that night of agencies I wanted to call to ask about internships. I called them all the following morning, had 2 interviews lined up for that week, accepted the position at one of them, and began my internship the following week.
Wow! Once you started working as an agent, what was one of the most valuable things you learned?
Macy: Organization! This applies to actors as much as agents. You have got to be on top of your game by keeping so many details straight. There is no instruction manual on what you need to learn/know how to do as an agent. So, it’s vital to create systems for yourself so that you can always be moving forward and not be burdened down by trying to search for things.
What’s one system you put in place that could help fellow artists?
Macy: A great thing I started doing at the very beginning was keeping my email account very organized. Creating folders to file emails in once they are read is key; one for auditions, one for meetings, one for bookings etc. Another is I keep all my contacts organized by creating a prefix before their name so I know what category they belong in. Example: casting directors all have the prefix: Casting – then their name-then where they work. This keeps all my casting director contacts in one place. I do the same for all the talent I’ve worked with at various agencies.
What is an ideal agent and actor relationship in your mind?
Macy: The ideal relationship is knowing that your agent is busting their tail for you and the agency. The talent I represent are reflections of me, so I only want people on my board that I believe in and that I know are amazing. We only make 10% of what the talent makes, so we have got to really hustle! I only want to represent talent that are as devoted to this industry as I am and that they are doing their part to be trained and proactive in keeping themselves sharp and ready.
What’s the submission process like being in the middle of casting and talent?
Macy: Casting trusts agents to be submitting the best people to them for their projects so I settle for nothing less. Talent trusts agents to be looking out for them and submitting them for everything applicable to get them out there! It’s very important to remember that as agents, we are getting projects all day long and even into the night. So our constant focus is getting submissions in as quickly as possible so that Casting will select you to audition.
What is one mistake you see a lot of talented actors make?
Macy: I’ve seen too many people choose the wrong managers. It’s hard because there is no set definition as to what a manager does, so I don’t really blame them. Some love to submit, some prefer to work on branding, some like to just place their talent at agencies all over town and sit back to collect their 10-20…sometimes 30% while they do nothing. It is crucial to ask any manger you meet with what their specialty/focus is and to ask what their working relationship is with their clients. Basically, what will they do for you.
Pilot season is a crazy time in this business. How can actors make it easier for their agents for it to be a smooth and successful pilot season?
Macy: Always make sure all your reel clips are current, all your online accounts are up to date with special skills, sizes, resume. This ensures that your agents has all the tools they need to be submitting you most efficiently. This time of year is like the Olympics for agents so be patient with us! We have got to be armed and ready. So try to be understanding that the volume of work is massive and should you want to meet to strategize with your agent, make sure so do it beforehand.
What tools should every actor have, especially during pilot season to help them get auditions?
Macy: Be an actor that Casting loves. Have solid pictures and solid training. It’s important to be well rounded as an actor.
What’s a well rounded actor in your mind?
Macy: So often you hear a theatrical actor think that the commercial world is beneath them. Yet you would be surprised how many theatrical actors have a hard time with improv. They get spoiled in the theatrical world by having the luxury of time to develop their character, figure out their motivation etc., that when you give them 9 lines of a commercial copy and ask them to do it, they have a hard time being really in the moment to assess it, and execute. The commercial world is quick and commercials are designed to be pitchy. The importance of improv is to teach you how to be really present in a quick moment and how to deliver something quickly in a believable way. Coming to improv with the knowledge of theatrical makes you a better improv person and vice versa. They are two different mediums to the same craft and they go hand in hand. To be good at both makes you more marketable, as the lessons from both are truly interchangeable.
What is one piece of advice you would give an actor to have a success pilot season?
Macy: The key to a successful pilot season is to be ready BEFORE pilot season! Anticipate that November and December are really busy with end of the year budgets being spent for projects, so there are a lot of projects that post and your agent is hustling to keep up. Then, after the holiday break, it’s crazy busy again as pilot season and commercials pick back up in full swing. This is why you should meet with your agent to discuss strategy etc, much earlier, like, October! Really!
If there is one thing you wish every actor would know or do what would it be?
Macy: Know that you already ‘are’ something, so you don’t have to ‘be’ something. You can always tell when something seems fake. The perfect example is in headshots….when people ‘try’ to look comedic, it can often feel too overdone.
When you have a strong sense of yourself, it comes across effortlessly in your photos and in your work as an actor. The key to headshots and to acting is to keep in mind the type of rolls you can play and be the person you already ‘are’ within that perimeter.
To learn more about Carrie Macy and her company visit:
*Photos Courtesy of Carrie Macy*
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