Yes, there is Truth (Real Truth) to uncover about Pay to Plays, and I am going to do my best to debunk some wild theories that are out there.
Truth: Agents make money when they do Pay to Plays. The host (the company where the Pay to Play is being held) pays the agent a portion of the profit to be there that night. Agents do not do these for free – they do not have the time nor the financial backing to do so.
Now, contrary to what you may be thinking, Pay to Plays are actually a VERY GOOD thing. Why? Because the reality is that the work-life of the agent (which quite frankly, I do not think actors think about but feel it is ESSENTIAL– learn more about that HERE) is one of “I do not have time.”
Agents are not Gods. They do not have time to meet 20 actors in a day because just like you they need to make a living. And making that living consists of getting their CURRENT clients auditions and negotiating their deals – not meeting new actors.
The only actors they make time to meet are actors who they have decided they may potentially need for their roster. Actors who have cold mailed them (ummmm…YES MAILINGS WORK – if you do not believe it, check out the Weekend Intensive, cause if done in the language of the Agents/Casting Directors, they REALLY do) or through a Casting Director referral, or through a client (probably one who is working and bringing in money to the agency) or a relative.
So, what does this mean to you, the non-connected actor? It means THANK GOODNESS for Pay to Plays because they give you direct access to the agent to show them your work. And without Pay to Plays, chances are your work may not get seen by that particular agent.
This is why I like Pay to Plays. Oh, and did I mention that my ENTIRE career started from doing pay to plays?
Yup. I was 16 years old when I went to my first one.
I had a lot of wacky thoughts about them… like the agent HAS to sign someone they meet that night.
Yes, I really thought that each time an agent did a Pay to Play, they had to take on a new client.
Now what’s funny about that is that thought actually MOTIVATED me. I mean, darn it! I was GOING TO BE THAT ACTOR and that motivation served me well as I “knew” I needed to be the best actor that night and get that coveted slot.
Please note: Agents are under NO OBLIGATION to sign an Actor per Pay to Play they do. That was just my Language of the Actor I was speaking in at that time.
What my teenage self DID understand is that that Pay to Play was an OPPORTUNITY for an agent to see my work and as far as I was concerned they were going to see my BEST.
Now THAT is how you want to go into a Pay to Play. “This is a fabulous opportunity for Agent X to see how good I am and discover that they MUST represent me because I am just THAT GOOD.”
Remember you are going in there to show off your work.
If you were a ceramicist, and you were bringing your pottery to show to a potential buyer, you would bring your most beautiful, most creative pots – not anything less.
Think of your Pay to Plays this way as well. You want to show the Agent your best stuff and you want to enjoy doing it because you know how good it is.
CONGRATS! Now you are in the rightly aligned place to do an Agent Pay to Play. What a difference, huh?
Good for you.
Now next week I will be blogging about How to Prepare for the Agent Pay to Play so you can really get booking… hope you’ll check it out.
P.S. We still have a few spots left for our October Weekend Intensive, you can sign up HERE