IFH 056

IFH 056: Do You Need an Agent to Make it in Hollywood?


Is an agent or talent agency needed to make it in Hollywood? Well, it helps! Seriously, this is a question I get asked all the time.

In this episode, I go over what you need to do to get an agent and also help you figure out if you need one right now. Below are the seven major talent agencies in Hollywood.

APA Talent Agency

Size: 3,400 clients; 325 employees (210 agents, 15 managing partners); offices in Los Angeles, New York, and Nashville

Origin story: Founded in 1962 by former MCA agents David BaumgartenRoger Vorce and Harvey Litwin.

CAA Talent Agency

Size: About 5,000 clients; 1,500+ employees; 11 offices worldwide, including in China

Origin story: Founded in 1975 by William Morris agents Mike RosenfeldMichael OvitzRon MeyerBill Haber, and Rowland Perkins.

GERSH Talent Agency

Size: About 2,000 clients; 175 employees (75 agents, 16 partners); offices in L.A. and New York

Origin story: Founded in 1949 by Phil Gersh.

ICM PARTNERS Talent Agency

Size: 4,500+ clients; 400+ employees (200+ agents and execs, 40 partners); four offices

Origin story: Formed in 1975 with the merger of Creative Management Associates and International Famous Agency.

PARADIGM Talent Agency

Size: 2,500 clients; 370+ employees (160 agents); six offices

Origin story: Founded in 1992 by Sam Gores through the mergers and acquisitions of several boutiques

UTA Talent Agency

Size: 3,000+ clients; 500 employees (200 agents, 46 partners); offices in L.A. and New York

Origin story: Founded in 1991 with the merger of Bauer-Benedek and Leading Artists.

WME | IMG Talent Agency

Size: 4,000+ clients; nearly 5,000 employees (200 agents) in 25+ countries

Origin story: WME | IMG was founded in 2014 with the merger of IMG and WME, which was founded in 2009 with the takeover of William Morris by upstart Endeavor.

Hope this episode helps you out on your journey to get an agent. Good luck!

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So guys, today we're going to tackle a question that I get asked all the time. And it's a question I've asked myself so many times during my career, do you need an agent to make it in Hollywood? Do you need an agent to get you work? Well, it's a catch 22. Guys, it's the egg the chicken in the egg. See, the way it works is that agents and managers, which are there are, they're different, and I'll explain the difference in a minute. But agents specifically, don't want you until you can make money for them. And you can't make money for them until you have them. And a lot of ways, so it becomes a catch 22 for the artists. So the way you should walk into when you start looking for an agent is when you have something to offer an agent when you have. That's why when you see these young directors get picked up at Sundance agents are all over them, because they know they can sell them easy. And that's the thing agents want to be able to sell and make money off of you because that's their job, they're there to represent you get you work, and then they make a commission off that, if it's a hard sell, then they're going to be exerting a lot of energy, not making a lot of ROI or return on investment. So when you have when you like perfect example is your director, you've directed a few things, you haven't really made anything big yet, you haven't even made a feature film yet you just been doing a lot of shorts, or a lot of really low budget features, I haven't really seen any light of day, and you start looking for an agent agents not going to look at you because unless that agent sees something in you that they say, Oh, I can go sell that I can sell this, I can make money with this, then maybe that's the story of what happened with Robert Rodriguez. When Robert had just got to town with El Mariachi, and a short film, he met an agent, a young agent, who now is one of the biggest agents directing agents in Hollywood. But at the time, he was a young agent, still an agent, you know, an agent coming up, but an agent nevertheless. And he saw what Robert did with El Mariachi, he said, I can sell this, and he took a chance on Robert. And within a matter of a few weeks, he was the toast of the town. And those are the legendary stories you hear what agents can do for directors. But those are again, as always, lottery ticket examples. They're not, they are the exception, they're definitely not the norm. It does happen, but not often. So to be more pragmatic about how to approach an agent, is when you have something you can sell. When you have a feature film, when you have some heat on you, when you've won major award at a major festival, when you just sold a big, big movie to you know, let's say you made an independent film an action movie and you were able to sell it for a million dollars. And now you have, you know, a successful feature under your belt, all of a sudden, you become much more appetizing to agents to be able to be picked up from an agency. And even then there's hierarchies of agencies either you're not going to want to get picked up by a big agency right away. You don't want to be picked up by a CA right away because you'll be one of a million clients that they're dealing with. And they're only going to be focusing a lot of their energy on the big ticket guys, that guys were bringing in the 510 million $20 million paydays because that's where that that's where the agency makes the most money. Again, guys, this is a business this is nothing personal. It's a this is a business. So I would start off with a smaller agency and hat because that way, they will give you more attention, you are one of a few as opposed to one of many in a stable. So I would I would focus on getting smaller agencies to pick you up if you have an opportunity to get picked up at all. I have a friend of mine who's a screenwriter. And he won. He won a really big screenwriting competition or multiple amount actually. And because of that, he got an agent, that agent sat on his ass for I'm gonna say a year and a half, two years never got him a dime, never sent him out on anything. He just signed them. And basically my poor buddy just hung out and try to hustle work and then basically anything time, he had a job, or he had a job that he found himself, he would go to the agent and the agent would negotiate it for him, you know, which is hilarious. And then the agent would take 10%, for doing nothing really, literally doing nothing, didn't get any work. So that's what happens. Sometimes when you get an agent, it's not all assaults cracked up to be, just because you get an agent doesn't mean that you're going to automatically start getting checks sent to you, or you're going to be going out for these big major movies or a TV show, directing gig, or commercials or music videos or anything like that, it doesn't happen that way. It takes time. So you have to walk into negotiations with an agent, or an agency in an in a position of power in a position of offering them value, you're selling yourself to them in that sense, because you want them to help you get work. And you have to show that you have if you're a writer, you don't have one script, you've got 10 scripts in your bag, as well as a couple of pilots, and maybe a web series or two. That way, they have something that they can go out and sell directors, if you're a director or Writer Director, you better have two or three scripts back to back, you ready to have your next project lined up, if you have your next project lined up with financing already. And there and this agency is going to help you package this next movie, boom, that's a great marriage made in heaven right there because they can start making money with you, you can start leveraging their resources that help you get bigger, get bigger, get faster, and grow your career at a faster clip. Again, it's mutual guides, you can't walk into an agent's office and just go, what can you do for me? What can you do for me? What can you do for me, because that's not the way it works. It's a mutual beneficial relationship, and you have to be able to offer them something. And you also have to make sure you find an agency and an agent that's going to offer you something in return and not just sign you just assign you and set you on a shelf somewhere. So that happens all the time, the second that they think they can sell you and they can't, all of a sudden you become chopped liver, they throw you up on the shelf, and they never seen you never hear from them, they never work for you. And there you go. So and the difference by the way, guys, between an agent and a manager, and agents of ours is about getting you work, it's about going out there and getting your work while a manager manages your career, they kind of guide you, they're your financial planner, instead of your stockbroker, your stockbroker is there to make a commission and sell and sell you stocks and get you you know, get you stocks and sold. While a business manager or a manager in general, they're there to manage everything, they're looking at long term goals as opposed to short term gains. So that's what a manager is, I always say, try to get a good manager first, before you go after an agent. That way you have someone that can help guide you throughout your career as opposed to just going out and getting you work. And the managers are good managers. They're through the thick and through the thin. They were there when you are getting your Oscar and you're there. They're there when nobody returns your calls. And that's what a good manager does. They manage your career, and they guide you in a way that will hopefully take your career to the next level. So hope this episode helped you guys out a little bit in regards to an agent and what it needs, what you need to do to get an agent. And if you even need an agent right now don't always forget you might not need an agent at the beginning of your career. It's actually kind of a waste because they're not unless they're gonna go knock on doors for you. Which chances are they're not. I would wait until you have something to offer them again before you go out and looking for an agent. All right. Don't forget to head over to filmmaking podcast.com filmmaking podcast calm and leave us a review a good review hopefully, for our show. It really helps us out a lot. All the Show Notes for this episode are an indie film, hustle, calm forward slash zero 56. Also guys, don't forget that we are still taking members of our launch team for the Anya crowdfunding campaign that we're going to be launching in the next coming weeks. So don't forget if you are interested in being part of the launch team and getting inside access on how we actually do this crowdfunding campaign. Head over to launch at our email launch at indie film hustle calm launch at indie film, hustle calm. And if you want to sign up to find out when we're going to release this awesome full access membership site to the entire process of how we make this movie. Head over to indie film hustle comm forward slash full access. Keep that hustle going keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you guys soon.




  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
  3. Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)

Free Training of The Week


How to Produce a Profitable Low Budget Feature Film

By Suzanne Lyons

Join veteran producer Suzanne Lyons as she shows you the three key secrets to produce a successful and profitable independent film.