On 16th July 2018, Casting Days is running a ‘Meet The Agents’ seminar, in which actors have the opportunity to ask top prestigious agents, such as Neil McNulty from Conway Van Gelder Grant, their absolute burning questions to help them make it as an actor.
Conway Van Gelder Grant were established over 40 years ago and continue to be at the forefront of the international entertainment industry, representing respected talent around the world, including the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Helena Bonham Carter and Joanna Lumley.
Casting Days have managed to catch up with Neil before the seminar, to ask him some of our own burning questions!!
1. How did you become an agent?
I was an actor with CVGG for 10 years, before I decided to hang up the doublet and hose and jump over the fence to the other side, and luckily, as I had such a good relationship here already, they offered me, at first a 3 month internship, and then a job.
2. How should an actor approach an agency for representation?
Every agency is different, and even within that, every agent is different. I prefer to receive anything by email with a cover letter, headshot, CV, and showreel if you have it; this is the best way I feel.
3. When actors apply to Conway Van Gelder Grant, what makes a submission stand out to you or other agents?
The first thing is a cover letter not feeling generic, like I could look across the street in Soho and see someone else in another agency reading the exact same words. Also a good strong headshot; I don’t need to see 10-15 different pics, just one that shows who you are, so I can get a sense of you.
4. Are showreels important? If yes, what makes a good showreel?
Yes, hugely. It is basically a moving headshot, and gives us a chance to see what type of an actor you are. They are especially useful if you are writing when you’re not in a show or on the TV, because it gives us something more to go on, in deciding if we are interested in meeting you.
5. Is where an actor studied/trained important to you?No, it’s really not. I thought, when I was an actor, that it did, but I can promise you it doesn’t. I mean, you will sometimes have associations with people at certain drama schools. For example, I trained at RSAMD, and sometimes I will speak to them and they will let me know there is someone in a particular year to keep an eye on, but it’s more about the actor, than where they trained, to be honest.
6. What advice would you give to an actor before they go to a really big casting that could change their career?
The strange thing about this business, is that every casting is “really big and could change their career”, so I wouldn’t give them any advice. You should prepare as best you can for all the meetings, be that Star Wars or Sainsbury’s, because you never know who you might work with on that job and where it might lead.
7. Can you tell when you meet certain actors that they have something really special and will be able to go far? (Anyone spring to mind you could mention?)
I think it’s all down to personal taste. I have seen some actors at drama school and thought nothing of them, and they have gone on to be huge stars or visa versa. Sometimes it’s hard to tell, but yes there are some people who walk into a room with such ease and confidence, you just know from the energy in the room that they are going to be good; it’s hard to explain.
8. What do you enjoy most about being an agent?
I think it’s the collaborative side of it, making decisions about a project and career moves with the clients, and seeing them grow as people and actors. Good agenting for me is about being hands on, and working together; that’s when you get lasting partnerships and, hopefully, success.
9. If you could give one general piece of advice to actors about the industry and how to keep moving forward and being a success, what would it be?
Always prepare, be professional, and remember how lucky you are to still be following what is, most likely, a childhood dream.
To book tickets onto our next seminar, which will include Nicky Raby, Conway Van Gelder Grant & United Agents, on 16th July 6-10pm, including networking and complimentary drinks after.