How to Start a Casting Agency

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To set up a casting agency you need a working knowledge of the acting and entertainment industry. You also need to be an experienced industry professional, such as a casting director, with a good list of contacts and professional actors and other artists on your books.

If, you don't have the necessary experience, you can learn the ropes by working as a graduate intern within a casting agency, a theatre, or television production company. Work your way up the ladder to gain sufficient experience and status to embark on starting your own agency.

Create a professional name for your casting agency that best suits your image as a casting agent. Often casting agents incorporate their own name and membership credentials of the CSA (Casting Society of America) into the business name of the company. Design a logo for your agency, so that it is ready for the front of your business premises and your business stationery. Use a graphic artist to help you create a professional logo to present a professional image.

Research the market and competitors to find your own niche in the casting agency market. Network to find important industry contacts. Gather research information to compile a business plan to assess the costs to set up the agency. Set up a business bank account to secure finance to start your agency. Apply for your business license, employers public liability insurance, and purchase a business tax ledger ready to record your business accounts.

Rent or purchase business premises large enough to accommodate your own office, a larger office and reception space for your staff, and to welcome clients, together with a casting suite and general amenities. Refurbish the office space to be a practical and efficient work environment.

Initially, you could start up your business from home providing you have sufficient space to set up a business-like office. When your business is sufficiently established, you can plan to expand.

Hire experienced staff such as an assistant casting director and casting assistant to help you find actors for your books, to deal with clients on your behalf, and to carry out the mundane paper work. Hire a receptionist to answer the telephone and to be the welcoming face to visitors.

Advertise for actors to fill your books. Advertise online via other casting sites, which provide casting breakdowns to artists who are always looking for casting agents whose books are not full. Publicize your business in ads in theatre magazines or newspapers. Get your agency listed in the Contacts book and Actors Handbook for the next year of publication. Go and see shows to seek out prospective talent.

Establish agency guidelines on who is eligible to apply to be on your books and how artists can seek representation with your agency. For instance, do you take people onto your books by audition, show-reel, or do you accept performance notices to see actors perform live in shows before you accept them onto your books? Decide on how many leading or character actors you can accept. Create an agency website as an online presence and create a photo database of your artists. Try to represent a significant percentage of named artists on your books to raise your reputation as a casting agency.

Contact theatre and production companies to receive casting information, so that you can send appropriate artists to auditions to gain potential employment. Contact actors about auditions. Negotiate employment contracts to get the best financial package for your artists to earn your commission fee for representing them.