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Sylvia Young Theatre School

The Agency

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to join?

Sylvia Young Agency does not charge any joining or admin fees; we work solely on commission.

That said, there are some costs which all actors should expect to pay in order to have a good chance of work.

Although it's technically possible to represent clients without professional headshots and without a listing in Spotlight, realistically it is very hard to secure appointments for clients without them.

It's an incredibly competitive market, and casting directors often find the talent they need exclusively on Spotlight and don't need to look any further.

We recommend that all our clients pay for a listing in The Spotlight. This currently costs £98 per year; clients also require professional headshots which we are able to arrange with our photographers for £60 per year.

Will my child have to miss school?

Almost all professional work involves some time off school/college; production schedules don't fit neatly into weekends or school holidays, so unfortunately it's not possible to represent clients who are unavailable during term time.

Under 16s have to be licensed by their local education authority before they are allowed to perform; as part of this process the school will be asked to grant permission for the time off, and a tutor will be provided by the production company if required. It's important that your school and headteacher are supportive of your child's acting career.

Can you guarantee work for your clients?

Like any agency, we can't guarantee work for our clients; neither can we guarantee auditions!

We receive casting breakdowns every day, and we suggest our clients for all the roles that they are suitable for. However there are many, many young people looking for acting work today, and only a limited number of appointments. For this reason, we ask that clients let us know in advance if they are going to be unavailable for castings or filming.

How much notice will you give us of auditions?

Typically casting directors give us appointments for castings the following day. This means that we usually contact clients with about 24 hours notice. As appointments are limited, it's essential that you let us know if you are unavailable in advance! Otherwise, we will expect you to be able to get to central London the next day, for an audition some time between 4pm and 6pm.

Adult appointments are usually during the daytime, and we may be given less than 24 hours notice, so it's iimportant that you are always contactable, and that you inform us of any work shifts or college commitments which might prevent you from getting to castings.

Where do jobs take place?

A lot of the work we handle takes place in London or around the south east of England, however as the UK is a world leader in the creative industries, we reguarly work on projects which take place abroad. We also regularly work on touring theatre productions, and on TV/Film shoots which film on location across the UK.

Can I be represented by more than one agency?

Like most agencies, we insist on having sole representation of our clients, and ask that all work offers are directed to us. The reason for this is that we need to be certain that we know exactly when our clients are available for work, and which jobs they are booked on.

If an actor is represented by two different agencies, they could end up being booked for two different jobs on the same day, which would be disasterous! Likewise, if you're approached directly about a job, please refer it to us- we need to ensure that the correct fees are paid, that child performance regulations are being adhered to; and it may be a job that we have previous declined, as we have concerns about it.

Do you handle modelling work?

Our primary focus is drama work, although we do also work on modelling and catwalk jobs from time to time; generally when the producers are looking for specific performance skills in addition to the right 'look'. If your main interest is in modelling rather than drama, you may be better off applying to a specialist modelling agency, as the acting and modelling industries are quite different things.

I live a long way from London – should I apply?

We have represented clients from across the UK, and even overseas. So it's certainly possible to be represented by a London agent even if you don't live near the capital. However you should bear in mind that producers will often consider talent with London agents to be 'London based', and won't make any allowances for the additional time and expense involved in getting to auditions. Commercials cast in the south-east may not provide accomodation for talent based further afield, so you may need to arrange for somewhere local to stay the night before the shoot.

That said, self taping is increasingly becoming the norm for the first stage of the casting process, meaning that you can send a video to the casting director in the first instance, and only travel to London if you are brought through to the second round. See "What is a self tape?" for more information.

What is a Self Tape, and how do I make one?

It's increasingly common for casting directors to ask actors to 'self tape' for a role instead of bringing them in for an intital meeting with an assistant. This means filming yourself reading the lines, using a smart phone or tablet (though a DSLR or video camera is fine if you have one).

If they like what they see on the tape, they will then bring the actor in to meet in person, or sometimes bring them straight in for a meeting with the director.
This is a good thing, as it means that many more actors get a chance to be considered for a role than would be possible with traditional first round meetings. It also saves you the time and expense of travelling into central London for a role that you might not be quite right for.
However in order to stand out from the crowd and give yourself the best chance, it's essential to follow a few simple rules, which we'll discuss below.

  • Firstly, choose a brightly lit room to record in, and make sure you're against a plain background- a white wall is best. Unless you're told otherwise, you only need the head and shoulders in frame. Don't film in high quality mode, or the resulting file will be huge, and it'll take you hours to upload it!
  • Secondly, ask a parent or friend to operate the camera, and to read the other characters' lines. They should make sure that they are not too close to the microphone, and that they speak quietly, otherwise their voice will be much louder than yours!
  • Thirdly- use a tripod. Wobbly camera work is distracting and detracts from a good performance. If you don't have one, improvise! If you're using an iPhone, a blob of blu-tak and a suitably high surface will do.
  • Fourthly- make sure you hold the camera in landscape orientation, not portrait. If you're not sure what this means, look at your TV set- your video should look like that, wider than it is tall. This is the number one error that self-tapers make and it makes your video look amateurish.
  • Finally, when you've finished, send the video to us using a file transfer service; we like as it's free and straightforward to use. Just visit the website in your browser, type in your address, the recipient's address, attach the file and hit send.
  • If you're using a smart phone or tablet to record, you can download the free WeTransfer app which allows you to send the video directly from the photos folder on your device.

You should only send videos to us; please don't upload them yourself to YouTube or similar. In many cases the script that you are asked to film is confidential, and it's important that it doesn't get leaked out to the public. Here are a few more tips and suggestions on self taping from a casting director.

Find us at 1 Nutford Place, London, W1H 5YZ.