8 Reasons why I Joined an Actors’ Co-operative
Written by Mark Rowlands
In this month’s Circuit Blog, I explain my reasons for joining an Actor’s Co-operative rather than going with a traditional Agent for representation. As you will read below there are benefits to either route.
Let me say upfront that this article is a team effort, I asked colleagues at Circuit to send me their thoughts before I put pen to paper and we’ve all authorised the finished article before publishing.
This point alone illustrates one of the key benefits of being in a Co-op; we all make contributions and learn from each other whilst drawing on each other’s combined wisdom and experience.
Professionalism. Reputation is very important to us. Joining a Co-op means that you are an ‘agent’ as well as an ‘actor’ which automatically raises your game. We have to take responsibility because it is our business.
Motivation. We have monthly meetings, training events, office days, daily communication by phone and email, ‘face to face’ contact with colleagues. You keep your eye on the ball. It feels safe. Gives us structure. And when we have success we pat each other on the back. Motivation!
Mutual Support. “The whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts”. We celebrate together and we share the knock backs. We have actors old and young, with varied backgrounds and experiences. Knowledge and ideas are shared.
Career Ownership. In a Co-op you can’t blame your agent for lack of auditions or work because you ARE the agent. This forces you to own your career, analyse your strengths and weaknesses and fill any gaps. But you can do this in the safe environment of the Co-op.
Learning New Skills. Inevitably when you are acting as an agent you will be exposed to tasks which require different skill sets. We have internal supervised training for new recruits and we have training manuals for reference which are constantly updated. Training is ongoing.
Empathy for Casting Directors and Hirers. Because we act as Agents we develop a better understanding of how the casting process works. We operate Spotlight, the back office, we deal with contracts, receipts and payments. Sometimes it’s a difficult juggling act but happily we all get regular acting work. We understand that it’s ‘quality not quantity’ when it comes to submissions.
Autonomy and Control. We are all shareholders in the Co-op. We have a constitution and there are rules to follow and processes to adhere to. At the same time we are all responsible for the direction we take and can each design our own individual careers without feeling pressure to go for every audition.
Democracy and Transparency. As equal shareholders we all get a say in decisions. Things are put to a vote and we ‘buy in’ to the results. We can see what castings are coming through and who is being subbed for what. We don’t compete with each other, we support one another.
Being part of an Actor’s Cooperative may not suit everyone and I suppose we all have to make decisions based on what we feel is our ‘best fit’. For me, being part of a Co-op suits me on so many levels and I’m in a happy place right now.
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Written by Mark Rowlands