Casting Networks had the chance to interview Neil McNulty, an agent on the commercial side of Conway van Gelder Grant (CvGG), to find out what it’s like to work at such a prestigious agency, with clients at the company such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Helena Bonham Carter, Tuppence Middleton, and Michael Gambon to name a few. We discussed how actors can approach them and some of the good things actors should consider doing. Neil works alongside a team to get his actors in for some very lovely castings with high profile brands and well known casting directors, a delicate job requiring a lot of skill.
Casting Networks: When you’re working for one of the most well known agencies in the country, you must be inundated with actor letters and emails seeking representation. What makes someone stand out to you?
NM: What a tough one to start with. It’s not always what you would think, sometimes it’s a great headshot, or an interesting look, something that we don’t have on the books already. Also I will always take the time to have a look at showreels, as it is the best way to get an idea of the type of performance the actor/actress is capable of giving, and also gives you a feel for them as a performer.
CNI: What do you think is the number one thing an actor should consider before applying to a high profile agency like CvGG?
NM: I would say the number one thing is that you have looked into the agency, seen the type of work current clients are booking, and make sure it matches up with where you want your career to go in the future. And if you are invited to meet one of the agents, that you make sure that you have a connection. At the end of the day, that is the person who will work with you to forward your career, so you have to feel comfortable that you can talk to them about anything.
CNI: And do you think showreels are important for actors to have when reaching out to an agent, like yourselves?
NM: Yes, as I mentioned, I personally use showreels a lot, they’re a really handy tool to get a feel for a performer. Even if you don’t have a lot of professional material when applying, a little is better than none. The one thing I would say is get it done professionally; the higher the quality, the better it will look. Think of it as a moving headshot; you want it to grab people.
CNI: Do you find that there are things your actors can do who you work with to make your job easier as an agent? What are some of those things?
NM: I suppose the main thing is to be professional, Always prepare for meetings, and where you can, be off book, time keeping, and also having the confidence of your convictions in an audition, know what you want to put across and go for it. Sometimes it will be what they want and sometimes it won’t, but as long as you’ve done what you went in to do then, as an agent, that’s all I can ask. And lastly, enjoy it; believe it or not, it always shows through.
CNI: Do you think Casting Directors have lists, and do you feel like you have to work hard to get on those alleged “lists” for your actors?
NM: I don’t believe they have “lists” so to speak, but certainly if you work a lot with certain casting directors, you build up a relationship with them, and that makes it easier to push an actor you believe is right for the part. But it goes both ways, you only get this relationship in the first place by putting up the right people for the right parts and not wasting their time, so it’s a bit of give and take.
CNI: When did you start working for CvGG? And during your time as an agent, what have you enjoyed the most?
NM: I started with CVGG in 2014, having been a client with them for 10 years previous, before I decided to hang up my doublet and hoes.
The most enjoyable thing about the job is still being involved in an industry that I love and has given me so much joy over the years, and now to be on the other side of the fence and working to make sure my own clients have the opportunities that I had as an actor. It’s also a lovely feeling when a client books on a job, those are without a doubt my favourite phone calls to make, when all the hard work pays off.
CNI: If you had your time over would you be an agent again?
NM: Of course, either that or a Professional Beer and Pork Scratching Taster, but I don’t think that’s a real job . . . yet.