How does a free agency work
Finally explainedHow important are agencies for actors?
Only those who are firmly committed to a theater are currently a bit lucky in the disaster of the pandemic - because many theaters can apply the social law rules for short-time work during the closure decreed by cities, states and the federal government. The life situation beyond that is extremely dramatic for all those who are not permanently engaged: for a season only or usually for two years, maybe even irreversible until they retire after fifteen years of permanent employment on a stage. Those who work freely, who have either voluntarily given up their permanent ties to a theater or who have not yet looked for and found one, are generally moving on very uncertain, extremely risky terrain.
In the network of agencies and producers
Every actress and every actor in the "free" scene would do well to hire an agency to market their own talent. A little statistics, without claim to completeness and beyond the existing state mediation within the framework of the "Employment Agency" - 66 companies and 149 agents are employed in the "Association of Agencies for Film, Television and Theater" (VdA) alone to bring wages and salaries to over 2500 actors and over 300 authors; in addition, a good 400 directors and almost 100 cameramen. The extraordinarily successful agencies include those of Sanna Hübchen and Bernhard Hoestermann, who died five and a half years ago; They are based in Berlin, where "Die Agenten" have now also moved, a group founded in Hamburg. The agencies are generally at home in the central locations of television and film production in Germany - especially in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne. They are firmly interwoven in the network of producers and production companies, the main task being the mediation between the projects and the ensemble working in front of or behind the camera, on or behind the stages.
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Looking for a profile
The agency service costs, of course - the artists that are placed pay the agencies a percentage of the fee. Working together in this private setting is a mixture of artistic knowledge of human nature and psychology, market value and magic - the requirement profile of the product must match or be brought into line with the talent, abilities and skills of the provider. Few are - as we say the actor Thomas Thieme - always and actually occupied with a clear profile; Thieme, for example, as a "heavy hero" like Helmut Kohl, Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Borgward or, in the near future, Otto von Bismarck. With someone like him, you can basically feel the very last echo of the old "role subjects" that have been useless in the theater for a very long time. Everyone should be able to play anything on stage by now - in front of the camera is (and will probably remain) different for the time being. Perhaps that is also why the theater ultimately generates far more freedom and depth of field in the arts.
The hurdle "casting"
Even if, with the help of the agencies, a kind of "harmony" has been created between profile and talent on the artistic side and structure and planning on the production side, "casting" can still take place - that is the central hurdle before contracts be closed in television and film; very rarely also in the theater. "Cast" is the cast in the cinema; And anyone who became a television junkie in the past year of the pandemic has learned about the immense importance of casting agencies in the "Tatort" episodes from now 50 years. How they actually work, ie who is "cast" where and for what, is possibly an even bigger mystery than the placement strategies of agencies; And also in the professional group "Casting" there are something like legends: Anja Dihrberg, for example, also at home in Berlin - whenever Messrs Ballauf and Schenk investigate in Cologne, she played a decisive role in the cast of the ensemble around it.
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Actors who were previously permanently engaged in smaller and larger theater ensembles appear regularly on the screen - for example Nina Gummich in the third "Charité" season (most recently permanently in the ensemble of the Hans-Otto-Theater in Potsdam), in the Cologne "Tatort" Ulrike Krumbiegel (formerly at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin), or (also in a "Charité" episode) Johanna Link, who was engaged in Constance; Bernhard Schütz was one of the pillars of Frank Castorf's Volksbühne, Hilmar Eichhorn was just leaving the "new theater" in Halle for retirement. They are something like regulars. Some, such as Schütz, the aforementioned Thomas Thieme (most recently at the Berlin Schaubühne) or the former Zadek actress Mechthild Grossmann (now "prosecutor" at the "Tatort" in Münster), have meanwhile said goodbye to the theater very fundamentally; which is always a shame.
Different career paths
However, those who have recently and recently completed their studies in acting are now quite naturally embarking on the various career paths - between stage, television and film, and with an agency for as much as possible. In the pandemic, this diversity and versatility is a real straw, often a lifebuoy - especially, as operators of independent theaters such as Munich's Jochen Schölch complain, are pushing actors and actresses with enormous energy to survive into the last, still unrestricted areas of current media production, for example into Television, which is allowed to continue producing under the strictest hygiene rules (and unlike the theater, which is closed despite the strictest rules!). The consequences are in no way foreseeable - but they will increase the pressure on the market, in which freelance actors operate, in the long term and in a way that is difficult to bear. If you want to keep playing because he or she has to play, you still need strong nerves, a thick skin - and support, of any kind and from wherever.
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