ML Talent Agency

ML Talent Agency

Toronto's Top Background Agency for Extras!

The Booking Process and how it all works!

Hi there,

First off want to thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog, and for being part of my agency.   I hope you find this helpful.  

I thought it could be useful to write a blog on our booking process so everyone has a better understanding of how things work. I have also included some frequently asked questions too.

I am very interested in always trying to improve our systems and make things better for everyone.  If you have any comments, complaints or just general inquiries that I have not covered in this blog please feel free to email me melissa@mltalent.com  


The film industry is a seasonal business and things aree much slower than usual at that of time of year.  Do not get discouraged if you do not get  alot of calls from late Nov well into April.  This is very normal and happens every year.  Please note that changes in the amount of shows shooting will vary during these slower months.  We should be in full swing by now, however it seems we have a slow start to the year.  But we are going to be RAMMED this summer!  : ) 

HERE ARE SOME KEY POINT BELOW:

  • We use both email and text messaging in order to contact talent for work.  Please note just bc we ask you to work, does not mean you are actually booked.  When we email out an order, we contact more talent than available spots.  Not everyone is available all of the time this is why we do this.  Also at times some shows are no repeats at all or no repeats within a specified amount of time.  You are booked only when you get a “booked expect an email” response from the agency.

  • When you are officially booked for a show you will get a message back from us saying “booked expect an email.”  If you do not get this message or do not hear back from us you are not booked and will not be working.  We have gotten complaints recently about talent not getting emails back after they said they were available.  We recognize this is a big problem with the agency and we are working on fixing this issue. We apologize to any of  you who have experienced this.  We have many different bookers at the agency all using the same email and all working on different projects etc.  due to the volume of emails we get sadly sometimes things get missed.  Also please note because we work so quickly if you respond hours after we contact you the booking will be gone and you may not get an email back.

  • We work very quickly in this industry so the quicker you get back to us the more bookings you likely will get.   Even if you are NA, please respond back letting us know you are not available.  Please note when we get orders for different shows, within these orders we may only have 1 or 2 spots for your look. ( meaning age, ethnicity etc)  We are under a lot of pressure to complete the bookings quickly for our clients, so quick responses are key. If you get back to us too late, sometimes even by five minutes may be too late,  you may not get the booking.   Please note we understand this can be frustrating, it is for us too, as we want everyone to work as much as possible.  In this blog, I m trying to help everyone understand how the booking process actually works.  

  • We never know the call time or location when we book you.  We will provide you with as much information as we have when we contact you.  Please do not take a booking if you have any time or location restrictions.  All bookings are TTC accessible, unless otherwise stated.  If a project is shooting out of town we will always let you know if a complimentary shuttle is available or not.

  • Amount of work.  Background work is not a full time job. Background work is occasional work only, and is very seasonal.  ( summer time busy - winter very slow )  We can only book talent based on the requests of the casting director or producer. BG work ( background work ) can be very specific, based on sizing, look in general, ethnicity, age, wardrobe etc. do not be offended or upset if you are not chosen for all projects.  Sometimes it may look like there are many shows shooting in Toronto.  I’m sure many of you have asked yourself, “ why am I not getting booked for this job?” Every agency does not get every job available.  Orders from casting typically are divided up amongst different agencies.  ML Talent may only get orders from casting that are 20-40yrs old and upscale, while another agency may get all kids.  It varies.  Another important note to consider is how many background are on the shoot day.  If it’s a small day, the first 30 will always be actra members meaning there may be no non union / AABP on the day.  

  • Reminder it's important to keep track of when you were on a show and what you played.  You cannot be a doctor today and go back on the same show tomorrow as the janitor.  Typically speaking depending on the set we need to allow a good two weeks from the time you work till when you work on that same show again.  If you are playing the same character each time then you may be allowed to work more than once in a closer period of time and or also if you are working on continuity.

  • How much do we get paid sometimes it's a flat rate and sometimes we do not get told a rate? ( non union / aabp )   Rates vary depending on the project.  Regular background work on a union film is $12.50 per hour with an 8 hour minimum.  This means if you work less than 8 hours you are still paid 8 hours.  Please note you are not paid for your lunch.  Actra Rates are based on the IPA and are approx.  $26.22 per hour with the 8 hour minimum.  If you are non union and working on a non union project the rates will vary depending on production is paying.  Commercial and print jobs will also vary in fee being paid and will be told to you at the time of the booking.  Cheques take 14 business days not including weekends or holidays to come into the office.  When they arrive we will send you an invoice to pay online and will notify you that it has arrived and ready for pickup.  

  • Do I have to come into the office to collect my cheques?  Yes you do need to come and collect your cheques at our office. If you want your cheques mailed please send us self addressed envelopes, when we send you an invoice that your cheque has arrived simply pay the invoice online and remind us to mail out your cheques to you.  Why do we not do email money transfer?  We have thousands of clients, banks set limits on how much businesses can transfer within a day. Based on our volume this is not an option.  Also the bank frowns upon us depositing cheques that are not endorsed.  We are working on better ways to make it more convenient for everyone.  If your cheque is at our office, you can request a mobile deposit.  Meaning we can email you a copy of your cheque front and back and you can deposit through your cell phone. 

  • What are fittings? What do we do?  Talent get paid 2 hours for a fitting, or sometimes more depending on what they may be fitting you for.  Typically they are very quick but they can go longer so make sure you have an open schedule if requested to stay longer than the 2 hours.  This is where production tries clothes on you, and or has requested you to bring your own clothing to try on.  Please note they usually do not give you a voucher to fill out at the fitting so it is urgent that on your scheduled work date that you mark on your voucher that you went for a 2 hour fitting in order to be paid.

  • Call times. Once you are booked for a show you will get an email with all of your information for the next day's shoot.  Call times and info come the night before your shoot any time from 9pm till midnight.  It is urgent that once you get your information that you email us back stating that you got your info and that all is clear to you.  We cannot finish our job or go to bed until all talent are confirmed.

  • Updating photos is key. People change their look all of the time.  We need to keep your profile on our database current. Please note it is imperative to come and get your photos done.  When picking up cheques ask to get new photos done. Its free and really adds to your profile.

  • Why is no one responding to me?  Please do not expect a response from us if you are emailing in your availability. If we can use you we will get back to you. Due to the high volume of emails we receive we cannot respond and say thanks etc to every email regarding availability.  We will respond back to specific questions and problems only. 

 

  • ML Talent only recently started taking on children.  This change has been very successful, however please note this is not where the majority of bookings come from. So do not be discouraged if your child has not worked a lot.  It is not them, it's the industry.  This is the reason we take children on for FREE.  Also please note that productions are smart and shoot their films typically around when children are not in school so they have more availability. However that said,  kids are always needed. We currently take kids 17 and under on for free of charge. Register today www.mltalent.com. Click submit and upload pics and your child is on their way to the movie industry.

  • Seasonal Business.  Please note the film industry is a seasonal business.  They film industry really slows down in the winter months.  The reason for this is because it is very difficult to create summer scenes when we have snow outside.  Do not take it personally if you are not working very much. This is the industry.  The season slows down from December thru until March - end of April each year.  ( It varies year to year ) That said there still is work but just less of it. 

  • Do I have to join ML Talent Agency? Or can I simply watch their Facebook page to get work?

    Please note that we post less than 10% of the jobs ML Talent Agency gets on Facebook. Typically the posts on Facebook are for jobs we are having difficulty filling from within our roster.  Sometimes we also post jobs on Facebook to acquire quick availability  for last minute projects or location specific projects.  Please note all priority is given to those who are actually registered with the agency. Only if we cannot fulfill a booking with our current roster will we book outside of it.

 

Hope this little blog helps to clarify the booking process a little more for those of you who are new to the industry.

As stated above I am always working very hard  to improve our systems and make things more amazing for everyone.  If you have any comments, complaints or just general inquiries that I have not covered in this blog please feel free to email me melissa@mltalent.com  

One note we love talent photos of you on sets, in costume, with lead actors!! Or just you in general. We are happy to post you on our instagram which can be a great promotional tool.  And or put you on our walk of fame in the office.  Email me your photos

FOLLOW US TODAY!  Like us on Facebook and or please write a glowing review! hahaha If it's negative I would love to hear from you first before posting something, so we can make whatever went wrong right! :  ) 

Twitter @mltalent

Facebook facebook.com/mltalent

The Major Myth about Hamilton Agencies! BE CAREFUL!!

MYTH BUSTERS RE: Hamilton agencies.

I decided to write a quick note on the Myth about having a Hamilton Agency versus a Toronto agency.  A Lot of people who live in Hamilton, think you have to be with a Hamilton agency in order to get work in Hamilton.  THIS IS NOT TRUE, this is a myth.  

Casting directors give work to legitimate agencies no matter where they are located.  Please note that ML Talent agency has many performers who live outside of the GTA who frequently work not only in Hamilton but also in Toronto and other surrounding areas.  We are currently accepting new clients.

There has been some recent closures of Hamilton agencies over the last couple of months.  This has caused performers who had agents in that area worry as to how they will now get work.  If you are new to the industry and live outside of the GTA do not get fooled into thinking that you have to join a Hamilton agency or local town agency to get work in your area. This is a myth.  If you register with ML Talent Agency your likelihood of working in Hamilton and other outside locations is much higher than a new start up in one of these regions.  Not only could it limit the amount of work you get ( read below for more precise details ) but it will also possibly limit your work in other areas like Toronto as well.  Please note the majority of jobs in the film industry shoot in Toronto regardless.

.ML Talent Agency has been providing extras both in and out of the GTA for over 17 years.  With technology these days it doesn’t matter where you are from.  One important note to keep in mind also when looking for an agent is written below.  

Be careful, and do your research carefully before joining an agency you may regret.  

Here are some tips below:

Does the Background Agency you are considering have an office?

Having an office location is often a good indicator that the agency plans on being around for a long time. Having an office where you can drop by, visit and interact with your agent, pick up cheques, take new photos, and get tips on bettering your career (look and wardrobe for example) .  Having an office is a sign of credibility, responsibility and commitment to you.  

TTAA membership

The TTAA ( Toronto Talent Agency Association) is comprised of Toronto’s reputable agencies.  The TTAA has a code of ethics which all of the agents who are members adhere to.  Check to see if the agency that interests you is a part of the TTAA.

WHO TO AVOID

Avoid online agencies that have no local presence whatsoever.  Often they make claims of placing you in a database, but they have no contacts with local casting directors, and no way of contacting them.

Why paying a registration fee is important.

It is standard industry practice for an agency to charge a registration fee.  This fee ranges from $75- $150. This registration fee covers the administration of building a database, taking photos and ensuring that your profile is up to date year round. This is the responsibility of a good agent.  Beware of agencies that never charge any fees.  These agencies are often desperate to create a roster.  They are often very new, not established agencies with few connections in the industry.  Having a small roster is a vicious cycle, the smaller the roster, the less bookings, if any, the agency gets.  Getting a free registration, does not get you more work.  You get what you pay for.

Exception to the rule:  Sometimes an agency may not charge a registration fee to a performer if they are looking for a very specific look that is not on their roster.  Usually that individual would work only one time on one specific movie.

Is it good to have multiple agents or just one agent?

Performers are entitled to have more than one background agency.  However, personally I do not recommend joining every agency, or having multiple agents.

HERE IS WHY:

1. You waste your money paying registration fees to multiple agencies.  Having multiple agents does not guarantee an increase in your bookings.  There are only so many shows shooting in each city.  Each time you work on a series there is a waiting period of approximately 2 weeks before you can come back and work on the same show.  For example, you cannot play a doctor on TV series one day, and come back on the same show the next day as a  different character (a janitor for example). You can however be booked for continuity as the same character on consecutive days.   Having multiple agents does make you exempt from that rule and thus does not increase your chances of being booked.

2.  Having multiple agents can create difficulty for casting directors that want to hire you as they don’t know which of your agents to contact.  This also can make it difficult for your agent to know your availability.

3.  Having one agent helps you stay more organized.  You no longer need to remember what agent booked you for which show and who you need to pay.

4. The easier you are to work with and book, the more bookings you will probably get.

Diversity of work.

Consider the following:

  • Types of roles the agency can provide (TV, Movies, Print ads, Commercials, corporate videos and actor roles)  Not all agencies provide this mix.

  • The number of extras the agency has booked who have been upgraded to an actor role and received their ACTRA membership

  • How many of their roster have been upgraded to ACTRA members purely based on the number of hours worked as an extra. (ACTRA requires 1600 hours of extra work to receive ACTRA membership.)

Diversity in an agency is key.  Gives you the opportunity for more work and job diversity.

Reputation

Reputation is huge!!  When you get the chance to work on set find out which agency everyone is talking about.  Ask your fellow performers, who booked you for the set you are on, and who they recommend.  A good reputation in this industry is hard to come by.  Don’t you want to be with the best?



 

ML Talent Agency- Do we only use Facebook now? How to get more work as a Film Extra in Toronto-

Good morning everyone!!

It has come to my attention that some of you have been wondering if ML Talent Agency is only booking talent off Facebook?

To answer your question NO I am not only booking talent strictly from Facebook.

I am using Facebook as a tool.  A wonderful tool!  Please note I do not post even half of the bookings received by the agency on Facebook.  I still contact talent directly via text message as has been the case for many years.  Facebook has become a very valuable tool that we will continue to use but is not the only means of how we book our talent.

SOME TIPS on getting more bookings as a film extra:

  1.  Follow us on facebook and like our posts on Facebook
  2.  Check your email frequently.
  3.  Follow us on Twitter. @mltalent
  4.  Email in your availability to bookme@mltalent.com
  5.  Come in and update your photos and sizes  ( we take your photos at the office )  so our database is even more of an accurate tool for the Casting directors and Producers who use it to book film and television extras.
  6. Click like ( the heart) below in the blog section on the ML Talent website.

www.mltalent.com

Want to be an extra in film and television? Here is what to look for when selecting a background agency.

Want to be an extra in film and television?  Here is what to look for when selecting a background agency.

Take into consideration the following key points:

How long has the Agency been in business?  

The movie business is a tough business. The longer an agency has been in business the more legitimate the agency usually is. In my time, I have seen many agencies come and go.  If an agency has been in business for years it shows a strong commitment to the industry, its practices, and the talent they represent.  Longevity of an agency, means an agency has had vast experience and knowlegde of the industry both past and present.  This longevity, often results in the development of stronger relationships with industry partners such as Casting directors and Producers.  This means more work for you as an extra!

 

Does the Background Agency you are considering have an office?

Having an office location is often a good indicator that the agency plans on being around for a long time. Having an office where you can drop by, visit and interact with your agent, pick up cheques, take new photos, and get tips on bettering your career (look and wardrobe for example) .  Having an office is a sign of credibility, responsibility and commitment to you.  

 

TTAA membership

The TTAA ( Toronto Talent Agency Association) is comprised of Toronto’s reputable agencies.  The TTAA has a code of ethics which all of the agents who are members adhere to.  Check to see if the agency that interests you is a part of the TTAA.

 

WHO TO AVOID

Avoid online agencies that have no local presence whatsoever.  Often they make claims of placing you in a database, but they have no contacts with local casting directors, and no way of contacting them.

 

Why paying a registration fee is important.

It is standard industry practice for an agency to charge a registration fee.  This fee ranges from $75- $150. This registration fee covers the administration of building a database, taking photos and ensuring that your profile is up to date year round. This is the responsibility of a good agent.  Beware of agencies that never charge any fees.  These agencies are often desperate to create a roster.  They are often very new, not established agencies with few connections in the industry.  Having a small roster is a vicious cycle, the smaller the roster, the less bookings, if any, the agency gets.  Getting a free registration, does not get you more work.  You get what you pay for.

 

Exception to the rule:  Sometimes an agency may not charge a registration fee to a performer if they are looking for a very specific look that is not on their roster.  Usually that individual would work only one time on one specific movie.

 

Is it good to have multiple agents or just one agent?

Performers are entitled to have more than one background agency.  However, personally I do not recommend joining every agency, or having multiple agents.

HERE IS WHY:

1. You waste your money paying registration fees to multiple agencies.  Having multiple agents does not guarantee an increase in your bookings.  There are only so many shows shooting in each city.  Each time you work on a series there is a waiting period of approximately 2 weeks before you can come back and work on the same show.  For example, you cannot play a doctor on TV series one day, and come back on the same show the next day as a  different character (a janitor for example). You can however be booked for continuity as the same character on consecutive days.   Having multiple agents does make you exempt from that rule and thus does not increase your chances of being booked.

 

2.  Having multiple agents can create difficulty for casting directors that want to hire you as they don’t know which of your agents to contact.  This also can make it difficult for your agent to know your availability.

 

3.  Having one agent helps you stay more organized.  You no longer need to remember what agent booked you for which show and who you need to pay.

 

4. The easier you are to work with and book, the more bookings you will probably get.

 

Diversity of work.

Consider the following:

  • Types of roles the agency can provide (TV, Movies, Print ads, Commercials, corporate videos and actor roles)  Not all agencies provide this mix.

  • The number of extras the agency has booked who have been upgraded to an actor role and received their ACTRA membership

  • How many of their roster have been upgraded to ACTRA members purely based on the number of hours worked as an extra. (ACTRA requires 1600 hours of extra work to receive ACTRA membership.)

 

Diversity in an agency is key.  Gives you the opportunity for more work and job diversity.

 

Reputation

Reputation is huge!!  When you get the chance to work on set find out which agency everyone is talking about.  Ask your fellow performers, who booked you for the set you are on, and who they recommend.  A good reputation in this industry is hard to come by.  Don’t you want to be with the best?


 

Final thoughts….working as a film extra in movies and television is a lot of fun!  You get the opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful, exciting individuals, varying in age, ethnicity, body types, and backgrounds.  Extra work is wonderful because it caters to those individuals who need flexibility. You as the performer create your own working schedule!  A great perk of the job is that all your meals are catered.  It also allows you to be close and personal to the big stars we all love!!  I love film and television like you do, I also love being an agent and owning an agency.  Have fun guys and choose wisely.

 

HAPPY CANADA DAY!  

Let’s keep our industry vibrant like the talent it is composed of.

 

For more information feel free to contact or visit us:

www.mltalent.com

ML Talent Agency

1268 St Clair Avenue West

Suite 204

Toronto, Ontario

M6E 1B9

EMAIL US:  orders@mltalent.com

Want to work as a background extra in Toronto? Here is what you need to do. Be a movie extra today.

Attention all background extras for movies and television.

As of July 1, 2014 it is a new requirement for all background extras to have completed the Workplace Saftey Certificate.  You cannot work on film and television movie sets, unless you have this documentation.  PLease be sure to fill it out online before the deadline.  You will be required to bring a copy of this documentation to each new film you work on.  Please be sure to have photocopies of this certificate with you at all times.  I would also suggest keeping a photograph of it in your phone.

You can go to www.mltalent.com website, click on the link to fill out the required form HERE: http://www.mltalent.com/workplace-safety-information/

TIPS on getting work as an extra!!!

EXTRA EXTRAS READ ALL ABOUT IT!!!:

Hi there!!!

My name is Melissa Lee and I am the current owner of ML Talent Agency!! We at ML Talent specialize in background actors for major feature films, television series, commercial and print.  With over 20 years in the industry, and just recently celebrating our 15th year with ML Talent alone, I am so ready to share my inside tips and tricks on how to make you more successful in this industry!

Please be patient and empathetic I am NEW to this blogging stuff!!   Sitting at my desk pondering what to say.  What do you as a performer really want to know about? hmmm  Why don’t we start off with something simple, like some TIPS on HOW TO IMPROVE your chances of being BOOKED more frequently on sets!!!  Don’t we all want to work more? ; )  Of course we do. ; )

1.  READ- the more you read the specific details I provide for you via email the more prepared you are when you arrive on set.  When production sees that my talent is camera ready,

( camera ready means full hair and makeup done, with clean, pressed clothing along with additional wardrobe options) Their eyes light up with delight. You may be surprised, but my phone starts ringing from casting and production, requesting my well informed talent back, to be repeats on their sets.

TIP: I always put at the beginning of the emails I send to you with call time a spiel.  Read it – I often have things such as new procedures, updates to the agency…keep yourself informed and you will find background even more enjoyable.  Being professional often goes hand in hand with getting more work.

2.  WARDROBE- If you are a male here are some things to consider when making your wardrobe shopping list.  Consider a good upscale dark suit.  I would suggest buying something conservative in black, navy blue or dark charcoal grey.  (FBI looks)  you should also own a crisp white dress shirt, black dress pants and black dress shoes.  This way you have covered a lot of different categories you can play ranging from Detective, waiter, upscale business man etc.  Once you have those couple of items you literally can play almost anything.  Females – I would suggest same as above a nice suit / skirt suit, and the black and white items as well.  Cocktail attire is also a big plus.  A nice upscale classy dress, something simple conservative, goes a long way and pearls who doesn’t love pearls!!!  It is a very easy way to make something less dressy at least look classy.

WAIT!!!  I am on a tight budget and don’t have the money for all of these these things???  Rome wasn’t built in a day people…these are just guidelines to help steer you down the right path if you want to start adding pieces to your wardrobe.  We will always still have work for you on sets even if you do not have these items so fabulous people do not worry!!

Some options to consider:  Thrift stores such as Goodwill, vintage clothing shops etc often offer the above items at a wonderful discount.  Check them out!! Often you can find some real gems!

3.  APPEARANCE:  Being in the movies as a background actor is such a wonderful thing.  I am always on the look out for so many different looks.  That is the beauty about being an Extra is that it offers a flexible work schedule, and there is no limit on the type of looks you can book.  We always need talent ranging from 18 years old to 100 years old, any ethnicity, from upscale conservative, fashion forward hipsters, hard core punk, tatts galore, to homeless…MY sets need ALL of you!!!

SOME TIPS:  The majority of the work tends to go to people who come looking put together and clean cut.  That is not to say that someone with a mohawk won’t work?  Of course you will and when I need you, boy do I need you!!!!  But what I do want you to keep in mind is that background is exactly what it sounds like it is people in the“background.”  They do not want you to stand out ( well in some cases they do but that is a whole other blog ) You need to be realistic of what you look like.  For example, if I have a group of passerby’s ( people walking around on the street) business types to be specific, and  I book a man who is 6’5 with a red mohawk as an extra in that scene? hmmmmm…. What is wrong with that picture?  One thing just doesn’t fit with the other right?  Everyone has a great chance of working as an extra no matter what you look like that is why I love this job!!

STAY TUNED FOR MORE EXCITING TIPS!!



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