In a nod to agents’ and managers’ ongoing economic struggles, Breakdown Services has informed its approximately 1,200 clients that they will not be charged for their daily casting notices through the end of June.
Approximately 700 agencies and management companies subscribe to Breakdown’s casting-notice service in Los Angeles, where the minimum retainer is $246 per month. Breakdown also has clients throughout North America, many of whom are charged substantially less since there are fewer roles available in their areas.
In an email sent to Breakdown clients, Marsh wrote: “It is obvious to everyone concerned that the pilot season (or lack of one), labor unrest and the economy in general has had a negative impact on the business of representing talent. Breakdown Services lives or dies by the health of our clients… therefore the decision has been made to suspend the service fees for Breakdown Services through the end of June.”
While the 86-employee Breakdown has other revenue streams such as Actors Access, a site that allows actors to post and submit resumes, photos and video for casting agents, “It’s a calculated risk,” says Breakdown owner Gary Marsh. “I’ve been getting a lot of calls and agencies are really feeling the effects. It was a dismal pilot season and with the whole Sword of Damocles of a strike over their heads, this gives my clients a chance to catch up and not go out of business.”
Marsh, who has been in business for 38 years, says he also rescinded his fees for six weeks during the 2008 writers’ strike.
May and June are traditionally slower periods for actors, a lull that usually follows a frantic pilot season. This year, Marsh says, “there was really no pilot season and every pilot was AFTRA. A lot of agents bulk up during pilot season to get through this (slow time) and even though we’re seeing the episodics come back early, it’s not enough.
“I don’t want to lose 10%-15% of my clients because they can’t keep the doors open,” he said. “Starting in July, instead of not having someone to bill, I can keep billing.”