Agent looks for '˜twinkle in the eye'

This week Vicky meets theatrical agent, Michael Gattrell, for an exciting interview.

Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 1:54 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 7:36 pm
Michael Gattrell - Photo credit Anna Barclay

Where is home?

North Bersted

For the uninitiated, what does being an agent entail?

Getting work for the talent on your books in theatre, TV, film and commercials.

How would a typical day run for you?

If I am going into the office then I get the train to London. I then look at the casting breakdowns and liaise with clients who I think will fit the various briefs. In the evening I might go to the theatre. I see as much theatre as possible.

How do you go about finding talent that you want to represent?

Ideally actors should have drama school training. When I go to a drama school showcases someone is bound to have a twinkle in their eye or a talent that I want to look further at. I also get a lot of emails from actors looking to move agents, but I do my homework and I am very selective.

Does personality and attitude come into the decision making process when you are considering taking someone on?

Yes. Most importantly there has to be a connection and trust. It is very much a partnership and I always tell the client to tell their partner that there is someone else in their relationship! I try not to be close as a friend, but instead to be a good support.

How did you come to be an agent?

I have loved the performing arts ever since I was five-years-old and I saw a production of The Wizard of Oz. I became an agent following roles including Head of Programming for Bill Kenwright Limited and as General Manager of The Capitol Theatre in Horsham. I have also worked as an actor, singer and as a director and I co-founded Bersted Arts.

What have you directed recently?

I have just finished directing Peter Pan at Bath Theatre Royal. I was also the original director of the stage adaptation of Rod Campbell’s best-selling children’s book Dear Santa and have directed the production’s subsequent Christmas seasons. This year I directed the world premiere of Rod’s Dear Zoo, which has just returned from its international premiere in Singapore and Hong Kong. The production is now touring the UK again. I also worked with CBeebies star Mister Maker on his LIVE show touring Butlins resorts.

What are the highs and lows of the job?

Lows are telling clients that they didn’t get the job. Highs are telling them that they did!

What qualities are essential to be a good and effective agent?

I was always told that I had a nice bedside manner with people and that I would make a good agent, but otherwise I think you need lots of patience and good organisational and communication skills. Oh, and to be nice with it!

How do you relax when you aren’t working?

By walking on the beach. On a day off it is also not unusual for me to be found with a glass of gin in my hand!