This is a re-post of something I brought up a year ago. These businesses continue to prey on the faith hopes and dreams of performers. It needs to stop. Education is the key. Please re-tweet and share!
As a performer it kills me to see my fellow actors and performers getting duped. It’s usually by the same kinds of people every time. You know the ones. ‘Do you want to be the next Hannah Montana or Ashton Kutcher? Has the Lord called you to use your talent to build his kingdom? (that’s an actual quote) Then you need to come down to the SnakeNavel Convention Center and audition for our top agents and managers this Saturday from 10am to blahblahblah.‘ Actors For Christ. Singers For Buddha. You name it, they’re out there. Ads in the paper or on a website promising casting info or introductions to casting directors, agents or producers for a fee. This is a multi-BILLION dollar criminal industry.
I get it. These ‘trade shows’ or ‘talent conventions’ give you a chance to meet lots of agents and managers at one time. But it’s not the agents and managers who get you the work. Don’t believe me? Read this.
Like a slimy used car salesman these businesses promise you the stars and deliver zero.
Question: How do you know if you’re being taken advantage of?
Answer: Below are the most common scams and how to spot them. (thanks to the Better Business Bureau for their help on this)
Beware of any person, company, ‘talent convention’ or organization who:
1. Asks for up-front money, which may be called “registration,” “consultation,” or “administrative” fees. Or they require you to ‘audition’ first and then if you’re selected they ask you to pay thousands of dollars for ‘training’ and ‘photo shoots’ with ‘their accredited professionals’ before you meet agents and managers. Legitimate agents work on a commission. They don’t get any money until you get paid for doing the work they have obtained for you.
2. Pressures you to leave a check or cash deposit or sign a contract immediately. (I’ve been repped by William Morris and ICM and never had to sign a contract.) The agent may insist that you take acting lessons at a particular school or from a particular teacher; or may try to get you to buy expensive photographs, audition tapes, or other services or materials sold by someone he or she suggests. An agent’s time should be spent finding work for his or her client, not selling products and services. One of the biggest complaints from casting people? Actors spend WAY too much money on photos that don’t even look like the person who walks in the door. Money doesn’t make you photogenic.
3. Displays pictures of famous models or celebrities on the walls to make you believe they are represented by that agency, although they’re not.
4. Uses names which sound similar to well-known agencies. Fraudulent companies will sometimes do this to give the incorrect impression that they are connected to a legitimate entity.
5. Places phony ads in the help wanted section of newspapers that say something like, “new faces wanted” for commercials, movies or modeling or claim that “no experience is necessary.”
6. Charges you money to speak with agents over the phone. There are several websites who do this. Agents and managers are busy people but they won’t charge you to speak to them. They may not return your calls right away but that’s part of the game. No one should charge you on their behalf.
Problems or complaints about an agent or an agency may be referred to the Better Business Bureau, state Department of Licensing and Regulation or consumer protection agency in the city where the company is located. To obtain helpful consumer information on a particular agency, you will need to contact the local BBB that serves that particular city. Keep in mind that the Better Business Bureau recommends that you do your OWN homework, their accreditation is not an endorsement of any business or entity, they are simply the first step. There’s no substitute for common sense.
There is no magic formula for success. Following your heart will take you to greater heights than following your wallet. If it sounds too good to be true…well, you know the rest. Here’s to your success!
-Kahlil (at) GigSmacked (dot) com