My son was offered representation this week. Good News? I'm thinking No. Too many Red flags. In a previous post, I had asked about the agency asking for social security numbers BEFORE even meeting with us. First Red Flag. This agency claims on their website that they have both union and non-union jobs.
The appointment was anytime between 2 and 4. We stood in line with several kids. There were a couple kids that were undisciplined and running around crying, running and yelling across the courtyard. Our appointment went well, but it was very "assembly line". The line outside led into the office. One person asked questions, the next took measurements, then pictures, then a cold read. Just moving down the line.
That evening we received a group email with an attached EXCLUSIVE contract offer. Even the kids running around like crazy were offered a contract. Bottom line, the agency asks for 20% and the contract is for SEVEN years. Coincidentally, my son will be 18 in 7 years. Also, it is mandatory that we use their casting website for a minimal charge of $128 annually. The contract is written with bad grammar, not with legal-ease that I'm used to seeing in contracts (real estate). Correct me if I'm wrong, but I assume a good agency would have a lawyer write up a standard contract. Many times the contract says "you will do this". Also, the contract didn't have a company header with the agency address.
The contract also has an attached instructions. With the first job/assignment you will receive an electronic voucher. After which the agency will send a set of 10 vouchers. "A voucher is a four piece duplicate form with a standard model release on which the talent and client acknowledges the date, hours and rate agreed upon." Talent will be charged $1 each for vouchers.
I called SAG/AFTRA SF office who said they never heard of this agency. I was told they are not a Franchised Agency. She also said that agencies should never ask for more than 10%. So I'm thinking if the contract is for both union and non-union wouldn't it say that? Especially if the percentage rate an agency charges talent is different for union jobs vs. non-union jobs.
This agency claims they have Union roles.
So are they scamming? I think their charges and terms are excessive. Is this what to expect from the industry as standard? I realize SF is different than LA. I have been told that SF is mostly non-union and rarely union. What are the differences between union and non-union jobs?
If you are seriously wanting to find represenation for your son, I'd keep looking. There are many wrongs here.
Paying for vouchers.
7 years contract. Usually it's 1 year or client choice.
Paying yearly for casting site? No.
Get a free trial of imdbpro.com and find a list of SF agencies there. Good luck
Agencies don't have ROLES, Casting Directors have ROLES. An agent can submit them for an audition, then they selecte kids to audition, callbacks, and then the CASTING DIRECTOR offers talent the ROLE.
These people are violating the Krekorian Law, (advance talent fees)
RUN - IMO total scam!!! It sounds like if you are questioning all your red flags that seem soo obvious, you should really invest the time in educating yourself in the industry - no matter what city you live in. I wish you the best of luck - it's difficult. In this category that you posted in, there's a post called - parents of children geting started, that I feel you definitely need to read asap before meeting with any other agencies. Good luck!!!
The reason I'm questioning if it's a scam is because I don't know the industry. I'm suspicious by nature so I get worried that I'm being too paranoid. But this one has rubbed me the wrong way from the start. After speaking with Sag/Aftra I'm actually relieved because then it means that it's not industry standard for union jobs. But that left it open for non-union jobs. I've read almost every post on these boards, the sag/aftra website and anything else I can about this.
We are lucky in that we have another appt next week with another agency that is very reputable and actually posts their license number online. When I first saw this other contract, it got me worried that all agencies charged this high now. All that I've read, SF is different than LA. A casting director that taught an acting class said that SF is mostly non-union.
I'm really bothered that this agency that sent us the questionable contract is taking money from kids and possibly wasting their time. They are taking advantage of kids. I did a spreadsheet. Charging 20% for small jobs doesn't leave enough for the kids to cover the cost of gas/transportation.
I just read the Krekorian Law. This agency has not charged us advance fees, unless requiring talent to pay for the website is breaking this law. It's kinda gray and they maybe walking around the law. I haven't pre-paid anything. If it were that obvious, I would have turned around in an instant.
This experience for good learning for both my son and I. He got to practice a cold read etc.
Back to my other question; What are the differences between union and non-union jobs? (other than the obvious about belonging to a union)
There are SO many scam signs here, it's like Scam Bingo! Assembly line interview of tons of people instead of a personal appointment; charging you to be on their website; charging you for ANYTHING at all; a SEVEN-YEAR contract (that's completely insane!!!) etc. etc. etc. It's a HUGE scam!
You noticed all the red flags, so good for you! Just walk away (or better yet RUN away!)
Union jobs have a contract with the union, so they're required to follow a lot of rules and pay a certain amount. Agencies generally send you out ONLY on union auditions. Non-union jobs pay less (or not at all) and don't follow all those rules (about safety, number of hours you can work, etc. etc.).
Union jobs hire union actors...however, if they want to hire non-union, they can do a thing called "Taft-Hartley," which means they have to fill out a form saying why they chose a non-union actor over union. BUT with kids it's not a big deal, they do it all the time.
If you book a union job, you can join the union right away, OR just be SAG-AFTRA Eligible (which means you did a union job and you CAN join whenever you want, but haven't joined yet). If you're SAG-AFTRA Eligible, you can continue doing non-union work. BUT once you book your second union job, then you do have to join the union.
Question: What was the name of this so-called "talent agency"? A helpful tip is to go on Google and type in the name of a company with the word "scam" or "ripoff." Then all the complaints will pop up!
It's a total SCAM. Keep searching...go to the ones that are listed on this site. Also, if you google talent agencies in your area then you will see the reputable ones and only the ones that are SAG?AFTRA affiliated! These are the only ones you want to interview with....Good luck and have a great day!
I wanted to reply earlier to say 20% is normal commission for print jobs. Does this agency do print and acting? 10% is normal for the acting side of things (probably just commercial I'd think in SF). Since you posted in the acting side of the board people will assume you are asking about acting but maybe their 20% commission is for print? If so, then that is just fine.
A number of agencies do charge an annual web fee now so it isn't that out of the ordinary either. I don't like it and we personally are not with an agency that charges such a fee, so you can avoid it, but a lot of places do.
The red flags I see though are paying $1 for a voucher - that just seems stupid, and then the 7 year contract, not to mention poorly written language in the contract. What is the "out" clause in the contract, or is there one at all? You just need to make sure you can get out of there in less than 7 years because 7 years just is insane for BOTH you and the agency.
I would for sure attempt to get meetings with each of the agencies on the "recommended" list. You really learn a lot by meeting with them all and comparing their offers. It all just seems a lot easier once you have done that, and you will get a feel for who is right for you, and your scam radar will go off once you have some good places to compare anywhere scammy with.
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