In an effort to continually help inform you on so called talent managers trying to take your hard earned money I found this helpful articlehttp://www.bizparentz.org/gettingstarted/avoidingscams.html
So how does a parent spot a scam?
- LISTEN. One step is to really listen to your instincts. What seems too good to be true, usually is.
- RESEARCH. Researching every company and person you are going to work with is of paramount importance. Use Google and check the names of the businesses as well as the names of the people you meet. Ask other parents. Email us. Look for common red flags. Some red flags of a scam or rip-off include:
- being approached in a mall, family store or other public place
- name dropping such as “a casting director from shows LIKE Hannah Montana and Nickelodeon” or naming famous alumni (which rarely turn out to be supporters of the program)
- promising work or access to breakdowns
- using several different names for their business or they change the name frequently
- seeing an ad on Craigslist or in the newspaper, or hearing it on the radio,
- the term “open call”,
- use of the words “star”, “fame”, “you have the look”, “boot camp”, “Hollywood University”
- putting pressure or time limits on the offer such as “we only bring back 10% of the kids we see, not everyone makes it”, “we can only hold the spot for 3 days”, etc.
- use of the terms “top Hollywood talent agent/manager/casting director”
- charging upfront fees for representation. In California, this practice falls under the Advance Fee Talent Service Act (*insert link*). This is why many scammers travel the country. Hollywood recognizes the scam artists so they can’t do business as easily here.
- WAIT. Leave your checkbook at home. Sometimes the best way to spot a scam is to separate yourself from the situation and sleep on it. Talk to your spouse. Run it by a friend. And if you don’t have your checkbook/credit cards, it forces you to think about it without that pressure.
But some people say it is OK….. Of course every story has 2 sides, and you may find another person ‘vouching’ for
someone else. One very common example of these discussions revolves around talent competitions and talent/modeling schools. Consider this perspective as posted on Backstage:
"If we view a child's entertainment career as a business (because it is) - families who go the competition/convention route entering the business start off thousands of dollars in the hole - to "hopefully" get an agent and manager. For the people who really like their individual situation – ask them what's the success rate of ALL the children in their child’s classes? Never mind their little budding star... what about the others?"
Getting an agent or manager can be accomplished for under $100 via picture submissions. Really. Honest. Your child doesn't have to be at a convention to have an agent notice them and see if they might fill a hole in their roster. Signing with an agent (and perhaps manager) is the very basic cornerstone of the industry. It's not a guarantee of success. A good percentage of represented child actors never, ever work.
A child is going to need to book about $30,000 of work (at least) to even make up for the cost of the classes - depending on how many other people (agent, manager, trust account, and taxes) they are paying. It puts a tremendous strain on the child’s “business” to start out so much in the hole. The finances are often the source of many difficulties within a family.
The "awards" and training - will be the first thing to LEAVE the professional resume. The industry does not afford any respect to participation in talent competitions. Winning ‘Child Actor of the Year” isn’t going to bring you employment or success in the industry.
We understand why parents want to see it otherwise - but after hearing thousands of stories from people who experienced this, they describe that it's a lot like a slick boyfriend. They say all the right things to get you interested, but later, looking back, you sort of regret the time you spent with them. There are many people who have learned a lesson - and /or really don't appreciate how these businesses take advantage of families and their love for their children. Yet, good news for competitions - there are still people willing to believe that it's the best choice they can make to get their child an agent, when it's really the only option they ever even considered.
I’ve been scammed, what now?
First, don’t be embarrassed. MANY, many of us stumbled our way into this industry in ways we would rather forget. But you can recover. Perhaps the scammer did you a favor, and made your realize that A. your child really has a gift, and B. you need to get your business in order if you are going to support them the way they deserve.
There are legal remedies to getting scammed. Please email BizParentz and we can point you in the right direction if you feel like that is a route you want to pursue. Many families just count the experience as a very expensive lesson learned. Others choose to tell their story and prevent others from making the same mistakes. We applaud them! Next, re-group. You can find an agent/manager without spending any more money.
Read our article entitled “Just Getting Started".
There are respected and standard websites that exist for marketing and casting in the industry. There’s no need to seek out untested and dangerous alternatives. See also articles on this website – Online Casting and All Roles Aren’t Created Equal (PDF). Even if you are fortunate enough to find someone that is ‘safe” to work with from these alternative methods – there certainly won’t be the level of pay you might expect to receive for your work.
Remember – a child’s professional career is a business – and to give away their time, energy, and talent is unnecessary and unfair to them.