I quite regularly get postings from a number of Job Web sites just so that that I can keep an eye on the job market for both personal and non-personal reasons. Quite often, I will see a posting from one of two (or three) "casting Agencies" calling for actors... Incidentally, these "Agencies" have been thoroughly examined and found wanting within the electronic halls of this very site, so I usually pay them little mind apart from saying a prayer that no-one falls for it but knowing someone might...
Today, I find a new "agent" posting calls for actors, claiming huge bucks if you join them. I will not mention their name and nor will I say where I saw it for that is not the point of this Blog. What I will say is that with a little judicious caution and research, you can quickly find a lot about an organisation proposing to legitimate.
Firstly. TALENT AGENTS DO NOT RECRUIT!!! Cannot stress this enough. Proper casting agents very rarely (if ever) advertise with slogans like "Extras required for film and TV earn up to $1500PW" or "FILM & TV Productions Require Actors, Extras, Models". They are Recruiting to get people onto their books? Not likely. They are more likely hoping you will be willing to part with some of your money on a dream. $200 from 20 people is $4000, and that's just for starters.
With so many hopefuls, wannabes and keenly passionate individuals, Legitimate agents do not need to recruit. More often than not, they are turning people away as their "books are full." These rather tempting slogans are simply that, misleading temptations, no better than SPAM! Treat any such posting in an electronic medium with extreme prejudice.
ADDED: 2012/Nov/06 Top five things to look for
Second. TALENT AGENTS DO NOT STREET CAST!!! By this I mean those "agents" that approach you in the street and spout a whole pile of patronising compliments and then ask you to join their agency. There are two kinds of people that do this - Perverts and Con-artists. By preying on the unsuspecting and hopeful ambitions of some random person, they lure them into something they do not expect. Let's face it, deep down, most of us want to be on TV...
If you are approached in such a manner, unless you are presented with VERY VERY VERY convincing credentials, walk away. Agents may approach you after having seen a production or a video clip that you were in, but if they do, it will be with far more professionalism than simply walking up to you out of the blue.
ADDED 9 June 2010: TALENT AGENCIES DO NOT COLD CALL!!! By this I mean they send you an email or call you, quite out of the blue, saying all warm-fuzzy things like "you're just what we are looking for" etc. If you fall for it, then you are what they are looking for. Legit Agents (or if you like Managers) will approach you through more official channels and no singular casting agent can rightly claim to have the advantage over any other agent. Under Australian Federal Union requirements, all Casting Agents have equal rights to all casting details and calls nation-wide.
Third. DO RESEARCH!!! Heard about a certain Talent Agent? Maybe saw an interesting posting somewhere? Could be legit? Sounds convincing? Then DO NOT AGREE TO ANYTHING until you have looked them up. (Note: if by asking for time to "think" they get agitated or even more pushy, that's a good sign to not bother at all.)
All companies need to be registered through the Australian (or relevant) business directory. In Australia we have http://www.search.asic.gov.au/ where you can do searches by ABN, ACN or Company Name. While this does not give you things like Company profiles, it can tell you some very important information about the company itself.
For example, the new company that I mentioned earlier is recruiting in Perth, however there is no company registered in Perth by that name. There are two close matches in different Eastern State locations. The information on both is extremely scant, and one looks like it is a new submission currently being reviewed. That doesn't leave a good impression.
Keep in mind that anyone can register a Business for a small fee so registration is no indication of honesty. There are minimal security checks performed - minimal in the fact that they are very much dependant on the often minimal details provided. However, the more legit a business is, the more willing they will be to provide details of their company.
In addition to this, search through the Internet for any comments or web sites that refer to the company. In my current case, there is nothing apart from the Job Pages that brought them to my attention. Again, a very bad sign.
Four. DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE!!! True Agents don't need Hype to attract clients. They do well enough through word of mouth - Actors currently on their books telling friends - and other more silent methods. When you hear claims such as;
"You will be registered with agencies free of charge that cast for shows like:
Neighbors <-note the mis-spelling
You will also be put forward for castings with all the major films being shot in Australia."
- Taken from a recent posting 05/10/2009
Five. KNOW THE DIFFERENCE!!! There are Casting Agents and there are Casting Consultants. Agents represent the Actors and Consultants represent Producers. The Producer/Director requests a cast, the Consultant confers with the Agents and the Agents contact the Actors.
I say this specifically as occasionally Casting Consultants will go to the general public. If they are not getting what they want from the agents, then they will make a more general request. However, these are not done through Job Sites and the like. Here I make the example of Jenni Cohen, one of two Casting Consultants in Perth, whom has posted legitimate casting requests on this very web-site. The difference with these postings are that they are very specific, descriptive and without all the Hype and Fanfare. They are specific opportunities not a general call for hopeful applicants.
Summary. Having an understanding of the nature of the business is a key aspect to not getting conned by it. Watch for the tricks and scam that are frequently pulled on so many unsuspecting individuals throughout the world. Acting is a profession that attracts the imagination of thousands of dreamers, and hundreds of schemers.
RUDDIGORE - to be performed at the Octagon Theatre Oct 3rd - 12th (8 performances)