Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Watch For Scams in Acting

Is This What Acting Scams Are About?

The first of two stories about acting scams is about a commercial print agent I encountered and had met from a mailing I did. He called me one day and said he had seen my head shot and asked me to come in and meet with him. Of course I said yes, although I started to detect a bit of sarcasm and surliness in his voice. When I arrived in his office, he was very hurried and not very polite. He asked me for my headshots. I was ready but wondered why he didn?t have the one I sent him. He looked at them and told me point blank that ?they look like shit? and that he wouldn?t be able to get me work with those pictures. He told me what kind of photos he wanted and then said something that made an alarm go off in my head. On a small piece of paper, he wrote the name and telephone number of a photographer he wanted me to use to get new head shots. Hmmm. He also told me to bring the contact sheets (the pages with all the pictures taken at the shoot, or at least the best ones) so that he could help me choose the best ones to market myself. Could this be the making of an acting scam? Let's see.

Well, I went to get new headshots, but I didn?t go to the photographer he suggested. I had one already chosen. When I called him back, he didn?t seem to remember me at first. I explained that I had gotten new head shots like he suggested, and he immediately asked me who took them. I told him the photographer?s name and he blurted out, ?Why didn?t you go to the photographer I told you to go to?? I told him, ?Because I already had my photographer, and I preferred to go to him. The pictures are good.? He snapped back, ?Let me be the judge of that!? I had no intention of going to his photographer out of principle. I?m not here to feed his business; I?m looking for an agent who is really interested in working with me. As long as the pictures are good, what does it matter where I get them?

I just imagined him telling me that the pictures were no good and that he wanted me to go get the others. But here?s the funny thing. I must have talked to seven different people about this particular agent, usually starting out with the question of whether or not they ever heard of him. I swear I got five identical answers: ?Oh God, stay away from him.? I met two young women, both in their late twenties, who told me they first had to get the pictures from the recommended photographer, and then they had to pay to get into his ?book? that he presumably uses to sell his clients to his casting contacts. One girl told me about an agent she works with for print and told me all the things I just told you. I thought to myself how familiar that sounded; then I asked her who the agent was. It was the same person! Wow! I?m telling you this to let you know that things like that can happen. I don?t think that requiring a client to use a specific photographer or having clients pay to be inserted in a book are normal practices. I might be wrong, but I don?t think so. On the other hand, one could argue that paying to meet casting directors is along the same lines. I?d rather pay to meet a casting director face-to-face, especially when 95 percent of agents don?t ask for their clients to pay to be inserted in a book.

Just watch out for acting scams. They could be lurking just around the corner.

Anthony Smith left a successful corporate career as a senior manager in Nike and Levi's after 15 years to follow his dream of becoming an entrepreneur, writer, motivational speaker and actor. While enjoying success in his "new" life, Anthony shares his business insight and acting experience with young actors. Aside from acting work, he has created http://www.actingcareerstartup.com and his first book, Acting Career Start-Up: Four Key Factors For Success will hit the U.S. market in March 2007.

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