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Avoiding Scams

There's a right way and a wrong way to get started in the film, television and modelling business. If you're interested in working in films or television, have you…

  • Found an agent through an ad in a newspaper?
  • Been told that your baby needs professional photos to support his or her acting career?
  • Been approached on the street, in a mall or solicited by telephone?
  • Been told that a job is guaranteed as soon as you sign a contract with an agency?
  • Been pressured into signing a contract without being given time to think it over?
  • Paid for an agent to represent you or paid just to get an audition?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, chances are that you are NOT dealing with a legitimate talent agent or background agent. While most talent agents operate within standard industry norms and are ethical - some are not. They prey on the fact that people' don't know what standard industry practices are.

You've been discovered? Probably not. Talent agents don't go looking for clients in malls or bars or trade shows. If you're approached, call the agency and ask questions. Or check The Agents Book or call AMIS - the Acting & Modelling Information hotline at 416-977-3832.

How the real entertainment industry works:
Agents do not advertise - According to the Entertainment Industry Code of Ethics, talent and background agents cannot advertise to the general public.

Agents don't provide photographic services or give classes - A reputable agent may suggest specific photographers or classes to you but cannot require you to use them.

Children and extras do not need professional quality photos - Babies and toddlers NEVER need professional photos. Extras need to provide a snapshot to their agents. Children under the age of ten do not need professional photos unless they are working regularly.

An agent cannot guarantee work - An agent who tells you that they have work for you must give you a copy of the signed contract along with the details of the job (who is hiring you, what you will be paid, etc.)

Agents are not casting directors and they don't do screen tests - Agents earn commissions when their clients work. Casting directors are paid by the production and never take money from performers for any reason.

Agents specialize - Agents usually represent actors, extras OR models. Be wary if the agency claims to represent all of these categories. Legitimate agents make their money from commissions from your fees: 10% for theatre, 15% for film and TV, 20% for print and modelling fees.

No experience or training? - A talent agent will rarely represent you if you have no experience or training. Legitimate talent agents usually require actors to have some professional training and some theatre or film experience. Only background agents will represent inexperienced people who have no training and will generally try to get them non-speaking roles as extras.