How to Avoid Scams in Performing Arts Employment
Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous individuals everywhere and if there’s the opportunity to make money, someone’s going to be wanting to take advantage and make it at your loss.
We’ve put together a list of tips on how to identify and avoid scammers. Even if you’ve been caught out in the past, be prepared and know that everyone is targeted, both experienced professionals and those new to the profession. Newer actors might be more vulnerable to these scams, but scammers are getting increasingly sophisticated and thinking of new ways of making money at your expense. Let us know if there’s any new methods you may have become aware of.
If it sounds too good to be true…
‘You’re perfect, so talented, the next big thing [insert name of your choice here, whoever might be in favour at the moment]. This might be true, but if you find yourself auditioning for a role which you’re a shoe in for, but you’re asked for money, STOP. Variations on this are adverts looking for ‘fresh’ or ‘new faces’ with ‘no experience necessary. Adverts will be vague ‘actors needed’ or very specific, looking for extras for the next A-lister action film. Once you contact them the sales pitch will begin. At no part of the auditioning process should this happen.
Who is paying who…
The Talent Agency: You audition for a role, you may get the part then and there, but most likely you’ll have call back and then, all things being equal you start work. You’re the one who should be charging, not the other way round. Agents make a percentage of what you earn (the standard is 10 percent) and reputable talent agencies don’t charge the people they represent. If a talent agency asks for money when you first speak to them they are breaking the law. Agencies can’t take money for you for thirty days after you enter an agreement and remember you have can within draw from this agreement during this time.
The Manager: The same goes for managers. If they are promising you the world, high profile roles, with great pay, and then ask you for money you should take this as your cue to walk away. They might tell you they need the money to get you started, so they can start working for you before you start bringing in any money, but this is a lie. The only pockets they are lining are their own. The general rule of thumb is a manager charging between 10 and 20 percent of your earnings for what they are promoting. If it’s any more than that walk away.
The Master: Masters sometimes brand themselves as ‘life coaches’ or ‘mentors’ eager to pass on their experience and know-how to the next generation of actors. They might be selling training, career coaching and workshops, but have no doubt you will be paying for all of this.
Remember you’re the one who is being given the job, not the other way round.
Staying safe online
You might receive a message out of the blue from a potential employer who wants to offer you a role. Some of the money will be received as an advance which you can deposit into your account. They will send more money than you were meant to receive and ask you to send the balance back to them. The issue will kick in when the money fails to clear and you find yourself out of pocket. Research anyone you plan on having a business relationship with and remember you’re the one being paid. If a company is so unorganised that they don’t know how much they are meant to pay you do you really want to have anything to do with them? Incompetence shouldn’t be excused, but it’s more likely a cover up for scammers.
Real people lie too
Don’t think that all the scams are limited to the internet, there are plenty of people willing to come up to you. These scammers aren’t afraid to come up to you and tell you how you’re the next big thing. The key here is that once again they will be after your money. You may need to invest in some acting classes, another set of headshots (shot by them of course) or some other course they think you’ll benefit from taking. Remember. They are here to make you money and find you work.
Signing on the line
Don’t feel pressurised into signing anything with anyone. Take your time, do your research, talk to your network first. If you’re dealing with professionals, they will wait. Read the small print and make sure you understand all the contract. Don’t make rushed decisions or feel cornered into doing anything you’re not comfortable with. Think of the long term implications of a contract. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Legitimate agencies won’t be approaching new clients in the streets. Take their card and do some googling and ask around. It never hurts to research.