Is This Agency Legit? How to Tell...
I am so grateful that one of my students' moms brought this topic to my attention, and slightly ashamed I haven't thought of it before. Nothing boils my blood like watching innocent, but unknowing, newbies spend unnecessarily when it comes to finding representation.
Below, I have listed some tell-tale signs of how to spot the good from the bad, and if you are EVER in doubt, PLEASE ask me!
#1) RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH: This seems too easy, right? Research goes a LONG way, and with this age of technology, everything is posted on the internet. Google the agency or agent in question, you can even follow it up with the word "reviews" and see what pops up. Take the reports listed into consideration. MOST of the time these are not just jaded people, but people trying to prevent YOU from being the next target.
Google, Facebook, Better Business Bureau... these are all really great resources that you literally have right at your fingertips.
Another GREAT source are your industry contacts. Friends/other parents in the industry are amazing, they have knowledge and have been thru it already, they may be able to point you in the right direction. Also, the information you can get from an acting coach or teacher is priceless... not only are we familiar (or absolutely SHOULD be) with the agents in our territory, but we will know the best fit for YOU specifically. I make it my up-most priority to be familiar with the agents in my area, and to touch base with many of them on a regular basis to find out what their currently looking for to ensure my students find the BEST representation.
#2) Most "Scouts" are not legit: Have you ever been at the mall or some other such place and someone stops you and says you should model and hands you a card? Yeah... me too... these are 9/10 times a scam. They want you to come in and take classes or pay for photos and you never see one audition or job. Take the card, sign up for NOTHING. Head home and again, RESEARCH.
Same concept for the ads you hear about on the radio to be the next Disney Star! These are a waste of time and money, when honestly, you can may get seen by an agent, and get signed, but you will pay a couple grand to do so. If you are really interested in finding an agent, all you have to do is get some great head-shots taken, and email or send them in, saving you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
#3) Agents never ask for money upfront: Agents never request money upfront for representation. they only get paid, if YOU get paid. 20% for non union jobs, or 10% for union jobs. POINT. BLANK. PERIOD.
#4) They do not ask you to shoot with their photographers or take classes at a certain school: Seems like one of the oldest tricks in the book, and though it is completely ILLEGAL in the state of Florida many "agents" are finding a way around this rule. An agency should never ask you to shoot with their photographers or push you to take classes at a certain place. EVER. Now, an agent may offer a recommendation on either of these 2, if asked, but they should always respect that ultimately it is your choice who you shoot with or where you elect to study your craft.
#5) You've Submitted to THEM: If you've done your homework, you've probably found a few agencies that look great and if you've submitted to them, it's usually a safe bet that they are a legit agency. Always keep the previous 4 bullet points in mind when meeting or speaking to an agency though, just in case... and when in doubt ASK ME!
Thanks for reading, if you have any questions about any of these, or need help finding great representation, please let me know!