How to Enter the Business of Commercial Modeling and Acting ... Without Getting Ripped Off : A Simple Guide for New Talent

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-12-07
  • Publisher: Textstream
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About the Author The author, Stuart J. Scesney, has many years of experience in the field of commercial modeling and acting. His start in this business was as an employee of a casting agency. In the beginning, unknown to Stu, the agency for which he had worked was practicing misleading and unethical methods. Like many "fly-by-night" casting agencies, it ran advertisements in newspapers reading "Actors/Models needed no experience necessary." Each week, hundreds of "wanna-be" actors and models came into this agency to be interviewed by non-legitimate talent scouts. These employees called "scouts," promised work for all who came in the door and told them that they were perfect, beautiful, and just what the agency was looking for. A snapshot of each person was taken with a camera that flashed ---but was not loaded with film. Then the "sharks" would say words to the effect, "Our committee will review your snapshot and we will call you at the end of the day to let you know if you have been selected to be part of our agency." At the end of the day, the employees, feet up on desks, would pick up the phone; dial the numbers of those who had stopped in that day – every one of them and say, "Congratulations. Out of hundreds of applicants, you ( or your child) have been selected by our staff to be represented by our agency." At this point, the "wanna-be" talent would be invited back. On arriving at the agency, he or she was given information about a $900 portfolio (which consisted of four 8 x 10 photos enclosed in a (Naugahyde zip-up portfolio case), a handshake, a smile, and a guarantee of work. Each day, Stu would get calls from these people. They said they were guaranteed work but had not heard from anyone in the agency. Stu, at the time ignorant of the company's misleading practices, apologized to the new talent and told them that there were no guarantees. Stu advised them to get at least 500 copies of their 8 x 10 headshots with their name printed on them. Talent also needed to create a resume that would be glued to the back of the headshot. Stu confronted the owner and told him he must stop having the scouts guarantee work and stop accepting every person who walked into the agency. He also made it clear to the owner that the $900 portfolio was overpriced and the quality very poor. While the owner promised Stu he would change the agency's policy, he continued to instruct these "talent scouts" to keep selling and to ignore Stu's objections. Every day Stu explained to the agency's misled talent how to properly market them-selves and, in many cases, he did generate work for them. With these successes, Stu became more interested in the casting business and believed that perhaps the company he worked for would correct its ways. He began his own research into the modeling and casting business from the perspective of an actor, agent, model, producer, director, photographer, ad agency representative, and as a person who was interested in joining the union. He made many telephone calls to ad agencies, casting agencies, production houses, photographers and unions. Stu began to create his own legitimate non-union system which would not offend the union, would benefit a non-union actor, voice-over or model, and would not necessitate outrageous up-front fees. Stu became more knowledgeable in the field, and planned to start his own honest business. The challenging goal was further strengthened after threatening phone calls came into the bogus company and picketers appeared in front of the non-legitimate agency's building. Media coverage followed, and the company was shut down. How the Author Began Six months from the time Stu began his employment, he left the company to begin his own casting agency. He explains: "I would like to mention that there have been several intense events in my life (as in most lives). In the top five of my negative experiences was the dramatic, three-part expose aired on a local TV station that shut down the non-legitimate agency where I had worked for six months. For two weeks before the expose aired, promos were blitzing the airwaves. I'm known well enough in my area and it was hard for me to go anywhere without hearing, 'Hey, Stu, how's the scam?' I felt like wearing a custom-made T-shirt that read: "I did not own the company. I tried unsuccessfully to change its practices. I generated 62 jobs in the last six months and have the invoices, canceled checks and clients to back me!" Keep in mind that there are legitimate agents and agencies in this business, unfortunately there are and always will be the sharks that infest the waters in this business. Now you have the perfect "shark repellant" (as Morgan Creek Productions calls Stu's book) in your hands, this book! "I often wondered why that whole thing happened to me. I now realize that, without my experience, I would not be as passionate about preventing innocent people who want access to the industry from being misled. If it were not for that nightmare episode, I might not have written this book and perhaps might not be able to guide you now. There is a reason for everything!" Stu formed his own legitimate agency with a new and different image. He had a tough start since his name was still associated with the old agency (the one many people erroneously believed Stu had owned). The actors, models and voice talent with whom Stu had worked with for six months, stood behind him, because he found them work, paid them well, and genuinely helped and guided them. They liked him and his professionalism. His clientele base (ad agencies, production houses, photographers, producers and directors) had encouraged Stu to build his own agency. The first year was hell. Stu found himself constantly explaining that he had not owned the company for which he had previously worked and that he had been opposed to its misleading tactics. As time went on, things changed for the better. A local newspaper interviewed Stu, photographed him and published a very positive information profile about him and his new business. Stu's Casting, Inc. and Talent Factory, its affiliate, were now on the upswing. Stu's Casting became closely associated with a Baltimore Advertising Agency club. It was a pleasure for Stu's company to be asked to provide talent for the TV station that was instrumental in shutting down the company he had previously worked for. Soon, the phone calls poured in, and several other newspapers, radio stations and TV stations promoted Stu's Casting, Inc. and Talent Factory. During its first year, the company represented several hundred talented actors, actresses, models and voice talent. This number grew to well over five thousand in just six years. There were no up-front fees for representation by Stu's agency. He advised the many telephone callers to his office to pay no fees to be represented. Through his researching the business of commercial modeling and acting, Stu discovered why it was so difficult for new talent to get into a TV commercial or a radio commercial. One has to be a member of the union. However, by going to the union offices, with checkbook in hand, you discover it is not easy to join if you have no TV or radio experience. You are advised that you can't be in a TV or radio commercial if you are not in the union. It is a real "Catch 22" situation. Back then, the only way for a non-union talent to get on TV or radio is to know the right people. New talent loved the idea that they now had a full service agency working for them, and the clientele of Stu's Casting, Inc. and Talent Factory loved the fact that the cost to them was lower ---and they were never billed residuals. Stu's Casting, Inc. and Talent Factory worked only with non-union clientele such as, advertising agencies, non-union production houses, photographers, producers and directors.

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