Cash B's

Hollywood Acting Scams

Exclusively for TVTix.com by Morgan Flynn Averill

Hiem 24 , answered a newspaper ad for non-union extras. He showed up with the required 9x10 head shot. The agreement he was asked to sign was simple, he paid $125 as a registration fee and he was guaranteed, in writing, three job s at $35-$60 dollars a day. If he worked after that, the casting service would help him join the Screen Extras Guild so he could double his daily rate. Joe wrote a check and was told to call back in about a week to see if they had anything for him. When he called back, the company had moved and their phone was disconnected.

Proscout:
This may be the most famous of them all. ProScout advertises in medium-sized and small towns promising their prey big city dreams. First they put out ads on all the popular radio stations that kids listen to. They boast having talent scouts in the area at a certain date, and anyone who wants to become a supermodel or a movie star should show up.
Then, hundreds of people turn out over the handful of days that ProScout is in town, and they have a big seminar about how they work and all the "successful" models that have gone through their program. They then divide the room into thirds, and have everyone walk to the front of the room to evaluate them. To make this seem legitimate, they actually turn away some people (usually based on financial prejudgments).
For everyone that stays, they let them know that ProScout has chosen them specially, and that they're in for the chance of a lifetime! They'll get to fly to New York or Los Angeles or some other big city, where they'll get to meet a bunch of agency representatives...they just have to pay $600. Plus their plane ticket. And hotel accomodations. And they have to promote themselves. Actually, ProScout doesn't really do anything.
Screen Test USA
Screen Test USA is a shameless company that promotes itself on television, radio, in newspapers, through direct mail, and on the Internet. They run their scheme by advertising that they're looking for children to appear in commericals and magazines. They also claim to have created more stars than any other company, and that couldn't be any farther from the truth.
First, mommy hears an ad on the radio and calls in for more information. They tell her that for a prepaid fee of $45, they will give her child an objective, selective evaluation called a screen test to determine whether or not they've got potential as an actor. The screen test lasts about ten minutes at a local hotel, and they encourage her to buy a copy for an extra $20.
The talent director then excitedly tells mommy that her child has passed the screen test and can start working right away. He insists that she spend $795 for their "Agency Introduction Program" where they take a few more pictures and promise to help her find agency representation. Two weeks later, they send mommy about 100 color photos, a few envelopes with address labels, and she never hears from them again.
HollywoodAuditions.com
HollywoodAuditions.com is a problem, because they offer a service that is very, very similar to what most agents offer. Except that it's absolute garbage. Firstly, never ever pay anyone for an audition, and never pay a manager, agent, or casting agent prior to getting a job. They get paid after you get cast.
What HollywoodAuditions.com does is quite slick. First, you sign up for more information on their website. Then one of their "agents" calls you offering to represent you and help you get work in your city. This would be all well and good if they didn't want upwards of $300 in advance. They tell you this is a good deal, because they won't take any portion of your paychecks for 3 years at which time they offer to represent you as a real agency. But here's the kicker: if you need HollywoodAuditions.com, you're probably still working at the crab level.
Most actors and actresses when they're starting out work in student and independent films for which they're paid very little money. When you consider that the typical agent takes about 10% of their clients' paychecks, that means that you'd need to earn between $3,000 and $4,000 working for HollywoodAuditions.com to earn the $300+ that they charge you.
To make it even worse, they can't promise you work. They just "promise" to get you auditions. And the fact of the matter is, 1) they're probably not going to get you that many auditions in that 3 year period, 2) you're not going to get every job that you audition for, and 3) you're more than likely not going to earn $3,000+ working as an actor in your hometown.
To add insult to injury, if by some stroke of luck (or idiocy) things actually do come together, and you stick with them past the initial 3-year period, they'll offer to represent you as a real agency...taking 20% of every pay check. Twice as much as a real agent. Do yourself a favor and don't even bother with these people.
Debonair Marketing/Commercial Scouts
Debonair Marketing comes with all sorts of fraudulent claims such as casting Haley Joel Osment in the Sixth Sense to being responsible for the casts of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Malcolm in the Middle. They usually act by handpicking people on the street or in malls, going up to the parents of young children, and telling them, "S/he's got the look!"
Baited parents usually call back the number on the card that this "agent" gives them and book a screen test. After a short video with the child and some general questions, they go home. The next day, they get a call saying that their kid was one of four kids chosen out of some 300 (uh-huh) to be represented by them. There are just a few minor details.
The parents are told that their child must go through their seven-step course of classes and training which will cost $200 for each step. They are assured that each commercial would pay at least $3,500, and remind mom and pop that they're the ones who got that kid in Jerry Maguire. Needless to say, these investments never come to fruition.

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