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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Modeling & Casting Companies: What to Avoid

The first thing you'll need to know and must always remember is that it is illegal--AGAINST THE LAW--for any modeling or talent agency to charge potential models and talent an upfront fee.

No matter what any "modeling scout" tells you, if their company asks for any money upfront in order to represent you, they are not a legit agency and are most likely going to rip you off.

**Keep in mind that I am not talking about sites such as One Model Place or Model Mayhem. These sites are fairly legit and do not force you to pay a fee to have your photos on their site. 

While the free accounts may be more limited, it is still available nonetheless. The types of operations I'm talking about DEMAND that you pay in order to have any affiliation with their site or to use their services.**

Because it is against the law to charge upfront fees, this helps to distinguish the real agencies from the fake ones. But at the same time, these fake companies have learned some new tricks that you should be aware of so you don't fall into the trap.

The Online Modeling/Portfolio Sites

There are companies that may appear as a modeling agency but do not actually represent models or take a commission from your bookings, as legit agencies do. These organizations charge upfront fees not to "represent" you but to allow you to put up an online portfolio with a profile that they manage and maintain.

This type of operation isn't exactly a scam because they are following the law (they are free to charge people for their services because they are not passing themselves off as a modeling agency). The website will usually have some type of statement saying that they are not a modeling agency somewhere on their site so be sure to look for it.

My opinion on this type of operation is to avoid it at all costs. There are too many free modeling related sites that allow you to post your photos and info free of charge. It is a waste of your time and money to invest in what they call a "membership", when it still doesn't guarantee you work and on top of that, you still will be a "model" on the site with no agency representation.

So that won't help your modeling career at all, with the exception of networking but that can be done a number of different ways that would be at no cost to you. If you receive an email or get "scouted" and this is the type of website you get led to, politely decline the offer.

The Unlimited Casting Sites

This type of operation works in very much the same way as the one I described above. In addition to paying a "membership" fee and having your photos on their site, this type of modeling operation provides you with hundreds of castings for models. You get a daily email with lists of links to submit your photos for consideration for projects ranging from runway shows to print jobs.

These castings are legit most times, however, having access to a bunch of casting jobs doesn't mean that you will get the ones you submit to. That's all just a matter of chance. And while you wait around for a callback, your money is feeding the company. Avoid this type of modeling website, too. Having a good, legit agent also means getting castings, but the difference is that the castings will be given to you because the client has seen your portfolio and has contacted your agent to specifically choose you for consideration.

The type of casting operation I'm talking about get castings anonymously and sends them out to everyone on their mailing list, whether they fit the criteria or not. So you don't have that established agent/client relationship. Just one stranger to another saying, "Hey, I need girls or guys for this project."

Casting companies do exist but they don't operate by making you sign up for a membership. Legit casting agencies--not to be confused with a modeling agency, the two are different--allow you to walk in, sign up for free, post your photos online (sometimes they may charge you a small fee to post additional pictures) and email you with the castings they get. Casting agencies welcome models and talent that have agency representation as well as those who don't, so this is a great way to begin getting work that pays well without having to worry about having an agent.

The bottom line: anytime you're approached or come across a modeling organization that charges you fees or require that you pay for a membership to use their services, it is not a legit modeling agency and should be avoided at all costs.

**Some legit casting agencies now charge a small fee to submit for certain bookings but this is a better alternative than spending $50-100+ a year to be a "member" of a site that more than likely has no contacts or connections with the people who are casting. Legit casting agencies do.**

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