Agencies demanding money to get on their books

  • Nikola McGregor

    Actor

    Hi!

    I need some advice. I have been in contact with an Actors and Extras Agency in Manchester and they want to meet me. However, they want to take a picture of me, for their books and they are charging me a deposit of £30 for that photo and the rest of the money will come out of my wages when I start working for them.

    What do you all think? Is this something that is normal for an agency, bearing in mind that I have just had some really nice headshots taken, therefore don't need anymore photos from this agency.

    • 14th Jun 2018
    • 5623
    • 21
  • Mark Joseph

    Actor

    Never pay up front. If the company are legit, they should know this.

    M.

    • 17th Jun 2010
    • 1
  • Blake J Askew

    Actor

    Listen to Herr Joseph. hes right.

    • 17th Jun 2010
    • 2
  • Forbes KB

    Actor

    The respectable extras agencies take their own photo's for consistency and take a book fee from your first job!

    If they are asking you to pay a "deposit" then they are not only breaking the law but also asking the clients to cover their startup costs with is ethically & morally questionable at best.

    The "books" that they try to claim are expensive to produce are often little more than an inhouse produced poorly photocopied book of mugshots and hardly incur the £335,000 costs that one London based extras agency charges as a book fee!!

    Book fees are another income stream, nothing more, nothing less! GGggrrrr!!!!

    • 17th Jun 2010
    • 3
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Hi Nikola,

    Perhaps you might P.M. the details of the agency to me...

    **:^))

    • 17th Jun 2010
    • 4
  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    I think you have your answer - and, it's worth remembering that a 'deposit' that is worthy of the name is intended to be paid back to you at a later stage. That's why it's a 'deposit' in the first place. I don't think this company is suggesting that they will give you the £30 back if you're not satisfied with the service after three months, are they?

    It is certainly true that there are some differences between agencies that represent actors and walk-on/extras agencies. But, in essence, *none* of these agencies should ever levy an 'up front' fee if they are legitimate. There are undoubtedly distinctions in what sorts of cuts/percentages etc. they take from you *after* you have undertaken work for them, what sort of fees they negotiate for you in the first place, and what sort of relationship you, as the client, are expected to have with the agency (most actor agencies should, in an ideal world, always be working closely with their client personally, whilst most walk on agencies work more like temping agencies, who enquire of your availability as and when you are needed for a specific job). But none of them should be charging you fees to maintain their own overheads!

    They frequently try and disguise these charges by stating that they are intended to cover the costs for 'book photos', 'being featured on the website', 'as a goodwill deposit' etc. etc. All of these are poor excuses for covering up the fact that they wish to take money off you, rather than make it for you. Not only is giving them that money a fine way of impoverishing yourself without any promise of return, but these greedy demands are clear indications that the agency concerned can't make decent cash from actually getting people jobs, and are simply in the business to fleece the unsuspecting. Avoid!!

    • 17th Jun 2010
    • 5
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    This is what I got from another performer about a different agency, which I think say's it all:

    They said I need to pay £80 for a photo shoot, £30 in advance and the balance to come out from future wages.

    Once I have a job, I will also need to pay £35 + VAT as an annual fee. On top of this, £45 + VAT more to have my details on their website.

    Their commission varies from 17% to 25%, depending on the kind of job and I would also be required to pay £80 for new photo shoots every 2 years. They seemed very professional, but so do many scam companies. I understand they would want money for the photo shoot and also the commissions, but I do not understand the annual fee (whether I get more jobs or not) and the website fee.

    **:^))

    • 17th Jun 2010
    • 6
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Good grief Clive, that's a disgrace! And people fell for it???!!

    Nikola - most extras agencies all seem to be following the path of charging a fee to register with them (which they never ysed to do, but now see it as a chance to make a bit more money), even the large reputable ones. But the fee will come out of your first payment, and never be upfront. You can never be guaranteed work, so once they have your cash they can just keep it! An good agent will NEVER ask for a fee, or for photos or anything else. Avoid like the plague. xxx

    • 17th Jun 2010
    • 7
  • Nikola McGregor

    Actor

    Thanks for all your advice. I think it's safe to say its unanimous! : )

    • 18th Jun 2010
    • 8
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Some might say this an aptly named 'agency', called 'Shark'...

    Website set up in May 2010:

    Click: www.theinfoshark.com

    **:^))

    • 18th Jun 2010
    • 9
  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    Forbes....is that a miss-print £335,000 to go on their books?!!!!

    In answer to the question...I don't know about Extras agencies but I think you have the answer. Any Co in proper business will not need to charge any up front fees ...and anyway it's not legal to do so nowadays.

    If you have your own 10x8 professional picture/s let the agency in question give you one good reason why they cannot use one of them? Steer clear!

    • 18th Jun 2010
    • 10
  • Forbes KB

    Actor

    No misprint! The agency I have in mind has 5,000 extras on their book and charges £67 a head! You do the math!

    • 18th Jun 2010
    • 11
  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    ahh..I see collective fee! Ohh yes.. its good business if you can get it! Mind you 5000 extras....not sure I'd sign up to them and hope to get much work!

    • 18th Jun 2010
    • 12
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Ah...

    Your supposed to - get work???

    Hmmm...

    **:^))

    • 18th Jun 2010
    • 13
  • Forbes KB

    Actor

    My point is they call it a "book" fee and the book doesn't cost even a fraction of that to produce! The book fee scam is profiteering at their clients expense!

    Yes, they have to get all their 5,000 clients some actual work to get the full £335K but I have no doubt that the majority only get one days work which then disappears into the book fee deduction! The bulk of the work they get goes to their trusted favourites!

    • 18th Jun 2010
    • 14
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    According to my sources...

    The House of Lords is down for debating a possible ban of some/all 'up-front fees' on Wednesday 23 June. However it may be delayed for another time.

    Might know more early next week!

    **:^))

    • 18th Jun 2010
    • 15
  • Toni Brooks

    Actor

    Times is 'ard so I joined London Extras Agency (LEA). I did a vo (the only job so far) which they billed as £20 for the hour - pretty dire pay but I thought I'd just do it as it was just up the road from me. When I got to the theatre, there was a poster on the door saying that they were offering £50 for the hour. When I emailed LSE and questioned this (it took a few emails to get a response) I was told that it wasn't a 50% commission fee but as the company hadn't offered them a company commission, they would take this from the whole amount offered. I contacted Equity who said this was not on. I then contacted LEA re what Equity said but haven't had any response. The job I did was 7 and a half weeks ago. Their blurb says that they pay within 4-6 weeks. I emailed yet again asking when my fee was going to be paid - no response. I managed to find a phone number on the net. When I rang it, someone answered and when I began to explain, the phone went dead. When I re-dialed - surprise, surprise, it went straight to voicemail. I left a message explaining my situation and said that if I hadn't heard from them by 2pm on Monday, I was going to contact Equity and report them which might lead to them being black listed. I also left a message on another phone which just has a message telling people - even companies that want to post a job - how to use the website.

    Has anyone else had any dealings with this lot?

    • 18th Jun 2010
    • 16
  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    Thats horrible Toni.

    I am convinced this thread will get closed down....but poor you and everyone else involved.

    Without trying to sound wise after the event....you should never have done the job having seen that poster....not without having sorted out the £50 or £20 first.

    I had a similar thing a year or two ago: got a job via a CCP casting notice….£350 per day on a corporate shoot. Dead easy scripts etc and 2-3 days work. From the £350 the agency inmvolved (NOT MY ACTING AGENT!) wanted to take 20% commission. I said prior to the shoot, that I thought that was a bit steep….but agreed it was not unheard of, however, I insisted that my hotel fees and dinner etc would have to be paid….or I am not doing the job. The agency said that they had been told the client wasn't covering those fees.

    The agency dealing with this said that would be hard for them to negotiate…and I was starting to smell a rat!

    I then called the actual client direct: They were really paying £600 per day per actor…..and they had also booked hotel and food etc….as well as cabs to the job and between hotel and venue etc. The client was appalled at the way the agency was dealing with them and the actors….and agreed at my request to pay me the full amount directly after the shoot.

    Once I was paid…..I then offered the agency the 20% commission based on the 2 days work - based on my proper fee of £600 per day. Of course they went nuts, threatened court etc etc….but I pointed out to them I knew all about the full fee that they had lied about and had proof of this from the client…. and the hotels etc that they had also lied about and were trying to claim off me.

    I said …if they make an issue about it, I won't pay anything at all other than going through the courts!! They reluctantly agreed, and I kept them waiting the full 8 weeks they had told me it would take to get paid….and I have never heard from them again….awww...shame?!!

    There are way too many cases like this occurring each day….and not all actors are anywhere near resolute and or strong enough about getting ripped off.

    The lesson here and it's a hard one for poor Toni…..is carefully check your contracts inc the small print: If you smell a rat, either within a contract or on the day….stop and check before signing and or doing the job…..don't worry about losing the job….once you have been cast…I assure you…that will hardly ever happen. Also, if this happens with you own agent and they try and put pressure on you…drop them like a stone….or if like me…it was a one off job got by myself…..then tread carefully and act accordingly.

    I appreciate that sometimes commissions are high, but if you agree them you agree them….but there is vast difference between paying a high commission and blatantly getting ripped off and lied to by an agency. Luckily for me on this occasion the client was very much on my side from the off, which of course was a massive help.

    I would have told you all the agency name at the time…..but then the thread would have been shut straight down of course. I've forgotten about them now!!

    • 19th Jun 2010
    • 17
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    I thought about joining because they are supposed to find work for actors as well. But then they wanted registration fee (I paid £10 for something or other and my profile has never worked, even though I emailed them about it), kept bombarding me with emails to register for a photo shoot I had to pay for when I already have professional headshots and (get this for ridiculous!) a workshop for how to be an extra! (Um, that would be do as your told and walk when you're asked to!) I thought the whole set up looked unprofessional and low-quality so I just bin the emails now, even though some of them look legit. Better to stick with the ones who have a known presence off the web, such as Solomon Artistes, Mad Dog, Ray Knight etc.. Poor you, I hope you get your money. It's awful when you go to something (it's happened to me in the early days with a character modelling agency) and the fee is much more and you realise they are taking a huge cut and not being honest about the payment that was offered. Hope Equity can help!! xx

    • 19th Jun 2010
    • 18
  • Toni Brooks

    Actor

    Hi again and cheers for the response.

    It does actually stipulate in their terms and conditions (which I read before handing over my £10 registration fee) that 14% is the rate of commission with 22% being due on higher budget jobs.

    I'm definitely going to Equity about it on Monday if I haven't heard back and I won't ever do anything for them again!

    • 19th Jun 2010
    • 19