Agencies wanting 'fees'

  • User Deleted

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    I've been going through various agencies for acting work and background artist/walk on work and recently been asked to join Guys and Dolls, so many I've been through have said that once you join you have to be amin/web fees. I've always been told to never pay to be part of an agency.

    Does anyone know anything about Guys and Dolls?

    What does everyone else do? I don't wanna be shelling out £50 every time I join and get no work!

    • 4th Apr 2009
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  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    Basically, I think it depends on what kind of an agency they are. The consensus about true actor representation is that the actor should never have to pay an upfront fee to be placed on the books, and that organisations who are supposedly selling your talent, but taking your money for the 'privilege' are always to be avoided.

    If this is a walk-on agency, I think the situation is different, as most *do* charge for admittance onto the books, and you are likely to yield far more paying work from them in return.

    • 2nd Apr 2009
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  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    Admitedly, now I have read the note, and I see that they charge you a fee *every month*, the agency sound highly questionable. But I don't know enough about walk - on agencies (if it is one) to be able to tell you whether such things are common. If there is nothing (currently) illegal in their setup, however, then they are operating perfectly within their rights - so, maybe someone with a little more experience of this kind of representation could advise?

    • 2nd Apr 2009
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  • Charles Delaney

    Actor

    My advice is never pay any up-front fees to any kind of agency;Best if you find a 'bona fide' actor's agency which earns their commissions from work you book.

    Best of luck in any event.

    • 2nd Apr 2009
    • 3
  • User Deleted

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    Hi

    Are you a member of Equity? If so, give them a call. They have a walk on branch or section, whatever it's called.

    Sarah

    xx

    • 2nd Apr 2009
    • 4
  • Alan Brent

    Actor

    Equity has a Walk On Committee. They will tell you NEVER pay any upfront fees for agency representation. Lee is well wrong here!

    An agent that charges, say 1000 people £50 to join will not need to work hard to get them work. He can just take on more people when he/she needs more income. They should only take their fees from commission earned from you for work they have sent you to do.

    That way only the hard working agents get paid the highest fees. It is an Equity Instruction NOT to pay upfront fees for any representation.

    • 2nd Apr 2009
    • 5
  • User Deleted

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    Do tell me if I'm being thick here (it has been known...)but have I understood this correctly?

    If this agency took on, say, 200 people...

    And if they found each of those people a day's work once a month for 18 months...

    Then each person would be getting, say, roughly 80 pounds a day...

    Less 50 quid to the agent as a fee...

    Less 12 quid to the agent as commission...

    So if one magnified that by 200 (the hypothetical number of people on the books) and then by 18 (the contractually-required number of months)...

    That means the clients' gross income, for working one day a month, would total 288,000 pounds...

    Out of which the agency would take...

    223,200 pounds...

    Leaving each client, with 18 pounds a month...

    Out of which they have to pay tax and national insurance.

    Hmmmmmm.

    On a wholly-unrelated note, I would like to announce that I am binning in this acting lark, and becoming a representative for walk-on artistes.

    The agency is called Background Artistes for Screen and Television Agency, Representatives of Distinction.

    My books are open.

    Hxx

    • 2nd Apr 2009
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  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    I had to read Hughs reply several times ....but got it in the end!!

    As Frankie Howard would have said...Ney ney and thrice Nay! ....do not pay any agent a fee to go on a website....go in a book....etc

    If its walkon work....well if they are getting away with that as a once only fee...maybe? Although its still good money for the agency coming in each year. I don't see how walkon agents get away with that....what's the loophole? Do they get away with it?

    I might go into business as a walkon agent sorry Hugh!! Mine will be called

    "GreenswardKey" An annagramme ...you lot can work it out!

    • 2nd Apr 2009
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  • User Deleted

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    Committee...thanks Alan.

    And yes, Hugh, I too had to read that a couple of times. Ha

    Sarah

    xx

    • 2nd Apr 2009
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  • Alan Brent

    Actor

    I bet your motto would be 'Sumus semper in excreta sed alta variat'.

    Nice one Hugh.

    • 2nd Apr 2009
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  • User Deleted

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    'Pecuniam nobis habere necesse est', more like.

    Or 'Turpis opus est, sed aliqui est faciendum'...

    • 2nd Apr 2009
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  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    Fair enough, Alan. I *did* point out that I have no idea how the rulings applying for Walk - On Agencies work, and asked for wiser heads to prevail!

    Equity's rulings always stand: my point, I suppose, was that, as a rule of thumb, I get the impression that it is often much easier to make money from a walk-on agency (as a few of my non-actor friends testify) because so very often the call goes out for extras 'en masse' without much in the way of criteria preventing you from working if you're available, and you can frequently be paid on days when you don't actually work etc. etc.

    Hugh, however, has expertly done the maths in this case, however, and I think shown that whatever you might claw back would be irrelevant.

    I have to say, in my defence, once I re-read the original post, and realised that the fee being asked for was not a one-off book fee (certainly questionable in itself), but a monthly fee I felt the game was up!

    • 2nd Apr 2009
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  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    I did just google 'Guys and Dolls Agency' to see what kind of set-up they run, and I have to say that the impression I come away with is rather different to that which Hugh was implying. Clearly, this is not a fly-by-night agency run by one man, who is making a huge mint out of his many gullible clients. On the contrary, they appear to be a wealthy, reputable agency with good industry testimonials, a proven track record and so forth. It is undeniable that Hugh's calculations must be basically right: which say that if, every month they are sending out groups of walk-ons to the tune of 50-100 'en masse', they must be RAKING it in. On the other hand, I suspect they must also have a very high turnover of supply in order to sustain this momentum, so I'm not sure that Alan's 'sit back and count the takings, whilst getting noone any work' theory applies here. What seems to be the case is that they are such a huge concern that can probably employ literally thousands if they wish to...and naturally that would make you the tiniest cog in their very huge machine.

    You shouldn't sign because of this, and because that book fee is extortionate...and being a walk - on artist is strictly to be recommended for those who want to supplement their earnings (and how can you do that when a monthly fee of that expense may well be negating any profit you stand to make?). If you think that being a walk - on artist will help advance your wider career as a performer in any way (except, perhaps, in giving you more experience on sets), anyway, you're mistaken - and you should keep on with the hard work of looking for an actors' agent. Equity advice is always sensible, and in this case, the ruling is intended to protect you from being exploited. So, 'Guys and Dolls' are ones to give the boot.

    The hard truth of the matter is that most people are charging you fees for services that aren't useful to you because they know how desperate you are to be represented somehow, anyhow. A decent agency never asks for an upfront fee. A walk - on agency, as I say, isn't worth pursuing unless you want to do walk - on work to help pay the bills. And as to being advertised on independent websites, AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!

    • 2nd Apr 2009
    • 12
  • Forbes KB

    Actor

    Guys and Dolls are a background or "extras" agency! End of!! It is common practice that to join an extras agency the client is expected to pay a book fee! This is usually taken as an annual charge and is deducted from your first job! It should also be noted that for the first job the commission and NIC is deducted prior to the book fee deduction so leaves the client with virtually nothing at all from a flat chit.

    Everyone who wants to do background work knows this before they sign anything and it is therefore their own personal choice to sign or not!!

    I know some Extra's who are with over 15 different agencies and therefore have to do over 2 weeks worth of jobs before they actually start earning anything!

    The majority of the people on the extras agencies books are not trained actors and do it for something different to do with their time inbetween their normal jobs! It is not a career choice, it's a hobby, and some of these guys invest a lot of time and effort in their hobbies!

    There is no such thing as a career as an SA! It is simply impossible for any SA to make enough money to live on from it! It's either feast or famine, however on saying that the famine is drawing to a close and the feast is just round the corner with four massive Hollywood features being shot in the UK this summer!

    As a closing note, it should be mentioned that this discussion actually shouldn't be on this board at all and should be over on Total Talent, the CCP wing for SA's and extras!

    • 3rd Apr 2009
    • 13
  • User Deleted

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    Equity have been looking into background agencies who give a single days work and then take most if not all performance fee, in book fee charges. Cases of performers getting a single days work in 3 years is not unknown; of course they can end up with no performance fee; and still owe the agent money!

    Bectu recently did a survey with 2nd AD's, who are also members of Bectu. Every single reply said that the casting directories were never consulted; all performers were chosen by the agency; now what does that tell you?

    The Ray Knight agency stopped charging book fees and increased commission rates to 15%. But when all the other main agencies did this - yet retained the book fee, Ray Knight eventually went back to charging book fees.

    Many who do background work are skilled performers; and members of Equity. Variety Artists count background work as an essential job, when they have no other work. Many actors do it too, but will not broadcast their involvement, for obvious reasons.

    There is a consultation on up-front fees by the government, anyone wishing to tale part should click on this link: www.berr.gov.uk/consultations/page50428.html The consultation finishes on 11 June.

    Finally, it is not unknown for some acting agencies to charge up-front!

    **;¬))

    • 3rd Apr 2009
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  • Gemma Rook

    Actor

    Hi, Guys and Dolls don't make you pay 50 quid up front...you can do that, or you can pay when they get you your first job (which I'm sure 99% of its members do)So if they get you nothing, you pay nothing.

    They are a very good extras agency.

    Hope that helps...

    • 3rd Apr 2009
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  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    All wise words, I feel, although possibly distracting us from the original question! Thank you Forbes for clearing up a number of details - I appreciate that you have a very detailed knowledge of screen industry work in particular, and it was my assumption that most Walk - On Agencies charge a basic book fee. Thank you for confirming that. Any reputable actors' agent does not.

    Charges are not at all uncommon, I didn't think, for even highly reputable walk - on agencies, who will also take commission (as I think Clive indicates) - and while Alan is no doubt right to stress that in accordance with Equity guidelines, no agency should be joined which is charging an upfront fee, I feel that this issue becomes clouded in respect to walk - on agencies, where, after all, the charging of fees is, as Forbes says, the legal norm, rather than the exception.

    'Guys and Dolls' appear, on my cursory inspection, to be as reputable a walk - on agency as any, but I feel that charging consistently every month is pretty extortionate - a one off fee is not at stake here. As Clive suggests, there is never any guarantee with a walk - on agency that they will make you any money at all (or, at least, that you will make much profit after charges), and I am with Forbes on this one, the type of money you can make is strictly supplemental. But there are many extras who work extremely regularly, and consistently, and enjoy the work.

    I understand Forbes's argument that this is not a dispute for these forums, but it seems to me that there is simply confusion here - with a regular actor searching for representation, and being offered some walk - on work without recognising the agency for what it is. This *is* a question for these forums, if only so we can get the distinction right. Walk - on work is strictly for you if you have an especial hankering for it, or you want to earn yourself a bit of 'pin money'; it cannot advance your career as an actor, and, as has been said, most who do it are hobbyists and enthusiasts. A point I was making earlier is that these distinctions may not have been made clear in the initial search for representation, because agencies of this sort will be happy to take you onto the books if you offer yourself, and many actors desperate for any sort of representation will willingly sign up without knowing that this type of agency cannot adavnce their career at all.

    I hope that has cleared some of the confusions up!

    • 3rd Apr 2009
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  • Gemma Rook

    Actor

    Where did the idea that they charge every month from? The £50 is a one off fee once they get you your first job...

    • 3rd Apr 2009
    • 17
  • User Deleted

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    From what I've read on their website and what they have sent me through the post it's £50 for 18 months not weekly, I think that would be a bit too ambitious for any agency to charge!

    I'm glad others have noticed a lot of other agencies are charging too, I thought I was going mad. But to clear up the point they ARE a walk on/extra/background artist agency nothing more. I wanted to do this to get some extra money and experience more than anything else and I have to admit from the background work I have done, I've had quite a good time doing it!

    • 3rd Apr 2009
    • 18
  • User Deleted

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    I am told that if you did background work in the USA - nobody would be bothered by you accepting such work.

    Over here it is all different. Michael Caine did extra work and as a result he never made it as an actor? Well - we all know he did!

    If you have the ability, you will succeed no matter what comes your way. I know actors who wait on tables in restaurants, who do promotional work; especially promotional work!

    My attitude is, do what you can to survive, but never/do not lose sight of your ultimate goal...

    **;¬))

    • 3rd Apr 2009
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