What should you be watching out for?

* Any talent scout or agent who guarantees to make you a star. No one can give that sort of guarantee. The audience holds that card.

* Any agent who asks for money upfront to get you work. A genuine agent works for a percentage of what you’re paid, which means you get paid first.

* Talent scouts or agents who insist you take their acting or modeling course before they’ll get you work or that you use their photographer for your composite. These folks are making money off the courses and photography alone. They have no motivation to find you work.

* Anyone who insists that contracts aren’t necessary. Verbal agreements are not enough.

* Any agent who promises to fill out the contract for you. You must fill it out AND get a copy.

* Agents who contact you but whose names you don’t know, NO MATTER HOW FLATTERING THEY ARE. Many of them are here-today-gone-tomorrow. Before you sign a contract, check out the agent with the Better Business Bureau, SAG, or the state Film Commission. And ask other actors/models you know for their recommendations.

* An agent who will only allow contact by letter or e-mail, not phone. You need an agent who’s responsive to you. However, don’t waste the agent’s time by calling constantly. A good portion of a reputable agent’s time is spent trying to book you.

* Any photographer who insists you come to his place to have photos taken. Even if you go to a studio, don’t go alone: take a friend. Be sure you know what pictures are taken and what will be done with them. A reputable photographer will have a contract for you to sign that explains exactly what things can be done with your photos, which things are excluded (for example, pornography or ads for cigarettes), and how much you’ll get paid from any use of your photos (usually 10% of the use fee).


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