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BBC Article Easy Money/ Bussiness Feature - Cons Of The Modelling Agencies.
Modelling "agencies"

Andy Warhol once observed that the day would come when "everyone will be famous for 15 minutes".

In these celebrity-obsessed days, fame is increasingly what people aspire to as programmes like Fame Academy, Popstars, Popstars: The Rivals and a host of other television shows illustrate.

As thousands of young wannabes hunt desperately for that opportunity to get their lucky break, a whole industry of conmen and fraudsters has grown up to take advantage.

Dream job?
Advertisements in local newspapers, shop windows and direct mail literature exhort people to prepare for the job of their dreams, be it model/actor/presenter or showbusiness star by joining an agency that will represent them and get their feet on the ladder.

The talented young people these conmen target are ripe for exploitation - they're desperate to get on, will do practically anything to get a leg up into the business and are too young or too naive to realise that they're being taken advantage of.

Many "modelling agencies" are no such thing. A great number simply take a fee and do little in return. In fact, fees should not be necessary. If an agency demands money upfront to produce a portfolio or to book a studio or arrange meeting with a video producer, the expert advice is emphatic: steer clear. Well established modelling agencies are well connected and well equipped. There is no need for the individual to have to pay to produce a portfolio or stump up for the booking of a studio.

Do your homework
f you're in any doubt about the agency being advertised, do some research. Always check out the agency's reputation. Ask to see evidence of their client lists, who their models work for. Some agencies are active in representing their models and just take on the very best young hopes.
New self-respective modelling agencies will demand relatively small sums from aspiring models upfront because if they're any good they'll be in lucrative work fairly quickly.

Young people should not generally be paying for portfolios to be prepared or for representation since a good agency will do all this work and earn money by taking a commission on fees earned by the model from clients.

Some small agencies may incur costs that have to be met, but without some clear guarantee that there is work available, it may not be a good idea to part with money.

Cons in the modelling world
The most common trick is for models to be fooled into paying for a portfolio of photographs. Instant portfolios are usually unusable whereas all a reputable agency needs is a single, decent clear shot of the model.

Another frequent ruse is the pre-registration fees charged to get your details onto the agency's books. A good agent makes their money by finding paid work, so registration fees are not necessary.

Open castings are another well-used favourite scam. Fraudulent agents arrange an open casting and advertise it widely. They get as many people to turn up as possible and ask all of them to pay for a test shoot which takes place there and then. The photographs, if indeed any are taken, never materialise and the models are unlikely ever to hear from the "agent" again.

Hotel room castings. From the point of view of one's personal safety, these are to be avoided. Never agree to meet a total stranger in a hotel room as this can be dangerous. A legitimate agent would never ask to do this and would instead request models to meet at established office premises.

Internet casting is increasingly being used to try and solicit more explicit photographs from models using the pretence that they are casting for adult or men's interest magazines.

Legitimate agencies and scouts do not need to do this and no model should submit photographs in this way. If in doubt as to the agency, an email should discover whether they are above board or not.