Former Employee at Famous Modeling School Speaks Out
I just wanted to give a little insight into [...] and the [....] and how they work on the inside. As a former employee of [...], I soon found out that this was a total scam.
I will break down the audition process first...
The people show up for an audition (more than likely they were called by telemarketers, or approached at a promotional event, or called from a radio ad). They fill out some paperwork asking about employment, interests, etc. (It's all to see what your job is so they can guess your income level.)
Everyone there meets with the "Director of New Faces," who gives a 20-minute seminar about the truths of the industry and all that.
(The office I was at had so much turn over, the staff changed a lot, but none of the Directors or special "Regional Directors" they ever had there were legit.)
They all lied about their experience and one of them was just the father of the office owner.
Let me just say that first and foremost, everyone in the office is a salesperson. At the office I was at only one person had any real experience in the industry, but they quit too as soon as they found out the truth about [...].
You will then meet with a "scout," who is also a salesperson, hired off the street or out of the paper with no real experience in the industry.
They ask a few questions (all of them b.s. to try to find out if you are willing to spend money on this, and the only thing they ever write down is the answer to the question: "Are you willing to invest?"
The rest of the time they are scribbling on the paper trying to look interested, and then you are given packet of info to take home, a callback time and a short little commercial to perform on camera.
The camera is a joke, because sometimes there was no tape in there, and even if there was, they never watched the tapes, anyway.
Every single person was a "yes" on the callback, and if you were not, it is because they figured you did not have the money, or you asked too many questions to be fooled, but even they were a "yes" when the sales goals and quotas were not met for the week.
So when you call back, the person you talk to has a script (some have memorized it and some have not), congratulating you on making the cut, and that you will need to come back today for a second interview. They will remind you to bring more pictures, datebook, or whatever else, and, of course, a credit card or checkbook "in case you are chosen."
When you arrive, you are again in an office (they stagger the times people come back, so everyone doesn't see everyone else). The only people not coming back are the ones who did their homework on this scam and the ones without the money.
You will talk to the "scout," who will confirm that you are ready to pay today, and then go on camera for a little test, and again you go back to the office to wait while the scout "reviews the tape."
Actually, they never watch the tape then, either, but instead meet with whomever is in charge, and try to see if you are going to do this or not, and try to figure out what approach to take to convince you -- usually by acting really interested in you and offering a price cut or "scholarship" or telling you that you are 1 of 3, and that you have to do this now or lose your opportunity.
[...] is not an agency (they have a registration fee of $500), but they try to act like one. They are an academy that offers overpriced classes and pictures as well as many lies.
So say you become a client, what happens then? Well, depending on if they got you for $2,000 or $10,000, it really doesn't matter... you may or may not get headshots (cheaply done over-priced ones), some really bad classes (focusing on modeling/acting, etc.), but no real insight into the industry, how it works or, what you need to be aware of.
The office I was in did not even have a runway; they took the models out into a hallway by the elevators. All of the coaches are ex-salespeople or struggling actors/models trying to make a couple extra bucks.
They offer auditions, but rarely does anyone get picked up, and the ones that do would have gotten picked up anywhere by agents.
The agents they bring to the office are offered $500-$1,000 plus travel to come sit in there for a Saturday and look at the kids. There is nothing they are there for other than a paycheck. Some might even get a callback (which is done just to look like kids are getting placed), but 1 in 500 will actually get an offer (which means if the office is not in NY or LA you are out of luck unless you can move there).
Many agents, casting directors and managers that are legit and wish to remain that way have quit going to [...]'s, not only because of the scam, but also because the clients really aren't ready for the industry, because the classes and prep is inferior.
Many do not want to be associated with this but some will go for the easy money ($1,000 for 4 hours of sitting in a chair and watching nervous kids do a monologue or Skippy Peanut Butter commercial).
The office I was in was especially bad, because the owners treated employees horribly, bounced paychecks, lied to employees. They would not spend money on the office (it had water damage and the trim on the walls was hanging off and sitting in the floor partially attached, partially rolled up. and it stayed that way for months).
There was only one cheap camera in the whole office, because the rest had broken, and they would not replace them, even though it was on its last leg! Two of the employees had really bad substance abuse problems!
I went to a corporate meeting and was soon informed that most of the other offices have the same process.
The President, [...] [...], focused mostly on sales techniques and goals for the year, delivering a limp-wristed sermon like a Baptist hellfire preacher.
Not once was there talk about finding good agents to network with or improving placement rates. "Sell! Sell! Sell!" was the agenda. Sell programs, sell makeup, sell headshots. "SELL!!!"
A few owners were pointed out that actually kissed some butt and got an agent to work with one of their kids. They were even bold enough to have hundreds of people show up for an audition, claiming that tons of agents were gonna be there, when in reality it was just office owners and their employees there.
They boasted that they would bring in blah blah amount of money, basically funding the weeks events. There has been a big backlash because of this, and the internet has allowed people to share this info, so they have tried to go back to being a "school," because fewer and fewer agents want to even go to their locations and are slamming them.
If you try to get your money back, you will only have 72 hours to do it (it's all in the contract you signed in little print), and it will become increasingly harder to get anyone to return your calls or talk to you. If you threaten and get a lawyer involved, you might get some of the money back.
[....] goes about the same way... They bring someone in to talk a bunch of junk and tell you about [....], its success stories, and show you a little video. Again you get a packet an interview and a callback time, and, again, everyone but those without money will be a "yes."
[....] itself used to be a decent thing, but over the years it has become the same as [...], especially since [...] sold the business. They are not concerned with taking great kids, only enrolling as many as possible to pay the $5,000-$10,000, depending on the office.
You receive training and prep to go to [....], as well as travel and hotel, but the problem is the politics of [....]. Again many agents and managers have quit going because of the shadiness of it all.
The kids go to seminars and competitions, but few are actually chosen by the managers or agents. The rest that make the callback list and get access to the agents got there by their director or office owner begging an agent to put them on the list to help the success rate and cover their ass.
The kids that get callbacks (and there are a lot) go in to meet with agents that did not want to see them and usually humour them for a minute, and shoo them off, or tear them to pieces with harsh words (confirming that they did not place them on the list... why callback someone just to say that they suck and are not at all ready for the industry?).
Very few will ever follow up or place them. As of 2003, the number of agents attending had dropped by half! I called an agent friend asking why, and she told me that it was because they got tired of coming to [....], without getting paid, to look at one or two great kids, and then having to sit there all day looking at kids that they put on the list as a favor to a [...] or [...] office that had no business being at [....].
The other thing I noticed was that of the few agents that did attend, half of them left before or halfway thru callback day!
So some got callbacks only to go there and meet the agent in the room and the agent had packed up and left or never showed up!
My advice to anyone serious about this industry is to go get some solid headshots or composite cards done (you don't have to pay $3,000 for good work, either!), get on the web and check for agent listings, there are tons out there!
I know some [...]s say that it is hard or impossible to get in front of the people they work with, but that is false, and, of course, agents want to see you... that's how they make a living, by getting a percentage of their client's earnings, so they need many clients.
Put together a cover letter and resume with your pics and mail them off. Don't expect this to work right away. Make a list and mail out to them at least 4 times a year. Let them know you can travel there if you can. NOTE: do not expect to get in to the industry without investing time, energy and money. You will need to promote yourself, you will need supplies and you will need to travel.
Agents and managers will not come to you and the days of being discovered off the streets are gone... this is a money-making industry.
Take some good acting classes with a personal coach (preferrably in NY or LA). Know what you are doing. There are many books and SAG resources out there.
As far as [...] and [....] goes? Well, there is a reason people like [...] [...] and [...] [...] are in the videos...Yes, they went and they got lucky... do they endorse [....]?
NO! If you ever see them on a show, they will never talk about [....]. They will say they went to a small modeling thing or a scouting event. They are only in the videos because to go you have to sign a waiver that gives [....] the right to use your likeness and pictures for promotional use. They would have been chosen anywhere, probably, maybe not, but they had good connections.
I am not saying it cannot happen through [....] or [...]. I am just saying that they are not what they portray themselves to be, and if you do decide to do both or either of these, then look at it as an extra-curricular activity/hobby. Do not expect them to have your best interests at heart.
One last little thing I would like to add... I was recently informed by an ex-employee that left for this reason that the office I used to be at is planning to close because the owners sold it to someone else. They are not planning on telling the clients and will probably just disappear one day!
So beware! You may one day go to the office and there is no office, because the owners took the money and ran (more proof that they are not interested in you or longevitiy as a company). It was supposedly sold/being sold to someone who owns a [...] office close by and wants the territory to recruit from, but does not want to service all the pre-existing clients, so they plan to close the office, but advertise in that area for another local office.
The employees themselves do not even know this! The person that found out was given the choice to keep it quiet, or be fired, so they quit.
Hope this shines some real light on a REAL SCAM!
Oh, and just one last thing... the people that own this office own more than one.
Crimes of Persuasionon