Great American Model and Talent Search (Aquarian Associates) Queries / Complaints


To Whom It May Concern:

I was hoping that maybe you had heard of Aquarian Associates, Inc., also known as the Great American Model and Talent Search.

We already paid $440 to attend a convention in Los Angeles, California, at the Sheridan Hotel. It will cost us another $800-900 to fly us out there and pay hotel expenses.

What advice or info could you give me?

Thanks so much,

H.G.


The mailing address is:

GREAT AMERICAN MODEL & TALENT SEARCH
394 Rodi Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15235

The website address is:

http://www.aquarianassociates.com/

The BBB record said:

Information supplied by the company indicates they advertise a modeling & talent search called an open call. At the open call there is a brief interview and an on camera evaluation. Those of school age, or older are also provided a script to read. Infants and small children are just filmed.
 
Participants in the Open Call who are deemed by industry professionals as having potential are sent an acknowledgment letter inviting them back for a meeting reviewing the company's offer to participate in their annual Event held in Los Angeles, California, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
 
Participants are divided into age group and display their talents to what the company calls industry professionals. To participate in the Event consumers are required to pay a non-refundable registration fee. All expenses to and from the Event are at the participant's expense.
 
Consumers are advised that Aquarian Associates and Great American Model & Talent Search do not offer employment nor do they provide representation or agent services.

Although the BBB said: "This company has a satisfactory record with the Bureau," it may not have a satisfactory success rate, and it probably does not have a satisfactory screening process.

Their website said:

The Great American Model & Talent Search is a division of AQUARIAN ASSOCIATES, INC. The company was founded in 1969 and the search was established in 1986. We have provided men, women, teens and children exposure to talent agents, casting directors, producers, personal managers, photographers and clients resulting in numerous opportunities in the model and talent industry.

Numerous opportunities? What about successes? Why don't they tell you their success rate? Opportunities is not the issue; the issue is successes. Is it just me or does that not sound vague and flaky?

There was no disclaimer, either in the BBB record (like MSA and NYC Fame), or on their website, saying their success rate. The website itself only showed about 10 pictures, none of which are named, none of which are claimed as successes. They look like stock photos. They are not tear sheets. This is all very unconvincing.

You should know the success rates of modeling conventions are typically very low. Which is most likely why the organizers do not tell you. The failure rate is probably 90% at most conventions. For this reason, they obviously need outside help. Professional help.

The BBB record said they have "industry professionals" who think certain people have potential. But if their success rate is as low as other conventions (and there is no reason to believe it is any better, since they don't tell you it is higher), these "industry professionals" are incompetent.

Find out if Great American Model and Talent Search screens prospective models using qualified and competent industry professionals, i.e. the agents who are going to attend the convention. The pictures should be sent to the agents for review and screening before you pay. Then you attend the convention based on unbiased opinion.

You could ask for cold hard data with regards to success rates. The questions are very simple. Ask them how many people attended their last convention. Ask them how many people who attended the last convention were signed with a reputable agency. Then ask for names (model/agency).

If they had a low success rate, or if they don't give you a straight answer, or if they don't have that information, you will be better able to figure out whether or not you should cut your losses ($440), instead of paying more ($800-900), and risking losing about $1,500.

Please note you don't need a search or a convention to get discovered. You can visit local agencies free, or send pictures to reputable agencies.

Redacted Info


To Whom It May Concern:

I am interested in learning anything you know about Aquarian Associates.

We recently attended an open call and were "selected" to attend a convention. My daughter is two years old.

The cost is approx. $400, and we would incur very little travel costs, because the convention is not far from where we live, and we have friends in the area with whom we can stay.

I have been reading about the conventions on your website, and I am now feeling that this is all a scam. As far as I can tell there are no additional costs for photographs, video, or classes.

I understand the chances of being picked up for a print ad or something similar not only at this convention, but anywhere, are very slim. So am I crazy to still attend? Are they really that bad? Or should I just get some pictures of my daughter and start sending them to different agencies?

Thanks for your help,

P.B.


P.,

There was an inquiry about the Great American Model and Talent Search earlier today.

To add to that, you should know the odds are against you, not just because it is a convention or because there is limited work available for most models, but also because there is very little work for two-year-old children.

Quite frankly it is suspicious that your daughter or anyone at two years of age was "selected" to pay for a convention, but if they are chosen, why isn't it at a reduced price? Why does she have to pay the same price as an adult?

Did the Great American Model and Talent Search not explain the low demand for child modeling and child models?

You could visit local agencies, or at least focus on the local agencies. It is highly unlikely that an agency is going to fly in a two-year-old child model for modeling work. It is much more likely they will go with a child who is near; it is more convenient for them and the parents.

If the agents are only going to be serious about local child models, it makes no sense to go to a convention. You can find the agencies in the phone book, hold onto your $440, and visit them for FREE.

Therefore you would not have to send pictures anywhere. At that age, the family portrait style picture should be enough. Their look changes fairly quickly. You don't need special professional pictures taken. See if you can find any local and reputable child modeling agencies.

Redacted Info


Thank you for your prompt response.

I called a local agency and have an appointment today and am saving my $400.

Thanks again,

P.B.


To Whom It May Concern:

I would like to share my experience with the Aquarian Associates Great American Model and Talent Search.

We live in the Pittsburgh area, and first learned of the open casting call on a radio advertisement for the Aquarian Associates Great American Model and Talent Search.

We took our four-year-old son to the event which was held at a local hotel where they first had the children approach a panel of so-called industry professionals.

The children were introduced and asked some basic questions along with some small talk.

Next, they were instructed to walk across the room for a brief video filming where the photographer asked them their name, favorite food, friends, etc.

The first "hook" was cast when one of the industry professionals told me that my son was amazing, and how would we feel about a trip to Hollywood?

The second hook came while we were in the lobby getting our coats on when one of the Aquarian Associates staff (who we later found out was the president's wife) informed us that the woman who made the fuss over our son was a casting director for the Power Rangers TV show, and very seldom gives out compliments.

Well, after that I was star struck! Hell, at that point they probably could have taken me for three times the amount we eventually paid!

There was even an embarrassing scene where two parents and their children were asked to leave due to the children misbehaving. The president of Aquarian Associates became very loud as if he wanted everyone to see and hear him. It was almost like he was acting.

Looking back, my husband now feels that the whole thing could have been staged to give the other parents a feeling of confidence knowing that their children were model citizens, very cooperative and well behaved.

As anyone would have guessed, we received our letter a few days later informing us that our son received a favorable review, and an invitation to the parents' meeting.

The meeting was held at their Pittsburgh office where the red carpet was rolled out with all the visual effects (movie posters, advertisements, etc). It was a small group with about 15 parents.

We first watched a video highlight film from the previous search along with commercials containing children. Seeing only 15 parents made you feel good. You felt that your child was special, since they saw so many at the open call, and only invited a small amount back.

The president then spoke where he kept re-emphasizing that Aquarian Associates was not an agency. They even had signs posted everywhere stating "not an agency."

We were told that the biggest obstacle in an acting or modeling career is exposure, and his company can put you in front of top industry professionals at a fraction of the cost if you were to set out on your own. He said that you don't have to live in NYC or CA to be successful.

The casting directors also understand that parents have obligations to work, and children have an obligation to school, resulting in most commercials being shot during long-weekend-type arrangements.

He went through all this and still hadn't mentioned money.

Finally, at the end of it all he stated that for only $435 "All this can be yours! Don't miss out on your opportunity. Attend the Pittsburgh search."

It was kind of an "act now" type thing: they only gave you one day to make up your mind.

Oh, and how could I forget? They charge $45 each for tickets (child goes free), cash only, which can be paid the day of the search.

My husband and I left and hung out in the parking lot for a while pondering the situation when all of a sudden here comes the next wave of cars for the next meeting!

It seems that they had many small meetings. They wanted you to think that your child was so special. They didn't tell you that there were other groups coming in. All of a sudden I became a little disappointed. We should have left and never returned.

We decided to pay the money, attend the search with about 188 children from all over the east coast. It was quite an event.

They introduced about 30 scouts/casting directors from prominent modeling and talent agencies. It all seemed so legit. We were told that anyone who had conversation with the scouts and agents would be automatically disqualified.

They had the children do a runway presentation, a photo shoot (at which they'll sell you an 8X10 B/W, for another $45), and a small commercial read which they say was videotaped.

At the end of it all, acknowledgments were given for each category along with opportunities.

My son received acknowledgments in each category along with an opportunity. Then they announced the names of only six children out of 188 to remain after the search to speak to the Aquarian staff.

Well, as luck would have it, my son was one of the six. We were in shock! We were told that a major agency in California was interested, and at this time only wanted to know where we lived.

I thought: "Isn't that strange? Whatever happened to the crap he told us about it not mattering where you live? And furthermore, why in the hell would an agent from California attend this search in Pittsburgh, and then ask where we're from? Not our address, only where we're from?"

This event is also held in California, so you would think they would know that the Pittsburgh search covers the east.

About a month after the search, I hadn't heard anything, so I called the agency in California, and asked to speak to the person who liked my son at the Pittsburgh search.

Well, as you would have guessed, I never reached her; even though I left three messages, she never returned my calls.

In August, we finally received our opportunity letter. What could it be? The Power Ranger Lady? The Hollywood casting director?

We were so excited until we opened the letter and found it to be a local TV commercial for a country club. It was printed on a cheap run-off paper from Aquarian Associates.

It turned out to be an outdoor swimming pool shot with about 50 kids from the search. The kids sat around the pool where a low budget film crew shot about 15 seconds!

What a joke! The event was supervised by the president of Aquarian Associates, who put on a phony show as if he were some Hollywood casting director.

We were paid $40 in a check made out by Aquarian Associates, which seems odd, since they claim not to be an agency.

In closing, I feel that I've learned a valuable lesson. This outfit was very clever in how they presented themselves. We were definitely misled, duped, and outsmarted by this jerk.

The opportunities were just as phony. It's like telling someone that you're giving them a Corvette for their birthday, and then hand them a match box model.

P.H.


To Whom It May Concern:

Your information saved me a lot of time and money and from my child being very dissapointed.

Now that I know that we would have to pay hundreds of dollars to receive probably nothing in the end, we will not be attending the so-called meeting with Aquarian and Associates on Tuesday, January 28, 2002 in Birmingham, AL.

I hope others do not waste their time as well.

R.S.


To Whom It May Concern:

I too almost fell victim to the Great American Model search held in Dayton, Ohio. We also got our favorable evaluation letter and decided to attend.

These people deserve an Oscar for their talent and a six-month [...] term for the [...] that they are running. However until they misrepresent themselves there is nothing illegal about it. They are very careful on their information that they hand out and remind you repeatedly that they are not an agency and that you are not guaranteed any work.

Let's go back to the first time you were invited to this meeting. You were asked to fill out an application form about your child. On that application there was a section on your employment and job title. I can assure you that this type of information is not relevant. They will choose only a few people that are on the lower income spectrum and a large percentage of people with job titles that might pay larger salaries, so that you can afford the costs.

I took notes from the video they played during the meeting and took names of socalled producers and talent scouts. I have made numerous phone calls to agencies in New York and California. They have never heard of any of these people, and warned me repeatedly that they should not be asking for any money.

Now ask yourself if these people are well known why hasn't anyone heard of them?

Unfortunately there is no easy or inexspensive way to get your child into this business. It is very time-consuming and expensive unless you live in the area. Out of all of the big-name movie stars I do not know one that still lives in the same state they were born and raised in. Why? Because they had to go where the work was.

They also flew in a lady from North Carolina to share her success story. I talked to her extensively after the meeting. She did seem very well informed about the process. She stated that when she got into this business she was a single parent and had nothing to lose, and loves her new life, and has even purchased a house in L.A., and lives there three months out of the year so her son can audition for upcoming pilots.

I have no way of knowing if her situation is legitimate or not, but after the evening I am about to explain to you it doesn't matter. My husband and I left and decided to go home and talk it over.

That evening we thought of every possible scenario that could happen in pursuing this business good and bad. As we sat in our living room with our two daughters and son we began to realize that we have worked so hard at maintaining a good family foundation that if our son was to ever "make it" we would not want to spend the time apart that it would take to pursue it, or have our other children resent us for putting all our time and effort into our son.

So to all those people that have said our son is the most beautiful child they have ever seen all I can say is thank you. My husband and I did this together and we are staying right where we are.

Concerned Parent


To Whom It May Concern:

I am so glad I found this website before going to the "informational meeting" after my child received a "favorable evaluation." I contacted the Days Inn where it is being held and informed them they are hosting a company which [...] people.

I am also thinking of printing out letters from people who were [...]ed and taking them to the meeting and handing them out to the parents as they walk in!!!

I am so glad I found other comments before I was out a lot of money I can't afford to lose!

Thanks, everyone!

Concerned Parent


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