Faces West Model and Talent Convention
To Whom It May Concern:
I have an urgent request for any information on the Faces
West Model and Talent Convention in Vancouver,
British Columbia, Canada.
Their website address is www.faceswest.com.
I have a friend who is willing to part with her life
savings in the hope of being "discovered" as
an actor there.
I have given her this website address, but she believes
this convention is different, because there will be some "big
It costs CDN $2,600 for this four-day convention. I'm
very concerned this will be a costly mistake. Any info
would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
How urgent is this? When is the convention? Has she
already made up her mind?
You said the point of her resistance (or insistence)
was "there will be some 'big names' there."
This is not the issue which makes a convention a scam
or not a scam. (Most conventions have big names.) The
main issues are the screening process and the success
How did they screen applicants? Is there the typical
conflict of interest? If so how does she explain away
the conflict of interest where they have a vested interest
in recruiting people whom they know will not be selected
because they are paid for it.
Did they tell her their success rate? If not, why not?
(I didn't see it on their website, did you?)
Is she ready to move to a primary acting market at the
drop of a hat if someone likes her? Just for casting
calls? (Representation by an agency does not equal selection
by clients.) If she is blowing her entire savings on
this convention, how can she afford to move?
Recently a casting director said if you don't live in
NY/LA, you're wasting your money and time going to a
To add to that, if you do live in NY/LA, why do you
need to go to a convention? The casting directors are
in your city. Visit them.
If she is in Canada, is she in the Canadian equivalent,
e.g. "Hollywood North"?
Is this the best timing for her to be discovered? If
she waits a year and develops her talent, will her chances
If she goes now and spends everything, will she be able
to afford to go next year when her skills and chances
Thanks for your quick reply.
The convention is being held in two weeks, but they
(the modelling agency) wanted a commitment by October
29; hence my urgent concern (I have just found out about
I have passed this email on to her and she is willing
to check out the points you have raised.
She has been doing theatre for a few years, but has
not had much luck with the casting director in our city.
Mind you, there aren't a lot of tv/movies/commercials
being filmed here.
I know in the end it's her decision, but I wanted it
to be an informed one. I'd hate to see her lose all her
money if it is not reputable.
Do you know if modelling agencies get kickbacks from
these sorts of events? This one agency is trying to get
as many people to go as possible. They have a fairly
large contingent at each of these.
I also have concerns because on the agency's website
it said last year it was CDN $2,100, and this year it's
Once again, thanks for your help.
You asked: "Do you know if modelling agencies get
kickbacks from these sorts of events?"
Interestingly enough, the person who wrote after you,
who used to work at a modeling agency which sends aspiring
models to modeling conventions, said they are paid.
Indeed, it looks as if they can and do markup the prices.
Considerably. So in the case of the convention you asked
about, after which you noted, "this year it's
$500 more," that could explain the markup. ($500
is certainly higher than the inflation rate.)
The issue came up recently. You start to wonder whether
agencies are paid commissions, because certain things
look suspicious, and the insider has confirmed the
suspicions, at least for one major agency which for a
long time has had strong ties with a convention.
Why did conventions look suspicious?
Firstly, because conventions happen only once or twice
a year, and what about all the other times? What do agencies
do then? The modeling world does not stop and it does
not wait until the next convention.
Secondly, modeling agents who send models to conventions
perform the same function as the convention scouts who
send models to conventions, and these scouts are paid
Thirdly, when you realize how much money the convention
organizers make off each convention, it stands to reason
they would be prepared to give a commission or some kind
of financial kickback for every person who is recruited
by anyone, not just by their model scouts, but also by
any model agents.
Fourthly, there are some unusually strong ties between
some modeling agencies and certain modeling conventions,
yet neither the agencies not the conventions provide
disclosure of the relationships. Apparently, for example,
there are directors of the conventions who are also directors
It sounds as if you already saw the same potentially
clear and significant conflict of interest in recruiting.
Whenever you hear or see "one agency is trying to
get as many people to go as possible," as you said,
it is often a clue they are being paid a commission.
If this is indeed the case with the Faces West Model
and Talent Convention, there are two conflicts of interest,
not only with the convention organizers recruiting people
who have not been effectively screened, but also with
modeling agencies being paid to recruit people who are
not effectively screened.
In any case and in any event, the more you hear about
modeling conventions, how people are recruited, who is
being paid, and how much they are paid, the more difficult
it is to trust the "opinion" of anyone from convention
scouts to modeling agents et al who recommend going
I thought it incredibly odd that an aspring model/actor
would have to fork out so much dough. After
all, don't these "big" names have money? Of
course they do. Lots. So why aren't they the
ones sponsoring the event?
In actual fact, the coordinator of the event is Charles
Stuart, who runs a —you guessed it —Modelling
and Talent agency in Vancouver.
So really, one is not only dealing with their own modelling/talent
agency, but another one as well, before they even get to
This goes a long way to explaining how some modelling
agencies in small cities stay afloat.
Last year's price was listed on the modelling/talent
agency website that my friend deals with. There
is no stated price for this year, but she was given
a quote of $500 more than last year.
As well, the Faces West website does not list any price.
I emailed them and asked them, in the guise of a young
aspiring actor, but have received no reply as of yet.
I checked the BBB; Charles Stuart Agency is listed
as satisfactory, but the BBB have said they have
repeatedly tried to get info from the Faces West Convention
and have been unsuccessful.
But, the BBB label, in my opinion, doesn't guarantee
anything, anyway. I just recently moved; the BBB stated
my mover was in good standing, yet there were definitely
questionable billing practices.
To file a complaint with the BBB is quite a process.
So how many people really want to go through the hassle?
Or how many people are too embarrassed to admit they've
been scammed and don't speak up?
In any case, someone's making a lot of money, and I
bet it isn't the poor schmucks with stars in their eyes.
Maybe a few do get signed, but again, on the Faces West
website, under success stories, it states "these
people (complete with photos) have 'visited' these cities." No
mention of "worked" in these cities, or "signed" by
this agency. Hmmm.
In my haste, I neglected to say what a wonderful and
truly informative site you have. You are doing many people
a great service and I can't
thank you enough.
You said: "This goes a long way to explaining how
some modelling agencies in small cities stay afloat."
You raised an important issue. Many scams seem to happen
in the smaller cities. The fact is you can make more
money without scamming in larger cities. But in the minor
or virtually irrelevant cities, where there is little
work, and you still only get 20% commission, that 20%
commission does not go far.
Part of the reason is the minor markets not only offer
little work, the little work they offer is low end, making
that 20% commission even more insignificant. Models can
complain they earn little, but their 80% take is a lot
more than the 20% for the agency.
This is one reason why agencies in minor markets or
small cities seek supplemental income with "modeling
schools" (finishing schools), photography scams,
modeling conventions, pageants, etc.
I totally agree with you about the BBB. After reviewing
BBB files and consumer complaints as they appear on this
website, and comparing the two, it appears as if there
are flaws in the BBB system, or ways companies have found
to beat the system.
My conclusion is if the BBB says a company is bad, that
means more than the BBB saying the company is good. The
unsatisfactory ratings are more accurate than the satisfactory
You wrote: "As well, the Faces West website does
not list any price."
It seems odd to find a modeling convention which does
not include the price on their website. I have visited
the websites of several modeling conventions, and I don't
recall seeing even one of them including their price.
I challenged one of the conventions to be upfront, but
they still have not included the price.
Why isn't the price on their website? Is it because
people don't want to know? Hardly. It is one of the most
basic things everyone wants to know. So the question
is if it is to the advantage of the consumer to know
the price through their website, but they do not provide
it, is it to the advantage of the convention to not include
the price? It must be or they would include it.
Do they need to work consumers into a frenzy, totally
psyched out by their sales pitch, worked over by a pressure
presentation, before they can even bring up the topic
of the cost?
It happens time and time again with the companies which
want upfront fees. They leave the price out until the
end. They start the brainwashing and, by the time they
are done with their promo, and they state the price,
it sounds like a bargain.
The irony is ridiculous. These people want upfront fees,
but they are not up front about the fees. Have you noticed
how most all of them which want the upfront fees are