Model and Talent Search Canada (MTSC)
Questions / Complaints


To Whom It May Concern:

Model and Talent Search Canada (MTSC) is based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. They came to Saskatoon and egina, Saskatchewan, Canada, to solicit hopeful models and actors for their convention in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in February 2002.

In similar form to many of the conventions already reported on the site, it selected would-be prospects for callbacks to attend the convention at a cost of $595, plus hotel, travel, additional fees, and guest fees.

WOW. Even in Canadian dollars, this represents an astronomical sum.

What was most troublesome to me, however, was the use of reputable brand names in commercial scripts to market the convention to potential models and actors and to lend credibility to the enterprise.

As a professional actor and casting director, I am very familiar with the entertainment industry and the ways and means of hiring commercial talent. The use of model conventions by famous brand names to cast television commercials has NEVER been one.

And so I contacted each of the companies being represented by MTSC through the use of commercial scripts which were read during the "audition process" of the convention.

I did this not because I am a trouble-maker, but because I would not let my 11-year-old daughter attend these "auditions."

She wailed: "Oh great, mom. Now everybody I know is gonna be in a GAP commercial but ME!"

It seems that although they were not told directly that they would be in GAP commercials if they went to the convention, several young people who were questioned were under that impression, as were some parents who had already made a deposit.

THE GAP replied immediately: they do not cast their commericals in Canada. All THE GAP ad campaigns are cast and filmed in major US cities, like New York and Los Angeles.

Currently, GAP ads feature famous faces like Carole King. As did HOSTESS FRITO-LAY, AMERICAN SAFETY RAZOR, and COLGATE.

Although Mastercard was notified, they have not responded.

However, all those that did respond expressly denied any knowledge of the use of their products by Model and Talent Search Canada, and were very interested in the use of their brand names for commerical purposes without their consent.

After checking with all of their advertising agencies on record to ensure this was not the case, the Colgate people seemed genuinely concerned about the negative effect on any young person who thought they would be in a Colgate toothpaste commercial if they attended the convention.

Others were genuinely peeved. The Hostess Frito-Lay General Counsel (corporate lawyer) stated in his letter to me: "We take very seriously any unauthorized or improper use of our trademarks, and very much appreciate your assistance in alerting us to this matter. We will be advising Model and Talent Search Canada that they must immediately stop using the Lay's script or any reference to our brands."

I contacted the president of MTSC with my concern. He asserted that he provides an invaluable service to the public by introducing them to key players in the entertaiment industry by way of his conventions.

I think he also threatened to sue me for rocking his boat with the companies mentioned.

Fine by me. I would gladly step up to the legal plate to bring this guy and others like him into public scrutiny.

Any company that maliciously preys on the dreams of young people should be run out of town and straight into corporate insolvency.

The cost of a postage stamp will get you a fair assessment by a legitimate model agent/scout.

If you are an actor, you will need a talent agent, and a meeting with them is FREE.

Even if you live in a small town, auditions can be done on video and sent to the casting director at minimal expense to you.

Remember: agents need YOU to build a successful business and a reputable talent roster. It will cost you some money to get started (head shots/comp cards/portfolios/acting classes), but model and talent conventions are, in my professional opinion, a great big waste of it.

Do not let the lure of success fool you. The beauty of the twenty-first century is brains.

S.S., Concerned Parent, Saskatoon, SK


To Whom It May Concern:

Last May I went to the Model and Talent Search Canada (MTSC) convention in Winnipeg. I paid the $600 and went and did the auditions for acting.

By the end of the weekend, I had gotten nine call backs from agencies all over North America. But they basically all said that I should contact them in the future after I've had proper acting training.

Is this the way a real talent scouting works? Was I being scammed? Or does it sound legit?

It's too late to change things now, but I think about it all the time. I just want to know if it sounds like I had $600 stolen from me, or if the agents were just being honest with me.

I hope to hear from you very soon. It's so hard to get into the acting business when everyone out there knows just what to say to get you to cough up your money. It's really, really hard.

Thank you,

N.T.


N.,

You're asking about acting, as opposed to modeling, but the same principles in evaluating the financial risk presumably apply.

Look at the basis of your selection and the method of screening.

Firstly, on what basis did MTSC select you? Had you previously received formal training? Or did you just do a brief audition for them?

Secondly, was there any screening by the agents who attended the convention prior to payment? Did MTSC send a video of your acting to the talent agents before the convention?

Had the talent agents seen your record of training and your video and resume before the convention, would they have asked to see you?

Or would they have said: "Contact us in the future after you've had proper acting training"?

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