Main Line Models and Talent in Media, Pennsylvania (www.mainlinemodelsandtalent.com)

August 18, 2005

[Last Updated: September 29, 2005 ]

Consumer Question

I do not have a complaint at this time.

I am new to the field and am doing my usual research prior to pursuing my
interest.

My child is interesting in acting/modelling.  My child has interviewed with
this agency.  They seem legitimate and their website seems legitimate,
www.mainlinemodelsandtalent.com.

The interview required a snapshot (no money there).  However, the agency
required my child to take a few coaching lessons prior to any audition.
This seems reasonable since they want to be sure of who they send out on
auditions to represent their company. They have a coach on site.  My child
has started taking these lessons at $50 per hour.  4-5 lessons should be
necessary ($250).  This does not seem like a lot of up front money.
However, the agency now told me that my child needs a headshot and they
bring in photographers for these headshots ($175-$250).  Headshots are
required for bookings.  This is the only up front money that has been
proposed.

They refer to the better business bureau on their website.

However, in reading the research on your website, I notice that a legitimate
agency will not require classes or special photographers.  It appears that
this agency is doing so.  However, it also appears that their reasons are
legitimate.

How can I be sure that this is not a scam.   Am I reading too much into
their procedures?  Or are these real red flags?

There is no contract signed so I can stop now with no repercussions.
However, if these people are legitimate and as reputable as they appear, I
would like to pursue this for my child.

Can you give me any advice, what should I watch out for, how can I ease my
fears.

Concerned Parent

Comments

They are heavily involved with IMTA; there is even a special imta webpage on their site. (http://www.mainlinemodelsandtalent.com/showcases.htm) [Aug. 17, 2005). IMTA is a company that has left a lot of people $5,000-$10,000 poorer very quickly. Moreover, since Main Line Models and Talent is not a new agency, and supposedly has been operating for 30-odd years, you would think they are well connected. But if they are well connected, why would they send talent to IMTA? The whole point of IMTA is to connect with agents.

Association with IMTA doesn't prove an agency is a scam, but in this case it shows a mindset where they really don't care if your money is wasted. It is also possible that Main Line Models and Talent, like other agencies, splits the $5,000 fee with IMTA without telling parents before they drop 5K. You would certainly want to ask them or find out. Granted, you didn't mention Mainline had recommended IMTA to you; the point is that you looking at their relationship with IMTA can help you understand their standards and help you question other aspects of their business.

You'll find many of the agencies that attend IMTA are "school–agencies," that is, modeling schools and modeling agencies. Main Line Models and Talent, from what you said, and what their site says, is one of those school–agencies. You are correct, they make a legitimate argument, the talent should be prepared for work, and classes and headshots can prepare him. But the conflict of interest issue remains. Do they rep your child b/c they think he has potential, or b/c he'll pay for classes and pictures?

The way you resolve this issue is to follow the money. Are the payments made to Main Line? The litmus test financial question, which, in one form or another, is a point of focus by anyone who warns about modeling and talent scams is: Does the agency make any money (off the classes and/or pictures, etc.) before your child works? An agency can recommend classes, pictures, etc., without there being a conflict of interest, but only if its sole income is from commissions on jobs.

You should find out if there are any more hidden fees they forgot to tell you about ("However, the agency now told me that my child needs a headshot.") Is that the cost of photography only, not including the prints? Is there anything else?

Finally, after checking out the legal and ethical issues, you could find out their success rate. How many kids your child's age have they got work for in the last year, and how much did the talent earn? Perfectly lawful and ethical agencies are all well and good, but if they hardly book anyone, it's a waste of your time and money.

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