AMTC (American Model and Talent Convention)
"I don't believe that a scouting service should cost thousands of dollars and ask that you travel long distance in order to meet with them." -- Katie Ford, President, Ford Models, New York (as quoted in A Model Profession)
This web page contains background information on AMTC (American Model and Talent Convention), comments by supermodel Cindy Crawford, expert advice from industry professionals, comments on AMTC Regional Directors, a review of AMTC advertising, consumers' complaints on hidden fees, comments about professional photography and comp cards, and a leaked telemarketing script.
The AMTC (American Model and Talent Convention) was originally named after the late Millie Lewis, a former model, who started modeling schools, the Millie Lewis modeling schools. Her daughter, Carey Lewis (now Carey Lewis Arban), took over her mother's modeling schools and then started the modeling convention. She and her husband, Dr. Bill Arban, are not only the founders but also the owners of AMTC.
The American Modeling & Talent Convention (AMTC), according to the company website, "is the most respected convention in North America."
CINDY CRAWFORD SPEAKS OUT AGAINST MODELING CONVENTIONS
EXPERT ADVICE FROM INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS
A new model should not have to spend thousands of dollars traveling to outrageously expensive "modeling conventions" in order to be "seen" by national agencies. It is a placement agent’s job to promote a model and get her placed nationally.
If a model has the potential to work in a national or international market, his or her local mother agency should be able to do the placement, or get them seen by the best agencies worldwide.
Exposure [Inc.] has a strong reputation for the placement of their models and talent in larger markets such as Los Angeles, New York, Florida, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Japan, Australia and Europe. We work closely with all of the major, legitimate modeling agencies worldwide.
Some of these agencies include Elite, Next, Ford, Wilhelmina, IMG, Trump Model Mngt., Page Parkes, Arlene Wilson, Aria Model Mngt., LA Models, Boss, Click, Karins, Paulines, New York Models, Eye for I – Milano, Visage – Japan, and numerous others. We serve as a respectable and honest model placement agency.
Jennifer Mangan, Exposure’s President and International Placement agent, travels regularly promoting Exposure models to new markets and agents. She frequently returns with signed contracts for Exposure men and women.
Source: Exposure, Inc., Kansas City, Missouri, 2003
AMTC, by its own admission, has Regional Directors. These are modeling agencies and modeling schools which evidently recruit and refer the models they represent to AMTC and/or collect fees for the AMTC modeling convention. These schools even admitted that they solicit schools and agencies to talk people into going to AMTC:
Millie Lewis International is proud to host the American Modeling & Talent Convention. One factor that separates the Millie Lewis AMTC from any other convention is our excellent network of regional Schools, Agencies, and Directors who prepare and represent our contestants.
To belong to AMTC, Directors must meet strict ethical and professional guidelines. They must include a minimum of 24 hours of instruction before the Convention. They must sign a Behavior and Ethics Agreement. If you have wondered "whom to trust," we want to take that guess work away. We invite those that we believe to be the best Directors and Scouts in the world.
All potential contestants must audition to be accepted by a registered AMTC Director and Scout. In this way, we can keep the quality high at our convention, which ensures that we will continue to host the best event in the world.
Your local AMTC Director becomes your "Mother Agent," which means that he or she will guide you, prepare you, nurture you, and protect you in your present and future dealings or placements with the international agencies in attendance.
If you are a school or agency and you want to join the Millie Lewis Convention, please contact us.
On its surface, this look legitimate; however, the preceding comments by a reputable agent, Exposure, Inc., cast serious doubts on the whole convention in general and specific parts in particular. Basically, why would a reputable agency send talent to attend an expensive convention when it is a) not necessary; b) extremely expensive; and, c) typically yields very poor results?
At what level of business ethics is an agency which sends models to the
AMTC operating? While the jury is still out on the Convention's
arrangement with Regional Directors, it is known that the arrangement of
another large convention, IMTA, with modeling schools and agencies is racketeering.
IMTA pays their "regional directors" (schools and agencies) to recruit students and models for their $5,000 convention without the models receiving disclosure of their secret financial relationship by either the agents, schools, or IMTA itself!
The most significant issue, perhaps, is the success rate of AMTC in the attendants getting modeling contracts and earning money as models. This is essentially, after all, the central purpose of the convention.
In an email in 2002, the president of MLAMTC claimed they have stopped measuring their success rate, because it has become impossible to do so. Not very long afterwards, however, a concerned parent emailed to say she had been given printed ML advertising in which they claimed to have a 25% success rate.
Even if you were to believe AMTC, which presumably was not audited independently, the competence of the "professional scouts" and so-called "regional directors" is horrendous at a 75% failure rate.
HIDDEN FEES - Letter from Parent:
The cost to attend the AMTC is around "$1,700." ($1,700). This includes three categories. Each additional category is $100. These are said to be optional, but you are also told the more categories you enter the better your chances. The $1,700 does not include the cost of the hotel, which is around $150-$200 a night. YOU HAVE to stay in the hotel where the convention is located. The convention lasts six days. Total hotel expense: $900-$1,200. ($3,900) You are told there are no hidden costs. But you must pay $100 per pass per person if you want to watch the convention. ($4,000) You pay around $600 for pictures that you have to take to the AMTC. ($4,600) The AMTC book is $35. ($4,635) I think you pay for the AMTC shirt, too. ($4,650) You must pay for your travel, food, etc. ($5,000) On the sheet they provide you are told you won't have to invest in the clothes you must wear at the convention, but when you take your clothes to the "wardrobe" check you will learn something different. You are led to believe that the $1,700 will cover everything until you pay your $500 deposit, and you get your information on the AMTC. You can't get the information until you pay the deposit. Also, you are told that you can make payments on this. You are even given a payment plan. After they get your $500, they tell you to forget about the payment plan. You can't get your money back, either. Let's say something happens and you can't attend, or you have paid for half of it, and something comes up. You have just lost your money. The total cost, roughly speaking, is around $5,000. This is when you add everything together. It's probably more than that if you take a closer look.
-- Parent by email (2002)
My experience with ML International was similar to the other parental letter. Fortunately, having some experience with another company, I knew no money should have been immediately due. Also, I have a real big problem with someone trying to "convince" me of their honesty and integrity... it should automatically come through.
After attending a convention with my daughter and the competitors reading a line or two we were then shown a film and success stories. At the end of the program we were told the cost of the convention was "1795" or "seventeen-ninety-five." My daughter thought she meant $17.95, because she made it a point to repeatedly not say "seventeen-hundred-and-ninety-five" dollars.
We were then told that a $500 deposit would be due today if you were called back. Well ultimately she was called. When I told them that there was no possibility of having the money today, they thanked me and asked us to come another time.
After reading how the cost grew I am ever appreciative that we did not put down the money, since it would have inevitably been lost.
Thank you for posting the comments because in the program they tell you to check them out at the Better Business Bureau, but I found that link to be uninformative.
-- Parent by email (2004)
At least four parents who paid for their children to attend the American Modeling & Talent Convention said they paid for professional photography prior to the convention. This was at the advice of or it was a requirement of AMTC. According to the above email excerpt, "You pay around $600 for pictures that you have to take to the AMTC."
This is a total violation of modeling industry standards. Agents and experts all advise against spending money on professional photography, comp cards, and portfolios before you get representation with a modeling agency. Furthermore, the price AMTC charges is far in excess of what those who do have representation should pay.
As if the entire convention was not expensive enough with the admission price, hotel expense, travel costs, and everything else, they throw in another $600 for "professional" photos and prints, which incidentally, many agents don't need, many times don't want, and, may, in fact, toss out.
If you visit the websites of the agencies whose agents supposedly attend AMTC, you can find out for yourself what type of pictures they want and don't want.
According to one parent who paid ML for professional pictures prior to AMTC, the photographer was on staff at an ML agency, yet he was not even a professional photographer, but they were asked to pay professional photography rates!
Therefore the only conclusion is the money parents spend for professional pictures prior to the AMTC is going straight into the pockets of Millie Lewis. For every 1,000 kids who attend AMTC and pay $600 for pictures, $600,000 is going to AMTC, money that may or may not be split with photographers.
Consumer Comments (Feb 2004)
My daughter was so excited, she heard about it on the radio. How could it be a scam? After all it was on her favorite station.
I was not so sure. I didn't want to rain on her parade, so I agreed to keep her out of school for the day and bought her a new outfit.
We went to the audition, but something just did not seem right about it. I didn't say anything to my daughter she was too excited.
Moving on... she did her reading, danced and sang. We had a wonderful time watching all the people get up and show of their talent... or not. Only thing missing was Simon from American Idol.
The next morning the phone rang.
"Good News," said the lady on the line. She has been called back. For the small price of... I said no thanks and hung up.
Now I have the painful task of telling my sweet, talented little girl that it was all a ****.
I do have to say... we had a wonderful time together!
Not sucked in,
Mom in Dallas
See also Online Discussion of AMTC