I preface this with that because I don't want to give the impression that this post is by some poor no-expereince soul who was swindled by a scam artist. Oh no. I've been around a while and I've seen this dog and pony show before.
Recently I was contacted by a local management company. They had messaged me on my profile through Stage32.com which by some miracle I saw (I'm never on the damn thing). So I set up an audition with them, prepared my monologue/headshot/resume and made a trip to their office. Remember it's important to note that they invited me to audition for them.
It was a terrible audition. The monologue was fine, not as funny as the film it's from but neither is the scene. But the commercial audition... Oh my lanta! It was not for a real product, it was a generic one off of their website they asked me to memorize. It was poorly written but my performance was no excuse. I gave a BAD audition. And much to my surprise the Manager asked me to sit, and discuss my future.
She asked what I noticed most about them. The first was that they were a faith based company if their logo and the cross by the door were an indication. The second was that they had a fair amount of resources for prospective talent on their website- even if they didn't list a single talent person but a lot of "clients" they've worked with.
She told me a I needed new head shots (which was true) and that in three weeks there was a New Faces mandatory meeting before they signed anyone. Ok, I'd never heard that one before but the industry is evolving so quickly right now a sort of staff meeting seems like a good way to establish expectations between new talent and the management company.
My red flags flared when they suggested one, and only one, photographer. I went to the photographers website and it was "under construction." That's all well in good, but it's still under construction. It's been that way for weeks and I can't find this photographer anywhere else. Hmmm.
I'd like to use my own photographer please.
We don't like Seattle photographers. They don't understand LA style.
Well, here's a link to her work, I would really like to at least consider her.
We don't like Seattle photographers.
I checked in with some of the casting directors I have a personal relationship with about LA style, photographers and their thoughts. Yes there is an LA style. And a NY style. And an "everywhere else" style. A good photographer will know that. No your manage/agent should never insist on only one but rather make suggestions and work with you on decisions.
Suffice it to say that I worked with my photographer. But once they saw the proofs, they couldn't find anything nice to say. Mind you, I'm not yet signed. My resume is full of current work and expected work shooting over the summer and I had just fulfilled the one thing they had requested: Get new head shots. I'm confirmed for the mandatory meeting and ready to hear their pitch on why they are the company I should work with.
Then I get an email. It talks about trust, and relationships. How they don't feel a need to do things on my terms. Basically it was an it's our way or the highway letter.
After a lifetime of film work both in front of and behind the camera I have learned a thing or two. Most importantly when to walk away. I politely thanked them for their time, and walked away.