Beware The Rise of Abusive Hiring
And Talent Representation Tactics
May 27, 2012
Note: The author is also the author of VoiceOverXtra's new eBook, Voice Over LEGAL, the voice actor's comprehensive guide to business and legal issues, including business structure, contracts, taxes, legal liabilities, copyrights, insurance, working with agents, unions and more. DETAILS.
By Robert Sciglimpaglia Jr.
Voice Actor, Actor, Attorney
I am seeing more and more abuses of actors and voice actors lately, as non-union "actors” flood the business, especially in voice over. Here are some of these appalling things.
PAYING TO AUDITION
I just got a request for an audition, in which the seeker asks ME for a $10 application fee! Are you kidding?
That audition went immediately to the DELETE folder, but I am SURE they will have no shortage of actors who call themselves "professional” showing up at their door.
Last time I checked, being a pro meant you got paid for your work.
PAYING MONTHLY "RETAINERS”
More and more "representatives,” i.e., managers or agents, are asking talent to pay them cash to be their manager or agent.
This is a disturbing trend. Oh sure, that $25 monthly "maintenance” fee may look innocent now, but it is a very slippery slope. If $25 is OK, then why not $100, or even $1,000 a month?
In my opinion, this is rarely worth it, so think twice before paying a fee. Again, you are the pro. Your agents should make money only when you make money.
If a "manager" or agent refuses to negotiate terms in their contract, run - do not walk - to the nearest door (unless, of course it is the old union franchised agreement).
This is a major red flag. And it is especially true if the agent or manager asks you to sign something called or titled General Services Agreement, which is written to be very one sided in favor of the agent. This is a new trend in actor abuses - even amongst union actors.
Sure, there will be a line-up of talent only too eager to sign on that dotted line - until there is a problem. And that is when I, as the attorney, get the call. (That call is rarely made before they sign the agreement, which is when I can actually do something about it.)
THEY VIOLATE UNION RULES
Those are just a few of the many abuses I hear about daily from actors and voice actors. All are in complete violation of union rules, and if actors continue to be unwise or even stupid about them, well, that is why the union was and will always be necessary.
Despite this - and without getting into the controversy about fair pay - I hear non-union actors every day say: "I don’t need the union.”
This article is in no way intended to be a "should I join the union?" discussion. Nor is it pro or anti-union.
However, these are issues that unions have fought over in order to protect their members. They are basic and very valid issues. So take notice. For every performer who ignores safe practices, there are dozens more willing to step in.
Do we really think so little of ourselves and our profession that we will even consider being "ripped off”? Do we really want to "be on TV” that badly?
It makes no sense to me. And I didn’t have to go to law school to figure it out.
ABOUT ROBERT ...
Robert J. Sciglimpaglia Jr. is a popular voice actor, actor and attorney representing voice actors, actors and other performers. He is also owner of All In One Voice, a voice over instruction and business/legal services firm. And he is author of the 120-page Voice Over LEGAL eBook, a comprehensive guide to business and legal issues for voice actors and other performers.
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