AREN’T EMPLOYERS SUPPOSED TO PAY ME?


            Ever been for a job where they have asked you to pay them? I have.

            On Wednesday (November 8th 2006) I had an interview / Audition at a modeling and extras agency in Manchester. I  shall spare the owner the embarrassment of continuing to identify him by name. I picked up word of the work through the nearby job centre, in Fountain Street, so it seemed legitimate enough.  After initially being sent to the Irish Bank on the same Street, as several other clients were as well, much to the bank’s exasperation) I found the office of the extras project manager. .  

He was a pleasant enough chap to talk to. He interviewed me briefly on previous experience as an extra. I did work on a dire TV series called Coasting in the early 1990’s. I still get spotted in it when it gets repeated on Satellite TV stations that will show any old rubbish. The series was cancelled without a second season. I also worked on an advert for an Australian telephone company. The advert was filmed in a pub in Oldham, which meant that myself and about forty other extras got free beer all day.

Acting wise, I have been in a few stage plays; mostly Dave Wake spoof plays which I have performed at Science Fiction conventions. I played King Edward (Longshanks) in a mock production of Shakespeare’s Richard 3rd. I was the ape that threw the bone into the sky in a stage show send up of 2001; A Space Odyssey.  I wrote and starred in my own short play, Drinks After The Meeting, which ran for two shows (I was under-studied for the second performance). I was marvelous in all of these events, Luvvies, honestly.

The 'Agent' was also impressed by the fact that I am an award winning performance poet, though when he asked me to perform one of my odes on the spot as an audition monologue (something I was not expecting), he looked a little baffled. I half expected an immediate ‘don’t call me; I’ll call you response’  but he decided I was worth putting on his books. Then came the crunch. He asked me to pay him.  I was expected to stump up the princely sum of £30.00 to pay for the photos he would need to make my portfolio to show to the hordes of producers who apparently call at his door seeking the talented likes of myself.

I looked at him in some disbelief. I had just heard him tell me how my appearances could net me as much as £200.000 per day. Surely, I thought, if he was confident of placing me in some production or other, he would merely be able to deduct his paltry £30.00 from my first payment. Nay, alas. I was expected to stump up the cash myself.

I recently had communication with another extra who signed up to this individual's books. She was also asked to perform for the agent, and offered to do apiece  she knew well by Harold Pinter.  The agent had no idea who he was, though he is of course one of the biggest name dramatists of the 20th century. The person who  did the audition  then decided to pay the £30.00  and received a less than satisfying 'mug-shot'  photo shoot outside the agency office in blustery conditions. I have concluded therefore, that giving £30.00 to this particular agent  will be as useful to my Thespian ambitions as throwing the money to the autumn breeze.

If anyone should seek my likes for their productions, I am available. You can see FREE pictures of me at  PHOTOGRAPHS OF ME  

I am naturally inclined to the acting and extras side of the industry, though I have no qualms about modeling too. I am even prepared to do life-studies and nude work, though most artists and photographers would presumably pay me to put my clothes on. Now there’s a thought.

Seriously speaking, modeling agencies should not exploit their clients by expecting them to make a down payment or deposit on their futures like this. From what I see, the chap I auditioned before will use the money you pay him to take the photos as he says, and then he just puts out an online page about you, which film, TV show and model seeking studio producers browse through as if they were going through the Argos catalogue. They take up the pretty clients required, leaving ugly bugs like myself on the shelf. Such agents, will happily put anyone and everyone on the books as long as they stump up the deposits. They do  not select their clients carefully, or by some yardstick of talent, but merely by their passionate desire to work in the industry. If he had genuine faith in his clients, I believe My wannabe agent in Manchester  would not want to take out his £30.00 as an advance on my wages. Sadly, he does. I have therefore decided to spend my £30.00 elsewhere.

 10th November 2006.


© Copyright. Arthur Chappell