Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Bait 'n' Switch

I just went to a casting at a place called Castaways on Beverly. It's a well-known studio and I've been there on many different occasions.

So I'm there for a Mastercard print audition and I see a few other Asians there. But it's not quite clear whether this is an Asian-specific casting, since I see folks from every race there. Perhaps they'll be doing several different ads with different races.

A guy who I've seen around at these things starts to do what a lot of actors/models tend to do, especially when work begins to slow down: Ask if everyone else has been slow.

The conversation goes something like this:
"So, how's things going? You've been going out a lot?"
"Oh, here and there."
"You know, I haven't gone out for a commercial since December!"
"What about you? Have you been going out, what, every week? Two times a week?"
"Oh, no. Not me. Not two times a week. Maybe once a week, if I'm lucky."
"Yeah. It's been slow."
"Man, I gotta change my agent. I booked five commercials last year and they don't even send me out!"
"Wow, five, huh? That's pretty good!"
"Well, I didn't make any money off of 'em."
"Yeah, well, I booked a few jobs last year and saw the contracts, right? So, this one job says we don't need you for the general market anymore. We just need you for the Asian market. So, we're not going to pay you the $3,000. We're paying you $1,200."
"Yeah. I did this one job for XXXXXX and they said it was just a small job. Turns out, I'm in 50 magazines nationwide! I got $2,000 for that!"

At this point, I'm thinking that if I agreed to do a job for $2,000 and they put my image in 50 magazines, then that's what I gotta live with. Print models don't have a union, so they rely on their agent to protect them. Also, print agents tend to make 20 percent commission off you, and 20 percent from the hiring company. That's a pretty big chunk of dough! The 20 percent extra is something I don't understand. It seems that extra 20 should go to pay for my commission. But no, I gotta pay that too.

Anyway, the guy mentioned something that I've heard of and have actually been burned on before. A company sends out a casting for a job that pays N dollars. But once you book the job, they tell you something has changed and that you'll only get M dollars. You're thinking, "Well, I still booked it, so why not? Okay, pay me M." Problem is, many ad agencies know they can get away with it. Why? Because they've GOTTEN away with it.

Why do they do it? To get the best pool of talent, you have to offer a nice-lookin' carrot. Later, when that carrot changes to a smaller carrot, you still got the best pool of talent to choose from. See? Bait 'n' switch. Not only do advertisers do it on the page, they do it in the casting.

Okay, this sounds like sour grapes, doesn't it? Well, it is. And as I'm sure someone has said it before: Sour grapes make the best whine.

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