I’m writing this post as a PSA to Michigan talent, or anyone interested in the acting industry in Michigan. Any agency that asks you for money UPFRONT is a SCAM!!!! Agents make their money off of commission, meaning they get you auditions, you book the work, you get paid, then you pay them their fee. The only legitimate agency I know that charges you to join is Real Style, an extras casting agency. Last I knew, they charged $15 as a one-time fee to put you into their database, but I know that they have done extras casting on many major films and they get you PAID work. In fact, companies like JR Galactic are the ones you should stay away from. I once did an extras gig on Trivial Pursuits (now changed to Answer This!), that I found through a message from I-Group, and was paid $50/day. The extras that were cast from JR Galactic were only given $30/day…wonder where the rest of it was going?
If you are interested in finding an agency, these are the ONLY SAG/AFTRA-franchised agencies that I know of in Michigan:
1) Charlie’s Talent Agency (CTA)–I am exclusive with this agency for film/tv work. They specialize in film/tv.
2) Productions Plus (Talent Shop is now joined with them)–PP is a huge agency and does commercial, industrial, and print work, as well as film/TV. So if you’re interested in modeling, car shows, etc., this is a great way to get in and get started.
3) I-Group–I-Group casts models for fashion, print, etc. along with film/TV, so again, probably an easier one to get started with.
A good way to be prepared to join any of these agencies is to have A) headshots for film/TV work, and B) comp cards if you’re going into modeling. Simply having a resume of extra/stand-in work isn’t really enough to get you noticed now. Try getting involved with some student films, or local indie productions, and even local theatres for some stage acting experience. I am a SAG member, but it took me a long time to get where I am. I have extensive stage acting experience, along with having participated in Grosse Pointe South’s show choir program for all 4 years of high school, not to mention being in choir and/or band most of the rest of my K-12 education. Even after high school, I participated in some student/indie films, and local theatre productions, doing whatever I could to participate and gain experience. If you have talent and you work hard at it, eventually it’ll pay off for you, too.
These are just my words of advice, everyone has a different path to follow. Maybe my advice won’t work for you, but I think it’s a good basic guide on what to do. Best of luck and break a leg!
PS: With all the films coming in to the state to film, a lot of scammers have been popping up, offering you the world for the small fee of, say, $500 or whatever they charge. Remember that NONE of these companies are legitimate, and you can always call the SAG offices to find out if an agency is actually franchised or not, or look them up on the BBB, Better Business Bureau. I was once at an indie animated audition, and a gentleman was there saying he’d helped organize the audition, and had formed a new agency and was looking for new talent. He asked me what I’d been working on and there were so many red flags that popped up about him as soon as we started having a conversation about the industry. 1) He didn’t even know who the casting agents were that I was mentioning I’d had auditions with the past few months, and these are the local casting agents the Hollywood films have been using to find local talent. 2) He didn’t know the current projects that were shooting here, and anyone who follows the film industry at ALL, by reading local newspapers or looking online could find this out. 3) He has no film industry experience. I won’t mention his agency name because I don’t want to smear him, but I’m sharing this story to warn you of the people that appear out of the woodwork when they smell money to be made and some easy prey. You have to be careful and do your research so you don’t fall victim to these industry vultures.
Cindy Chu--Actress--Charlie's Talent Agency