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Monday, February 25, 2008

Model Management UK/West 1 Fiasco

Some things you just cannot Film.




click Here To Download

Well there I was flicking through the job ads bit of the paper on lonely and desolate Wednesday afternoon. Scanning for stuff I would be interested in and not the shit jobs I have had over the last few years. I have to do this once a week now as I don’t work for Survey and Laser anymore.....(shock, like we didn’t know that was going to happen!) But for a fuller explanation I am not the person to tell, albeit to say, we came to an arrangement that benefited both parties and we will never speak of it again. SO END OF STORY.

Anyway back to the drudgery.....

There was a bus driver training course, tick, application form in the post, thank you very much and then as if it was spotlighted from above, the job I would most want to do in the whole world, BECOME AND EXTRA.


Right I’ll get up early on Saturday and Go..... This was my first flaw....

You see if I had bothered looking on the internet before hand this sorry tale would not have taken place, but me being me, decided that drinking Alcohol was a great Idea...

So I drank, I drank to help me heal from the ordeal I had to face at the return to work interview at Survey, I have found that once I quit or leave from a job, it’s like the end of a love affair, and in my case, brutal. So a good friend of mine once told me his way of getting over a love affair and it always works...

He said “Get drunk for about 4 days after, this will empty your memory and you will end up stronger and you’ll think to yourself, ‘what the hell was I thinking there, never mind, onwards and upwards” (Darren Bridges 1990)

So Saturday came, I had a bath, shaved and used this lovely ex-foliating scrub, which resembles the kind of stuff I used to polish up my chrome with on my motorbike, but I doesn’t half shift the dead skin cells off your face......I am not one really for male grooming, but I had to impress, I am no oil painting as you well know.

I hurried into town and went to the hotel. I started filming myself going through the form and commenting on how the presentation staff were quite good looking, and generally doing my usual videoblogging stuff, being dorky and sarcastic about stuff. I even managed to get some great views of the city, when you are on the 11th floor of a hotel, you get the best views, I even opened a window and took a horizontal shot of the street, cars were passing and it looked awesome. I finished off my application form which was basically, name, address, measurements etc, what kind of wok you were looking for in the industry, I put down extra work.

I handed my application in to one of the lovely and I mean stunning overly made up ladies, in fact come to think of it, they did kind of resemble those models who played guitars behind the late great Robert Palmer in that video for “Simply Irresistible. I got my number 133, and sat down and waited. They called out 113, then 114, and I thought well I am in for a bit of a wait, so I read through the Terms and Conditions, apparently there will be a charge of £249.50 for a photo shoot so they can pass your details onto third parties so you will get work, ha, what the hell I thought, if this is a way in, I’ll have to dump the new clutch on my car idea for a bit...

Then they called my number out, 133, could you come this way please....

Oh, I thought this is out of the blue. I wonder if because I work with video online they have seen my work and already they know loads about me and were waiting for me to show up because they had work for me already..... (deluding Myself)

I was bought into a room where, a little girl was being photographed for her photo set, and introduced to the highly tanned, orange faced in other words photographer, who asked me to go over to the corner and wait for him to finish the shoot.

He is actually Very Orange in real life!!!

He then came over and asked me why I was here, I shrugged and said that they had called my number out and I followed, why?

He said, “ that I was taking video and they didn’t like that because of trading standards, and also kids where in the hotel.” He also made some comment about me being a pedophile, which I found shocking as that kind of thing annoys me more than racism.

I explained that I had no interest in the kids and explained what I was doing, videoblogging on how to get into extra work. To which he said, “ I want you to delete the footage.”


And then assigned me a lovely looking lady to supervise the deletion, I could have said no but thought hey, there must be more to this than meets the eye, so I held down delete until it said “ memory empty” and was then told that they would not select me at this time, but they would keep my application on file for next time, at this I thought, I don’t want this company to have my personal details, you never know what they might do with them. So I asked for them back and screwed them up into a ball, I was then asked to leave and was escorted off the premises.

I wandered around town a little confused and angry, not only was I not very good at confrontations, I also had this nagging sensation about Citizen Journalism, which is basically what I do. Also all those great city scape shot I had got where lost. I had failed, one count of giving up my footage, and two, not sticking up to them.

I was going to get a coffee, when I thought, no it’s already paid for at home, so i went home.

I started thinking, I wonder if I ask Google if you had to pay up from to be an extra, so I logged on and very quickly, it appears that, this kind of thing had been happening for years, and it was actually a scam.



This is how it works.

You set up a company, easy, buy certain things, a computer a expensive “looking” camera, a backdrop and lighting, cheep as possible, but they have to look the part, so probably from the bargain bin at Jessops (Local Camera Store). Some nice looking promotional girls who do this kind of thing very well and can flatter people to boost their confidence, their other main role is the handing out of paper and smiling a lot. get a friend to make you a snazzy website made from flash, then book a hotel suite at the weekend when it’s cheapest. Then put an add in the paper, promising the world and not mentioning that you will need to pay cash up front, convenient!!! Oh and most importantly a Polaroid Camera!!! See video Investigations by the BBC as to this part of the puzzle.

Then watch as you are inundated with everyone from babies in arms to teenager to students and fat farts like me, all wanting your attention.

Oh don’t worry that you can’t take a photo properly, the photo shoot is bogus anyway and if you have perfected what a head and shoulders shot, a full length shot and reclining shot looks like then any of your efforts will be greatly recieved, even though they look like crap, and in some cases the beautiful starlets who paid good money for this starter portfolio, are photographed in such a way that no amount of photo-shopping can take away the resemblance to that “bride of Dracula" look, that you really want in your portfolio, unless you really want to be the next "Bella Legosi".

So, word your literature correctly explaining that you will to pay upfront for this photo session and you are away.

Be professional about it though make people wait, call out the numbers one at time and when you have the punters at the table, butter them up and flatter them, smile as much as you can, you will soon see the poor sucker, reaching into their handbag or wallet faster than a rat up a drainpipe.

Then because you are not an agency but merely a management facility who approaches agencies for you, they can’t guarantee you work, but can and will pass your details on to agencies who will get back to you, and offer to take you on, so long as you pay for a further photo shoot, costing around £150.

Psst!!, I should mention that at this time, you really should set up several other companies under the guise of Agents. Because that’s how the plan works. Once you have paid for the photo shoot on the day, they go away and write to you or phone you from these bogus agencies to get even more money off you. It’s that simple, these agencies can’t offer you work either.

So a lot of people end up paying up to £1000 if they have say twins, for both photo shoots.

This practice is going on today and most weekends around the country, beware folks you have been warned.

The company's name is Model Management UK, the website is West 1 promotions, they have a strange way of road-showing, instead of having a route which takes then from one town to another, they obviously go back to base during the week and end up in a very different town at the weekend, well away from the previous weekend, possibly an evasion technique.

This is their Snazzy Website, this may change it does so from week to week Last week it was west1promotions.co.uk.

There is more information in the way of flash videos below. These include ITV, Channel 5 and the BBC investigations.

BBC Look North - West 1 Scam 30thOct 07

Add to My Profile | More Videos

BBC One 'Inside Out' 16Feb07

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Channel Five News Scam Up-Front Fees 19Dec06

Add to My Profile | More Videos

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Clive Hurst (click here to go to website)

May I introduce to you Mr Clive Hirst, he is on the counsel of the actors and models union equity. And has lead a one man campaign to rid the country of this kind of scam.
I spoke to him about what had happened and that I had read all his posts etc, and thought I could do something by the way of warning people before they go in, by handing out leaflets, because I felt terrible think of all of those mothers and students who were being fleeced by this operation, he thought it was a great idea and put me in touch with a victim who was waiting for them to come back, so that she could demand a refund.

So we agreed to meet up at 10am outside the hotel. I got there a little early and started handing out leaflets, she arrived and went upstairs and asked for her money back, which by all accounts was an "okay, fair enough," affair, so at least she was happy, and went on her merry way.



I continued to hand out leaflets until, the photographer appeared again and started at me, not asking me to leave but bringing up the child abuse issue again, trying to scare me off. I followed him into the lobby and shouted after him, the accusations that I had read on the internet and viewed in the video clips from the BBC, he disappeared into the hotel and I was asked to leave by the Matra-Dee. Fair enough, I thought, I can still warn people as they are coming in, I handed out some leaflets and was asked by some people how I knew all this, I said it was all over the internet, the BBC had been doing investigations into it and a big warning about this scam had been around for years.


This is the leaflet I was handing out, carefully edited by Rachel, who advised me about inflammatory comments I made on it.



I was constantly being hassled on the street by the same lady who had escorted me out yesterday, she was also taunting me about my weight, size, 'working crassness', appearance etc, as well as the puedo stuff.

At one point I used the f word, "Why I am back? People need to know about this scam, it’s not that I wasn’t selected it’s just that you called me a f-ing pedophile." I knew I was raising my voice but not to the extent that people could hear me behind the glass windows of the Lobby. At this point she looked a bit queezy and went into the hotel again.

She then told me that the police where on their way and tried to stop me from handing out my leaflets, by telling the punters not to believe a word I said, it wasn’t true and they could go upstairs and go though the process. By this time some of the people that I warned now where filtering out, most thanked me for my help and even one of them hung around and protected me from the torrent of abuse I was getting from the orange faced promotion girl.

Then the orange faced promotional girl, told me that the police where on their way and they were going to get me, ha ha, in those words. At this point I wished that it was Summer, if this were the case a fly might have landed on her face and slowly sink into the layers of make up that was plastered all over her face, poor fly. I also noticed that she had a line on her right cheek, could this be plastic surgery or merely where someone had slashed her once, who can tell, I didn't really want to get that close.

I just said, Bring it on.

I saw them coming, blue lights flashing, sirens, just like the Bill. I counted them, One Two, Three and oh no, Four Panda Cars, pulled up outside the hotel.

They all got out, two approached the now greif strickened Oranage lass, who was nearly crying.

Crocodile tears, even I can do that, but prefer not to.

So I explained what had gone on, why I was there, they agreed I had a right under the freedom of speech act to do what I was doing, they checked to see if I had any previous, which I don’t and we all agreed the best thing for me to do was move along, so I did, the officer also advised me that If I wanted to I could always go to somewhere away from the hotel to hand out my leaflets but also said that the police could only sort out criminal issues, not moral ones, so I let it drop.

Maybe not the best way to spend a Sunday morning but at least from all the thanks I got from mothers, at least I changed things for the better for a few.

But at the end of the day, it's not just about gullible people getting ripped off, it's also about the general attitudes to all agencies whether it be talent or temping, there must be some way of only registering with one if they have work for you, instead of making you sign up to false promises.

10 comments:

jonathan goldstein said...

Good for you for fighting back. Arghhhh. I hate scammers. I was scammed once too---different schtick but a scam is a scam.

The Faux Press said...

Paul, you actually have a great look for a background extra.

Here's the deal: work directly with extras casting agents. Check the phone book yellow pages. Check with your actors guild (whatever that is in England) - though you will be working as a non-union extra at first - and ask them, "Who's the best extras casting agent around?" Finally, check the credits on TV and films for names of extras casting folks.

Any photo (almost) will do. Send it along with a letter to the casting agencies and I'll bet with a few follow-up calls to the agencies, you'll get work.

All that said, and I understand your interest - here's my take on what it means to be a background extra.

Bon chance!

hermit@irishhermit.com said...

Good for you Paul! At the least you may have saved a few people from wasting their hard earned money on this scam.

If you do it again call the television news folks and tell them you are going to protest. Nothing makes the cockroaches scatter like the light of publicity.

All the best,
Tom

Phil "dm" Campbell said...

You have just found your calling man. This is what you should do! - vlog it, cover it. i think you can do this really well. great post.

Maurice said...

Incredible story ! You did it right !

Anonymous said...

i couldn't believe when i heard on the radio yesterday that it was all a scam as i went to one of the auditions (Hull) but my mum and dad told me that they were'nt paying a heap load of money for it. i think the leaflets you made are great! good job!
P.S. i am only a teenager who wanted somwhere to kick off an acting career

Anonymous said...

Hey Paul,

I'm glad u have done this.....trying 2 protect innocent people there's no shame in that!! I wish u had been outside the hotel I went 2. The sick thing about it, is that it was actually my 9yr old son's money that was stolen!! He wanted 2 go so badly that he used some of his savings! There is 1 upside to this story though, we only gave £100 upfront but have a receipt saying we paid £189 hahaha. West 1 keep writing 2 me telling me they will pass my case onto a solicitor. I say 'BRING IT ON'. I'm getting my own solicitor and I will not be payin 1 more penny but I will be getting that dvd of photos. My niece got some done and the quality of the photos is really quite crap, not very professional looking some were even blurred!!! Keep up the good work Paul

Anonymous said...

That orange-faced cow that's in ur pics is the same 1 that saw me and my son and niece....which just goes 2 prove that these scammers are exactly the same people travelling up and down the country!!! I'm gonna gather up a load of info off the net and go to my local hotel with it. Because they visit the same hotels at least once a year. If I can get 2 the hotel b4 West 1 can book with them then perhaps they'll turn them away ;-)

Da man said...

hi, thanks for the wonderful comments Anonymous, please don't hesitate to contact me I would love to know where you are, so I could come down and hand out leaflets again with you, if that's possible.

pjkproductions@gmail.com

Sammi said...

Hi, I was actually scammed 2 years ago. I signed up and paid for it like a mug. This was 2 years ago. I never heard anything back from Hidden Talent and went on the website 2day for the first time in over a year to change some things.
Guess what?
Yep, it no longer exists.
Hidden Talent promise you they will keep you on their books for 3 years. well, it's been 2 and they no longer exist.
I feel like a fool.
I come from Southampton and they also use the same hotel each time.
Think it's time they got put down!