Snake Oil Salesman: Someone who sells, promotes, or is a general proponent of some valueless or fraudulent cure, remedy, or solution.
It may be an antiquated phrase, but the process remains alive and well in the entertainment industry. While legal, the unscrupulous peddling of goods and services, promising grandiose results in exchange for funds, yielding little to no results is a common practice aimed at acting hopefuls.
The most “successful” of these scams targets proud parents with stars in their eyes. A wide net is cast over the radio, social media, print media, classified ads and sometimes TV commercials. These businesses often set-up booths at kid friendly events to collect prospective customer information.
Big network names are presented with claims of former enrollees having made it big on TV shows or movies. In most cases parents are asked for contact information to set up an “audition” time for their children. These blanket claims are fishing for a wide audience of hopeful parents and kids.
Classes, headshots and some mock audition exercise may very well be provided, but these services are at an outrageous mark-up that lead to nothing more than that singular experience and big charges.
New Mexico is very fortunate to have an abundance of qualified instructors, photographers and legitimate talent representation. The local film and performing arts communities are well established and full of seasoned filmmakers and actors. There is a process of training, experiences, auditioning and performing which starts and repeats to fuel a successful run as a working artist. A mass call with nameless entities has no place in that process.
While authentic instructors and resources are paid for their services, paying to be considered for work is the number one red flag of an acting scam. Studios seeking child actors for work, from background to leading roles, hire established casting directors to fill the bill at no cost to the talent, ever.
Train, volunteer, network and seek recommendations and advice from working actors and local resources. Use the hashtag #NMFilm on social media to connect with active industry people and organizations.
A list of a few verified local talent training programs is available here. Always, always get references or recommendations before investing your time and money in career training.