Martin writes in:
I was wondering if you had ever heard of Booking Agents for PA’s. I found a job posting through a networking group on Facebook for a two-day PA gig which pays the normal rate. The contact person sent me an email stating this
“Thank you for your submission. I would like to bring you to the team. My company is a training and booking service non-exclusively, and therefore my fee is 15% of work I book you directly, and rehires. If you are interested in receiving additional work from me, please sign this independent contract agreement and fill out the contact sheet.”
I’m still very green in the industry and have never come across this before. Is this a scam or are booking agents for gigs a legitimate thing. The company is called Vegas PA’s, maybe you’ve heard of them before.
That is… bizarre.
No, I’ve never heard of a booking agent for production assistants at all, much less these guys. Granted, I’m based in Los Angeles, so that could be why I’ve never heard of a Las Vegas-based company. But I’m skeptical.
In simplest terms, the way an agency works is, they get you a job, and take a percentage of your paycheck for said job. This only makes sense for the client if the agent has better connections for gigs than they themselves do.1
Conversely, this only makes sense for the agent if 15% of the paycheck is worth the time and energy. A commission on Tom Cruise’s salary is more money than I’ve ever seen. Commission on a PA’s rate is less impressive.
And this is why I’m skeptical. Anytime I can’t figure out how someone is making money, I assume it must be a scam. Even if I don’t know what the scam is, I back away slowly, because clearly this person has thought it out more thoroughly than I have.
Now, it’s entirely possible Vegas PAs are on the level. It might be so difficult to find qualified production assistants in Las Vegas, that every production turns to them for their staffing needs.
It certainly wouldn’t be a viable business model in L.A. The only thing easier to find that PAs willing to work hard for little money is actors who are willing to do the same.2 An agency devoted to PAs wouldn’t be able to control the market. As an APOC or production secretary, I’d find Mandy or Craigslist (or even this very site) much less of a hassle.
Back to Martin’s question, I’d suggest reading the contract very closely. If they help you find work, that’s great! 85% of a PA paycheck is better than 0%, if you can’t land a gig on your own.
Just make sure you don’t pay anything upfront, first. That’s definitely a scam.