[quote=“Aurora01”]1. Keep your options open: Compare different agencies. If possible work with more than one. Usually each agency has its own clients; with more than one agency you will have more opportunities. Don’t sign exclusive contract at least you get benefits that otherwise you won’t get, for example guarantee incomes.
Contract: read and understand before sign. Keep a copy of your contract (!).
Work permit: Don’t work without work permit or you may get deported. The government is paying a bonus (in cash) to the agency who reports illegal workers and restricting the rights to apply for work permits to the agencies who hire foreigners without proper documentation. It motivates competing agencies to report each other.
Working hours: it is illegal to work more than 12 hours a day. You and your employer may get fined.
Payment: Usually you get paid per hour(s). Generally speaking print-ads are better paid than TV commercials, which are better paid than internet commercials. If the videos or photos are released in more than one country, your incomes should increase, also if it airs more than a year. According with Toe 40% is the standard commission fee, so you should get 60% of the contract; make sure you get the right amount. I suggest extras to don’t work for less than 500nt per hour; support characters and main characters should charge more.
Pay-day: Collect your money within 30 days. It is illegal to delay the payment more than 30 days. You can report it to the Department of Labor.
Tax: Your tax rate depends on your residency status. Ask if your agency is paying your tax. You may be eligible for tax refund.
Agency dilemma: Ask your agency to be transparent and share the information with you. Sometimes agencies care more about their self than about the talents career. Example: recently a client had to deal with an agency who threatened not to send the main character to the shoot if the client didn’t choose the extras from that agency; it was a gambling strategy than increased company’s benefits by risking main character’s job.
Agencies war: For clients and talents it’s good to have more options but it is annoying to be in the middle of their fights. Work with the agencies that offer you better benefits and listen what they want to say but don’t take any position. It will save you troubles.
Ask: if you have question or something is not clear ask(!). People with some experience like Toe, the agents, me or your friends can guide you and tell you where to find the information, but with important subjects it is best you check yourself with the government as landshark suggests.[/quote]
I think that you heart is in the right place with much of what you say but, unfortunately, is not based on the reality of the business in Taiwan. I think that you should compare agencies and be realistic with where you want to take modeling/talent work. If you only think you are only going to do background work here or there and you are just doing it for a laugh and don’t care where your image is used then you might not care about a contract. Again, please refer to the risks one can face.
Your first point surprises me that you are telling people not to sign an exclusive contract. I think you must be talking about the people that I mentioned above; those just interested in background/extra work. For the people that want to take this type of work at least a bit serious then a exclusive contract is a good way to go. The idea that more agencies mean more opportunities is what small agencies or freelance agents try to convince people of in hope that they won’t lose people to stronger, bigger agencies.
Around the world, agencies work with models/talent exclusively and Taiwan is no different. Clients cast from the big agencies because they know it makes their job easier because there is a larger selection and these agencies have the stronger talent/models. Also, from the talents/models side why would anyone help you build up you portfolio or help develop you as a talent or model if you could be off working with another agent tomorrow.
In your third point I am not sure if it is just a case of your point getting lost in translation but it seems contradictory that you are telling people to make sure that you have work permits then you state “(The government is )…restricting the rights to apply for work permits to the agencies who hire foreigners without proper documentation.”The government is not “restricting” the rights of anyone, work permits are just part of the laws that are set up that everyone has to follow.
It is also important to know your status. If you are a student, you can still work. You can apply for an ARC through the school or if you have modeling or talent experience from home you might be able to get a work permit through some agencies unless you have certain scholarships. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can sign a volunteer contract to do a job to gain work experience. There is an agency that recently told a student with a scholarship that if she signed a volunteer contract that she could still work. THIS IS A LIE! I talked to the Labor Department for her and found out there is no way you can get a work permit as a volunteer in TV Commercial work. She could have lost her scholarship or even worse, she could have been kicked out of Taiwan. Also you should always get paid for TV commercial work. If someone tells you you need to do a job for free before you can get a paid job they are ripping you off because I can guarantee that they are getting paid and they are also taking your percentage. Even if you want to do an independent film or any other type of job for free you still need a work permit. So be careful.
As far as point number five, “Generally speaking print-ads are better paid than TV commercials”. I am not really sure where you got that idea from? Yes, if you are doing only background work you could be paid less than print work but for main and secondary characters you will almost always get paid better appearing in Taiwanese television commercials. This is true for both foreigners living in Taiwan doing talent work and overseas models. Print work is also usually much harder work. Overseas models are always anxious to get TV commercials because it can be a huge boost to their invoice.
I see point eight and nine as part of the same problem. There is an agency that got its start doing kids catalog work, and now they are trying to break into the adult TV commercial market. They have been using very questionable tactics trying to do whatever it takes to get established in the market.
There is a set procedure where the clients will ask an agency to send photos of a certain type of talent/model. The standard rule is if an agency has sent in someone’s photo they’re the agency that gets to represent that talent for the job. The agency that I am talking about above has been driving talent to castings even after they have been promoted by another agency. Even after the client said they want to work with the agency that originally promoted the talent, this rogue agency demanded that they use their agency. This is a very tight market and this has been an added headache for the clients. and risks the client not wanting to work with the talent in the future. Of course all of this is another reason why clients prefer working with talent/models with exclusive contracts because then this avoidable headache only occurs with freelance talent/models.
Number ten is the best advice of all: ask people questions, especially about technicalities. Call the Labor Department if you don’t understand. Ask to see the work permit before the job. They are always issued before the job.
All and all a good job Aurora! Most of your post is spot on, I just wanted to make sure that certain areas that were a little off were addressed. I just wanted to make sure that this important message that you are trying to get our there is all correct. Keep up the good work Aurora.