P’Non on the Agency Fee

P’non wrote this about how an agency fee of 30% in Thailand came about in the 1980s. Back then it made sense. Today much less so.

Non Jungmeier, June 10, 2012

30% 30% 30% 30% 

Non Jungmeier – Thai Casting Director 
Hi, I’d like to share a first hand experienced story of 30% agency fee in Thailand: How it came to existence. (Please be patient with my clumsy English)
I worked at Siam Studio Production between 1985 – 1988, it was the biggest local TVC production company at that time.

As most Thais, bad habits, I do not remember the exact year this incident had happened, but I remember the day well, and I had rechecked with the director who ran the meeting that day to assure that my memory is accurate, so, this was how it happened.

Our production house had a lot of troubles dealing with modeling agencies, sometimes talents complained they didn’t get money, sometimes they said they got very little while we were sure we paid the fair rate. There was no standard at that time about how much percentage agents can take from talents as agency fee. So the company’s management had required all talent agencies working with us to come to a meeting to set up a standard agency fee. You have to imagine how it was to shoot a TVC in the 80’s. No mobile phone, no internet, not many people had home phone, even.
So when Pi Pon (a professional TVC director now, head department of ADs at Siam Studio then) raised the number 20% as a fare share for agencies, Pi Moo (founder of CD Modeling, the biggest one working with us at that time, don’t know if he’s still in business) had explained that the expense to run an agency was very high, you needed to drive to talents’ home most of the time to find them and communicate with them, 20% will be the end of his business.
We on the production side, and others on the agency side had discussed back and forth, and finally agreed to 30% as the maximum percentage. In the status of a big client, Siam Studio had the power to announce that if we had evidence of any agent charging more without talents consent, we’ll ban that agent. We also agreed that the agencies had the responsibility to deliver talents in time and assured their readiness to work at shooting.
Thus so it began! I eye-witnessed this meeting as a trainee in the AD department. (Yes, I am that old, oh well)
Cut to 2000’s – We have internet, mobile phones, whatsapp, msn, skype, facebook, craiglist, line, etc…. In my personal opinion, 30% just to make 1 phone call to an actor to come to casting is too much. (Pi Pon, the then-meeting director thinks the same)
But if you’re an actor and you have a trusted agent who can tell you all info in the industry, helps you negotiating with productions, gets you into all appropriated castings, fights for you when you get exploited, have your cv and info ready to send to clients whenever requested (not waiting a few precious days to be able to move), know your talents inside out……. I’d say it’s up to you what you think the service is worth.
So, when I deal with actors, I let them choose their representatives, it should be their own right and responsibility to give me the contact of the person that will speak for them, or they can also opt to speak for themselves. I also post all my jobs on facebook while I send emails to agents.
And as a casting director, I hate hearing agents mentioning “casting persons in Thailand corrupt”, please name the individuals and ban them.
If you say “Oh, I cannot do that, then I have no work….” Then it’s your choice and you’re a part of that corruption. Repeat YOU ARE A PART OF THAT CORRUPTION in that case.
When a Thai Agent referred that 30% is written in Thai law about agencies, I had gone through a huge law reading, there’s nowhere it’s written that legally is not more than 30%, the law is supposed to dictate real estate agents, and the rate is up to individual agreements.
The cake slice of the industry here is not that big, but it’d be nice to make it clean.
With all my best wishes, Non


Do you want to know how to become an actor / model in Thailand? Check out this video or this article How To Become an Actor in Thailand:

Do you want to learn more about me? Check out my website: http://www.robinschroeter.de

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