There are a LOT of industry scams preying on people hoping for a career in film and television. They’ve been going around for years, but they’ve been particularly prevalent in 2017.
The worst part? The scammers use the names of REAL industry professionals. Remember, the people listed here aren’t the actual scammers, they are victims, too.
**Current imposter name list as of October 2017:
- Johann Martinez
- Matthew Schwartz
- Clement Cheung (Mei Ah Entertainment)
- Chris Galipo
- Gabriel Tyner
- Matthew Bates (Emblem Entertainment)
- Grant Bell
- Brandon Taylor
- Alan Parker
- Scammers will pose as a real company or production person, and will direct you to a legit website. Their e-mail address never has the same domain as the legit web address; a letter may be omitted or added.
- If a company offers direct deposit, you will receive a form in person on your start date; it will never be requested in advance via email.
- NEVER accept advance checks from companies you’ve applied to online. If they want you to pay for anything in advance, ask them to call ahead and put it on their credit card.
- If something seems off, it probably is.
How does the scam work?
It begins with an innocuous text message, “Hi, I found your information on *Enter Film Crew Directory Here* and think you’d be a great fit, please send me your resume”. They’ll offer you a strange rate and maybe give a few other bizarre details.
You e-mail your resume, and then you get a length reply (see below). It can be for any number of positions beyond production assistant — there’s been reports of the scam offering a position as an editor, boom operator, makeup artist, screenwriter, or camera op.
How the scam actually works: After applying (the application requires you submit your mailing address), you will receive a check within 2-3 business days for around $3,000. The scammer will ask that you deposit this check in your bank account and use the money to make some sort of dubious $500-$1000 purchase. What actually happens? The scammer voids the check, and you’re on the hook for the $500-$1000 purchase.
How to tell it’s a scam: Grammatical and spelling errors. There’s also an over explanation of expectations and job descriptions. After personally being a freelance hire for ten years, in my past experience, all details are discussed in person or over the phone. With these scams, though, there’s a lack of any sort of personal connection that is very unusual. Any real industry professional is going to want to talk to you on the phone to ensure you’re competent. **UPDATE: As of September 2017, some particularly bold scammers will actually speak to you on the phone.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a production scam, alert your bank immediately.
How the scammer finds victims
The scam started on Craigslist, but unfortunately, the scammers also now prowl job boards and sites where freelancers usually find work. Examples may include Mandy.com, ziprecruiter.com, film industry crew lists (including on state and local film commission websites), or productionbeast.com.
Text of the “Johann Martinez”, “Matthew Schwartz”, “Clement Cheung” Scam:
My name is Johann Martinez (Matthew Schwartz, Clement Cheung) am a Editor and Composer with a background in fiction, poetry, classical music, jazz, and painting.I also combine the powers of music and imagery to deliver the most honest, raw, and powerful emotions in films. I tend not to seek out awards, because I believe our work speaks for itself; however, our clients have entered our films and won many awards.
For me, life is about finding passions, pursuing dreams and connecting with people.
I really feel I need some assistance at this time that’s why I need someone who can work with me hand in hand throughout the production period. We are presently working on a short film which I’m directing the production aspect, although work hasn’t commenced and we should start working on the film in next 15 days.
As a Production Assistant at Johann Martinez studio,you will work closely with me throughout the production process, Your duties basically would be;
To do this role, you will need to:
=Assisting a photographer in all aspects of their work.
=Doing whatever is necessary to ensure that a photographic shoot runs smoothly.
=Assisting in everything from administration, to the shoot, to scouting locations.
=Be willing to learn.
=Be organized and practical.
=Understand how to operate digital and traditional cameras, and scanning equipment.
=Anticipate the needs of the photographer.
=Have excellent communication skills.
=Be able to foresee and evaluate potential problems, and deal with them calmly.
=Be skilled in image-manipulation and image-management software.
=Possess good office skills.
=Pay close attention to detail.
Before our HR department reviewed your resume and gave their report I decided to consider you among the three applicants that will be on probation before i finally pick the right person as the Assistant to carry out some activities on my behalf.you need to be very honest because sometimes my personal or corporate items such as financial instruments or non financial items can be with you. In conclusion I’m looking for someone that can be trusted and reliable to work very well and with good understanding and i believe you posses those qualities.I have decided to offer you a probationary offer (Trial Period). Here i want to see how you will demonstrate your skills and how exceptional you are and how efficient and on time you will be. I will need you to perform a couple of tasks for me during this week, which are part of basic duties you will be performing when fully employed by me. Successful completion of the trial period qualifies you for an Oral interview,you will paid during the trial and temporary weekly wage for the trial period will be Three Hundred and Ten Dollars.($310)
Job Salary and Hours Schedule When fully Employed after the trial period is as follow:
Available Position: Production Assistant Position
Type: Part-Time(It may lead to Full Time depend on your active and passion for the job)
Hours: 9 Hours per week
Days: 3 days per week [ Each day 3 hours ]
Weekly Pay: $600.30
• AD & D Insurance
• Medical, Dental, Vision
Willing to take this job position, reconfirm your information. I will have my financial adviser have payment for these purchases and tasks, mailed to you. The trial period runs for a week or two. If you want to sign up for this, Kindly provide the details below …
Your Full name ;
Mailing Address ;
City, State, Zip Code :
Mobile Phone Number :
Two Work or Personal References ;
The “Johann Martinez” Editor Scam:
About My Production:
johannmartinez is a digital media strategist, Moving Picture Producer, Video Editor, Photographer, Videographer, Video Artist, Interactive Designer & Illustrator. Also i specialize in landscape and night-sky photography, motion-controlled time-lapse, and creative dSLR film-making. I also hold private and group workshops and classes, as I love to teach other people how to achieve their creative Editor.
site info: johannmartinez.com
I really feel I need some assistance at this time that’s why I need someone who can work with me hand in hand throughout the production period. We are presently working on a short film which I’m directing the production aspect, although work hasn’t commenced and we should start working on the film in next 3 weeks.
As the Editor , You will assists the film director by establishing the visual look of the movie.
You will work closely with me and other crew throughout the production process, Duties basically would be
. Have a good aptitude for technology
. assembling all raw footage, with camera shots either recorded or transferred onto video tape in preparation for inputting into the computer
. Supporting the whole of the post production process on feature films and working closely with film labs, and with the camera and sound departments
. Be able to react quickly and precisely
. digitally cutting the files to put together the sequence of the film and deciding what is usable
. creating a ‘rough cut’ (or assembly edit) of the programme/film and determining the exact cutting for the next and final stages
. reordering and fine-tuning the content to ensure the logical sequencing and smooth running of the film/video.
Additional tasks may include:
. overseeing the quality and progress of audio and video engineering and editing;
. Taking responsibility for the smooth running of the cutting room on feature films
. writing voiceover/commentary;
. suggesting or selecting music.
You may also carry out online editing duties, which involve finalising technical aspects such as correcting faulty footage, grading and colouring and adding special effects.
Your present job doesn’t affect the Status of the job because i need to place you on trial period i need someone who can perform his or her duties with resourceful and proactive in dealing with problems and queries, All i need you to do is to complete all task in a timely manner. I am being thorough and explanatory here because i have hired people in the past who did not live up to what i expected and this time, i do not want to make the same mistake. I have decided to offer you a probationary offer (trial period). Here i want to see how you would demonstrate your skills and how exceptional you are and how efficient and on time you will be. I will need you to perform a couple of tasks for me during this coming week, which are part of basic duties you will be performing before the project fully start and if i am impressed and convinced that you are right for the job, I will be setting up a meeting with you once am done with this shooting am presently working on. Successful completion of the trial period qualifies you for an interview and Temporary weekly wage for the trial period will be Eight Hundred And Thirty Dollars/weekly and full employment details and permanent salary package + bonuses will be discussed in our meetings.
If the above work with you, I will take all necessary step and make my financial adviser have payment for these purchases and tasks, mailed to you. The trial period runs for a week or two. If you want to sign up for this, Kindly provide the details below …
Available Position: Editor
Hours: 9 Hours per week/3 Hours Daily
Days: 3 days per week
Weekly Pay: $830
• AD & D Insurance
• Medical, Dental, Vision
Willing to take this job position, I will take necessary step to have my financial officer have payment for the purchase and allowance to carryout the task, mailed to you. The trial period runs for a week or two. If you want to sign up for this, Kindly provide the details below …
Your Full name :
Mailing Address :
Zip Code :
Direct Phone# :
Two Work or Personal References:
. . . .