Well, it seems that when Gilla Roos closed, they left a lot of actors hanging out to dry. Just from the couple of people who have contacted us, we can calculate over $25,000 in losses, and there has got to be a lot more. These actors cannot afford to get stiffed.
What is the recourse when an agency goes belly up and owes you money? Unfortunately, not much, unless you are smart and move quickly. Some suggestions:
1. Don’t go it alone. One person owed $4,000 has a lot less clout than 60 people owed $4,000 each. Team up, and you have the best chance of getting paid. This is what is known as a class action lawsuit. Start searching Google for others who may have had the same thing happen; or, if that doesn't yield results, make posts in forums and on blogs so you CAN find these people. Someone has already started collecting people for the Gilla Roos situation, and you can contact her at GillaRoosAction@gmail.com. If you are owed money, you must reach out to every other actor who is owed money and team up. You may not see all of your money, but there is a chance you may see some.
2. Find your contract with dates worked and any and all correspondences. Anything in print is going to be better then he said/she said, and that will never hold up in court.
3. Don’t bug the agents. Usually they are owed money too when this happens. It is the owner of the company that is liable, and so they can be an ally. It won’t help to harass them.
4. If an agency owner knowingly took your money and bought a new car or enriched themselves in another way, it might be criminal depending on what state you are in (and ought to be, regardless). Talk to a lawyer and do a little research. There are state laws governing the operation of an agency and you should research if there are any laws that protect you in your state, and a threat to call the Better Business Bureau can yield results (read: landlords in NYC). Also, if the organization is a SAG franchise, you may be able to bring your grievance to SAG. If you feel money owed has been taken fraudulently, you should contact your state’s attorney general’s office (New York: www.oag.state.ny.us/contact.html California: www.ag.ca.gov/contact/index.php ) They may not take on the grievance, but if they do, look out!
All actors are affected when something like this happens, either directly or indirectly. Use this as an excuse to arm yourself with knowledge of the ins and outs of your industry. It’s your business, too.