The Toronto film and television industry is rallying to help actors who have been scammed by a shady talent agency – blogTO | Episode Movies

While being an artist is rewarding, exciting, and even glamorous at times, it can come with a lot of stress, especially in the financial stability department.

So unless they’re megastars or independently wealthy, most full-time professional actors rely on the payments they receive from gigs to survive. Like everyone else, they deserve and must be paid on time for their work.

The agencies are supposed to ensure this by collecting funds from whoever is producing the film and (after a predetermined cut) passing those funds on to clients.

A now-defunct Toronto agency has come under fire in recent months for failing to do that job — or rather, half of it.

About 60 different actors say that Compass Artist Management collectively owes them about $500,000. Some individuals are up to $50,000 on their way.

Many of these actors have shared their personal stories with local media in hopes of breaking the news and getting some sort of justice after their finances and, in some cases, their lives were ruined.

It worked; The Toronto Police Service launched an investigation into Compass after the company abruptly announced its closure, and police have reportedly received about 50 separate complaints against the former agency since this week for withholding funds from clients.

Agency director Daniel Philip Friedman responded to the allegations in a statement to The Toronto Star in late October, noting that he had done nothing “with bad intentions.”

I couldn’t feel worse or more genuinely sorry and sorry for how this has affected people. I hope people will believe that I did everything I could to solve the problem before it got to this point,” he said at the time. “I also want people to know that I’m not sitting on money, fortune, secret houses in the Bahamas, etc.”

Compass, which launched just two years ago, was described by The Star in this article as “one of the most prolific agencies in town, with a large roster of artists and a team of agents well respected in the industry.”

So what happened?

The people who are collectively owed about half a million dollars would like to know, as would the police, and things aren’t looking good for the now-closed agency.

But even with an ongoing Compass investigation, the actors are unlikely to be getting much back in return any time soon (unless Friedman somehow finds the money and pays off all his debts). compass suffer.

Not only are many artists owed tens of thousands of dollars in back payments, but they have also been left without talent representation.

Immerse yourself in the friendliness of Toronto’s creative community.

Ali Momen, an actor who wasn’t represented by Compass but has many friends who were, decided to launch a GoFundMe campaign for those affected by the scandal.

“Artistic work is work. Behind the bright lights and glam are 15-hour days and immense personal and family sacrifices. Many of these clients are owed the equivalent of a year’s work after spending months auditioning for jobs while unemployed or employed in other jobs to stay ahead for lean times,” the campaign reads titled “Supporting Victims of Compass Artist Management”. .

“This situation is dire because the money may not be able to be made up elsewhere and the cast counted on that money for mortgages, child care, rent, retirement and many other expenses.”

With a total goal of $150,000, the campaign had raised nearly $22,000 as of Wednesday night.

According to Momen, those funds will be used to pay for legal fees and to repay the artists for their debts. Should the total amount be greater than what is owed to the actors, the remaining funds will go to charity.

Some pretty generous donations have come in recently, including $1,000 from HighballTV, a film festival streaming service.

“HighballTV expects the companies, agencies and unions in this industry to act in the best interests of the artists we employ and we refuse to stand by if the money we pay them for their work is being used by criminal middlemen is stolen instead of going to the artist himself,” reads a comment from the donor.

“We will work to help these artists get the justice they deserve.”

Says Momen, “This disaster could have happened to any of us…Some of these victims are my friends and I know their stories, but by starting this GoFundMe, I’ve heard the stories of other Compass customers, and every story breaks my heart.”

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