Many of you would have seen the story that Campbell Live ran last Friday about Tay Lee, the young student who booked a job through August Models some two years ago, and never received payment. Despite calling, emailing and stopping by the office multiple times, Lee says the $300 remained unpaid. But that $300 is just a drop in the ocean, according to industry insiders. I’ve been contacted by three models in the past 10 days: Two internationals who were placed with August in 2009 and 2010 are both owed upwards of $4000 each, despite their respective agencies repeatedly attempting to get the money; and another model, based in Australia, is owed $2000. Bookers from other agencies – while quick to say that it’s an incredibly hard market out there – have denounced August’s actions as making the entire industry look unprofessional.
Late last year, August was fined $10,000 by the Department of Labour for failing to pay an actor who worked as an extra on Shortland Street. The amount owing? $258. According to Linda Wilson of the Department of Labour, “Unfortunately August Models and Talent Limited failed to show up to two Employment Relations Authority hearings, and a subsequent Employment Court hearing… What was a relatively small amount to be paid in outstanding wages has become a significant cost because the company failed to comply with minimum employment rights and failed to turn up to hearings.”
And just last week, August settled a liquidation application with Owen Anderson, a 53 year old actor who was never paid his fee for a TV commercial booked by the agency. According to sources, the amount owing was less than $5000.
UPDATE: August Models and Talent ceased trading as of last week, and the agency will soon be relaunched as Kimberley Hill Management. According to the former director, attempts are being made to wind the company down in “the most responsible way,” and the matter is now in the hands of lawyers and accountants.
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