Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Casting Directors: Part 1 - C.D. Workshops
This posting is going to get me in trouble...yet again!
First, a much-needed clarification...
Casting Director: a casting director is hired by a studio or production company to audition actors and select some to audition for the director and or producers. They are paid to be knowledgeable about the talent pool in their area.
Casting Agent: to the best of my knowledge, there is not now nor has there ever been, any legitimate job in the entertainment industry known as a “casting agent” (although I have heard it used in many scams and by many neophytes trying to sound knowledgeable). When people use this term, their ignorance is showing as they’re probably referring to a casting director or possibly an agent. On rare occasions you may find an agent who has an exclusive deal with an advertising agency to cast a commercial, too. If you do, you can call them a Casting Agent, if you really want to...
And now, Casting Director workshops:
It has become very popular in the last ten years for casting directors to “teach” auditioning “classes”. Actors usually take these “classes” taught by casting directors not to learn but to, in effect, audition for that casting director. Are you taking the class because you genuinely want to learn or to "be seen" and brought back to audition for them? Only you know the truth. If the CD has some training/experience/knowledge to pass on, then great! But, many don't. Some of these “classes” actually advertise that actors should bring pictures and resumes to be considered for roles on the show that this casting director is casting (although this is against SAG rules).
This type of behavior on the part of some casting directors is truly disgraceful and, in fact, illegal. Let's be honest, are they really doing it to teach you something or to take your money in exchange for some face-time because they know you're hoping to be considered for an acting job? Ok, since we're being honest, how many casting directors do you know who have EVER taken even ONE acting class or been paid to work for even one minute on set, in their life? If you are living outside of L.A. or N.Y. the answer is probably "None". Even in those two cities, the only qualification you need to have, in order to work as a casting director, is the ability to make appointments and do paperwork (although to be a good casting director you also need to be able to recognize good acting). I'm assuming that you have trained and perhaps worked on set. I promise you that if you've taken even one acting class, you've trained more than the vast majority of casting directors. So what are they really able to "teach" you?! Their job is to find talent, not to create it!
The other reason that I don’t recommend that actors take these “classes” is because I believe that it makes actors look desperate – who wants to hire an actor that has to pay to audition? Yes, sure, occasionally people actually do get work from these “classes” for the simple reason that actors talk and pretty soon everybody knows that so-and-so got hired after doing one of these classes. So more actors show up for the next one. These jobs are always minor day-playing roles. But do you really think that when a casting director needs to find a good actor for a role, that they are going to think of the actors that have to pay to audition for them or are they going to go to the actors with just a bit more self-respect...?
An actor with self-respect...now there's a concept!
More on auditioning for casting directors next time, in Part 2...