Dear Ms. Bubbette: Casting director workshops - to do or not Allen Larson casts local teens What value showcases/expos with LA 'scouts'
by Ms. Bubbette
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
I was wondering, how a casting director can put on a workshop and charge high dollar and still stay unbiased during a casting session. I shall not name names, cause I wanna keep working, but it just does not seem fair to not pay 350 bucks or so to a well know CD for a couple days workshop and then get a call for from to agent to audition for that very same CD. How do they get
away with it? We are always warned to stay away from shelling out money for jobs and other scams, but it seems these CD's have got a pretty good racket going. The acting jobs (even the good ones) in Texas do not pay that much and these weekend workshops cost more than the jobs pay. It seems if you wanna get on their good side, you gotta take the workshops and such, so they will cast you in the commercial, or MOW or what ever little Texas has to offer at the time.
Very Anonymous working Actor Guy
Dear Very Anonymous Working Actor Guy,
This is a loaded question which I will answer in sections.
First of all most casting directors that I have worked with or auditioned for have started at the bottom of the totem pole as an actor - just like you and me. Some then became talent agents to learn the trade more deeply before becoming casting directors. That position carries a great deal of weight and a casting director will grow in stature depending on his/her experience in all facets of this business.
When you take a class, seminar, weekend workshop from a well-established casting director, you are benefiting from their wealth of experience in the auditioning process. And they are benefiting from seeing what you, as an actor, are capable of doing. When you get an audition through your agent for that particular CD, it is because that CD asked for you. When they break down the movie script characters, they then go through hundreds of headshots/resumes before requesting certain actors for an audition. Your agent didn't just happen to send you. You were requested. Get it? Now if that CD hadn't seen any of your work (through a hot demo reel for instance) how would they know what you were capable of? Being in their class gives them hands-on knowledge of your skills. CD's do not call you personally ( as a rule) as they are too busy working with the directors and producers. That is why we have a talent agent - as a go-between. Sometimes a CD will see an unknown actor because of a talent agency's recommendation but that is not usually the norm. You see, the CD's reputation is on the line if unskilled actors end up on that audition tape which is seen later by the director. They can't waste the director's time with untrained actors auditioning. That is why they have taken on the task of teaching classes - to help knock us into shape - make us worthy of auditioning.
As for paying $350 for a weekend, I do find that over-priced. I have taken many workshops from reputable Texas (and elsewhere) CD's and never paid that kind of price. If you have serious doubts about high costs of a class, ask an established actor for their opinion - it's your choice whether you want to shell out the big bucks. Reputable CD's are not out to fleece the actor. They want to build a file of promising, talented people they can call on. Actors who are dedicated enough to work with them. If you look good it makes them look good. The cost has to cover hotel rooms, scripts, sometimes lunch, a camera operator, traveling time, hours of pre-preparation. I can't stress enough the importance of having a good demo reel once you've landed 'real' roles. Then send every CD in Texas a copy. Send them out of TX too. I have seen CD's turn to demo reels to check on an actor - most will look at them and then keep them on a reference shelf. And believe me, if you are really, really talented, the casting directors will find you!
One last word - seminars with Casting directors from other states - like California - are less likely to result in an audition request as they prefer to stick with 'local hire'. Classes with established out-of-state acting coaches, however, e.g. Stanley Zareff from NY, are worth their weight in gold.
Read the next letter for more thoughts on this subject.
May you keep on being a "working actor guy"
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
Thank you for your response to my note last May, I didn't mean to step on Austin toes by calling it a smaller market, but compared to Los Angeles..everywhere is a smaller market. I've visited Austin twice since my last note and have had wonderful experiences there. You are correct on two counts, the child actors in Austin are amazing and traveling casting director coaches are not the best alternative to a budding actor. I also agree that if showcasing is your mission it should indeed be with the casting that can bring you in, in other words, a local casting director. There are, however, some very talented coaches that host weekend workshops that can give a new perspective to aid in the growth of an actor, but it should be for the purpose of learning, not showcasing. Although, a weekend workshop should never replace a solid ongoing class.
I wanted to send out congratulations to the makers of "Pendulum" for getting their distribution deal, a very good thing for the local indie film scene. I would also like to thank the Austin coaches for a job well done, on my last trip I found 10 teens and preteens that I'll be working with here in L.A. in about a year from now. Don't say it doesn't happen, it just did. But be clear, these kids have been working on their craft for years and are truly at a professional level. Keep up the good work Ms. Bubbette.
All the best,
Prodigy Management Inc.
Good to hear from you again and know that your Texas search for teenage and preteen talent was fruitful and that these talented kids will have the chance to work with you in L.A. (Readers can go back in Ms. Bubbette's archives and read Mr. Larson's letter and my reply, last May)
Having coached young actors for many years, I know Austin especially, has some delightful young actors. Unfortunately though, unless they continue in regular acting classes or have private coaching, they rarely reach the standard of the LA kids who are born and bred into the acting world.
I'm sure all those involved in 'Pendulum' will appreciate your congratulations on their distribution deal. And thank you for the kind words for 'Ms. Bubbette'. Everyone loves a little praise now and then!
Good luck with your project and keep us posted on its development.
What is your opinion regarding acting Expo's or showcases held in Texas? They advertise big name casting agents and agency representatives come and judge cold reads, monologues and headshot photographs of beginners for possible consideration to join there agencies. Is it a shot in the dark or is there a mere glimmer of possibility that I'll be discovered and be invited to join the LA ranks?
Headin to LA
Dear Headin to LA,
If you read the two previous letters and answers, most of your questions have been answered.
Think about this. Almost every waiter/waitress/barman in LA is an actor waiting to be discovered. Maybe half the kids on the street dream of seeing their name on the screen. Add up the numbers of potential actors in LA and you'd be hitting the hundreds of thousands. Serious actors line up just to be an extra in a soap opera.
Ask yourself, why would casting directors or 'agency representatives' come all this way to judge you in a showcase skit when all those LA 'local hire' actors are on their doorstep?? If you are paying money for the ' privilege' then my guess would be, that's what they come for. $$$ in their off-season! One young actor I know was told they would put him in a couple of soaps. And they did - as an extra with no face, no credit and a two day hotel bill to pay plus return airfare. Beware!
Local showcases for TX casting directors, talent agencies and theatre directors can be beneficial to the actor and many end up being cast in worthwhile shows.
Now I'll repeat myself by saying, if you are super talented then you might have a chance to be invited out to LA. Mr. Larson (letter above) found what he was looking for here. It does happen.
So keep that glimmer of hope, that excitement of being an actor - but please, weigh the pros and cons very carefully.
May you be 'discovered.'