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Actors want all workshops

Acting is a tough profession, filled with more failure to obtain work than success. It’s difficult enough to find paying acting jobs, and even more difficult to find high paying acting work (certainly, without government interference with our ability to conduct business).

This is due in no small measure to limited access to casting directors, who are increasingly overworked and underpaid.

Being able to meet a casting director and perform for them is crucial to an actor’s success. This happens most often when called in for an audition – which happens most often when an actor has representation.

But what if you are agent-less? How do you attract the attention of a casting director who spends most of his or her time choosing potential audition participants from a pool of actors found on Breakdown Services, most whom have agents or managers?

It’s difficult at best, but, fortunately, there are other opportunities to meet casting directors: casting workshops.

These casting workshops usually consist of 20 or so actors, meeting in the evening or on the weekends, learning from a guest casting director (or assistant or associate) about how the process of casting works in their offices, and then receiving sides from that CD based on an examination of the actors’ headshots and resumes, rehearsing them for a few minutes, performing them for or with the casting person, getting valuable feedback and adjustments. The casting director usually makes notes on the individual actor’s headshots to remind them of their skill level and any interesting facets of the actor’s experience, and then keeping those headshots in a file at their offices for reference should a part come up that that actor might be right for.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work: a business person (the actor) meeting a customer (the casting person), displaying their wares and leaving behind a sample (the performance) and a business card (headshot and resume). And an actor should be like any other businessperson – they use any opportunity to meet their potential customer’s needs and, hopefully, fill them.

Whether or not the casting director volunteers unpaid for the evening, or is paid for his or her time (usually the princely sum of $150 or $200 for the evening, a fifth of what a bartender or waiter, common jobs for actors, can make at a popular bar or restaurant in an evening), both the casting director and actor should be free to enter into this arrangement, and casting workshop companies should be free to arrange for these workshops.

Likewise, organizations like the Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG), the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (AFTRA), The Actors’ Network and others should be free to arrange for meeting space, invite casting directors and actors alike to participate in free workshops.

Both free and paid workshops serve several purposes: to educate and inform actors as to the way the casting office and process works, and to educate and inform casting directors about the pool of potential actors available for current and future projects. There is nothing wrong with this process: it is our contention that far from being a paid audition, it is an amazing opportunity for both actor and casting director to discover each other and find success where none might have existed.

We believe that the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act, California AB1319, now currently state law, places all parties in an uncertain and unsafe position, greatly interferes with actors’ abilities to conduct themselves as any other business person wanting to market their services to potential customers, and hangs a Sword of Damocles over the heads of both casting personnel and casting workshop companies, placing their actions and viability in jeopardy. We believe overall that this Act abridges the First Amendment rights of both casting directors and actors.

We do believe that Paul Krekorian, the author of this Act, had his heart in the right place: to protect actors from the scam artists who take advantage of actors who have not educated themselves as to how the industry really works, and end up paying incredible sums of money to scam modeling agencies, fakers posing as managers and agents, con men and women who fill parents’ heads with dreams of stardom for their cute children. We join Mr. Krekorian in our condemnation of such organizations and their practices.

But we feel that AB 1318 throws the baby out with the bathwater: acting workshops are either free or reasonably priced, they provide much needed education as to how the industry really works, and they can make a star of those well skilled actors who, while previously unable to get the attention of an agent or casting director because they had no credits. There are no starry eyed dreamers in these workshops. The attendees are well aware that they are placing themselves in competition with other actors to stand out and excel at their work and potentially break in to a very difficult business.

The proof of this is in the pudding: the list of actors who have found success is long and lustrous. While the list of people who have not found success via workshops, paid or not, is far longer, it’s not the fact that some workshops charge to attend causes that failure. Rather it’s that success in show business is based on business acumen and talent, and no amount of workshop fee money can change that.

This website is designed to inform actors, CDs, workshop and networking companies and politicians of the chilling effects removing the freedom to choose between paid and/or unpaid casting workshops creates. We seek change in the law to affirm the right of all parties to engage in these casting workshops, and to remove the danger of violation of state law in doing so.

We will not cease our efforts until actors have the affirmative right to attend these workshops, casting directors have the right to teach at them, paid or not, and companies have the right to hold them.

Posted in Featured.


21 Responses

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  1. Esme says

    I’m an actor and I recently got called in for two guest starring roles which I booked. I would not have met the cd if I didn’t work in front of them at a casting director workshop. For me they have been wonderful.

    If some places run scams, that’s unfortunate and they deserve to be taken to task for committing a crime. But all the casting director workshops I’ve attended have been informative and helpful.

    Actors DO want workshops!

    Esme

  2. Barry says

    I’m not certain I understand. I have attended countless CD workshops through several companies, all while this law has been in effect. Is there evidence of a chilling effect, or are we looking to fix a hypothetical situation?

  3. David H. Lawrence XVII says

    It’s far from hypothetical. You may not have noticed, but a couple of workshops have gone out of business rather than be uncertain about compliance with the new law. Have you been continuing with the practice of handing a CD your headshot? Probably not, or the workshop location is not in compliance. I’ll also be posting the threatening letter that Mark Lambert, Assistant City Attorney for Los Angeles, sent to any workshop he could find. In it, you’ll read his intention to enforce the law vigorously.

  4. BD says

    I have read the letter sent to workshops on January 26, David, and I can’t find anything “threatening” in the letter whatsoever. The letter is not accusatory, does not say to workshops that they are breaking the law or that they’re doing anything wrong at all. From what I read, it’s a simple expository (albeit rather lengthy) summary of the law, and includes, among other things, definitions, obligations and penalties for violations.

    What part of his letter did you find threatening? I hope you do post it.

    Casting director workshops in and of themselves are not necessarily illegal, and the letter from the City Attorney’s office doesn’t say that. There are, however, things that happen in workshops – and at other kinds of talent-related services – that are illegal, and the law is meant to address those things. No one, no matter how much they benefit, is “free to choose” to violate the law.

  5. David H. Lawrence XVII says

    Billy, I didn’t find any of Mark Lambert’s letter personally threatening, but then I don’t own a casting workshop company – I’m just an innocent actor that the proponents of this law, including you, are trying desperately to protect. However, the casting workshop owners that I’ve spoken with (and more than a few actors who are also subject to its penalties) find the letter far more threatening, and, unfortunately, ambiguous in stated requirements for compliance, and therefore legally dangerous, than do you.

    I look forward to continuing this dialogue with you, and am glad your’e here.

  6. BD says

    Thanks for posting the link to http://DoNotPay.org. It’s something I think all actors should read. And thanks for pointing out some of the “old news”. The UPDATE regarding the Casting Access Project was actually written in 2004 – so the update wasn’t updated. 🙂

    Some misunderstanding exists here, methinks. The Lambert letter to workshops doesn’t threaten anyone, and actors are not subject to any penalties under the law.

    By the way, for clarification’s sake, I am not the “driving force” behind AB1319. I didn’t write it, I didn’t help write it, I didn’t have anything to do with its creation. PLEASE, the last thing I need is a million letters from disgruntled actors and angry workshop owners with death threats. I already rode that horse.

    My interest is AB1319 in helping educate actors on what the law means. You and I have a difference of opinion on the legal implications of the bill and what they mean.

    We also have a difference of opinion on why workshops exist. You contend that there can be some education in these venues (I agree in principle), but you also admit that workshops are hurting because “AB1319 is preventing actors from meeting and influencing the very people that could be key to their careers”. David, that’s the reason the law exists. That’s called bribery plain and simple.

    From Websters:
    “BRIBE: money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust”

    Paying money to influence someone in a position to hire you violates not only AB1319 but State Labor Code 450. It also is a violation of your SAG Rule 11, an offense punishable by fine or loss of membership. How could you ever suggest or condone an activity that could get actors booted from the guild?

    The reason these laws and rules exist is not to make it hard for actors to get work. It’s to make sure that those in power don’t exploit or abuse that power. And no matter how nice or approachable or actor-friendly these workshop casting associates are, they are using their positions as a way to make a handy second income – and trust me, at $200 a pop a dozen times a month, some of these casting people make more than you think from actors. The workshops have become the defacto avenue to access. That’s why some activity that takes place in workshops is illegal. The law is meant to make certain that a workshop is…well…a workshop.

    Your arguments are sound. Paying a casting person for access to their office works. It’s a fast, effective and easy way to influence those who can hire you.

    Your argument, however, is precisely what is getting workshops in a buttload of trouble.

    bd

  7. David H. Lawrence XVII says

    That’s how you, an untrained legal non-expert looks at things. Reading the code, even labor relations lawyers have differing opinions, some of which will appear here soon. If we were to take your definition of bribery as fact, there better be a lot of laws passed to govern every aspect of sales – and there are plenty of politicians who probably don’t want that definition applied to them when it comes to campaign donations. Not that that would ever happen.

    There’s no fine line between bribery and coercion and the concept of simple awareness and influence. I seek to clarify and legalize casting workshops as they stand today, headshot and resume passing and all.

    Casting directors don’t hire you. You know this, because you’re a casting director. That means that an “unscrupulous” casting director must be in collusion with the final decision makers to actually get someone work in your scenario. They’re not going to put up for roles actors that are bad – and that’s the bottom line. But seeing new talent several times a month is a good thing.

  8. BD says

    OK. We’ll see what the law decides in the end. But tell me what you think this means:

    “Except with written permission of the Screen Actors Guild, to be given in such manner as shall be from time to time prescribed by the Board of Directors, the making, solicitation or collection of group gifts or memorials of any character by members of the Screen Actors Guild to or for producers, production managers, directors, assistant directors, members of casting offices, and ramrods or any other person connected with the production department of motion pictures, shall be considered conduct unbecoming a member of the Guild.

    It shall likewise be deemed conduct unbecoming a member for any member of the Guild, directly or indirectly, to give or offer to give any money, gift, gratuity or other thing of value to an employer, or prospective employer, to any officer, agent, representative or employee of such employer or prospective employer, or to any employment or casting agency representing an employer, or prospective employer or to any of their officers, agents, representatives or employees as an inducement to secure employment. This rule shall not apply to prohibit the lawful commissions to motion picture agents holding franchises with the Guild.”

    You can parse the legality of what a bribe is, and you can even believe that casting directors don’t hire actors (even though I personally hired every single actor on this movie I just finished). But SAG rules make in clear. Paying a casting director is conduct unbecoming a member. Inducement to secure employment is is inducement.to secure employment. That’s what happens in workshops. You think that’s OK.

    Better to stick with the “workshops are education” meme. That’s what the workshop “coalition”, the lobby group formed by a dozen workshop operators, were able to convince the law to believe 8 years ago.

    As a side note, the labor attorneys with the California Department of Labor and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement were pretty clear when they interpreted the law a few years ago with respect to workshops and Labor Code 450b. They said in their decision regarding the issue:

    “There currently exist a number of single session workshops where a group of veteran and/or aspiring actors pay a fee, submit headshots and resumes, and perform cold readings of sides for an invited casting director or his assistant representing a producer with current casting needs for film and/or television. As the agency authorized to interpret and enforce this statute, it is our position that these workshops are presumptively in violation of the provisions of section 450 of the Labor Code. This is so even where the casting director or assistant gives some incidental direction or suggestions to some or all of the participants during
    the course of the session.”

    It’s already been determined that workshops as they existed then, and as they mostly exist now violate the Labor Code. Because there’s been no enforcement does not mean that there’s been no crime.

    David, with all due respect, I am making this my last post on the subject; not because I don’t appreciate the dialogue – I do – but because I really don’t want to get dragged back into the issue as an advocate or an enemy. It really ruined my career and made me very ill 8 years ago. I like working and being healthy!

    So I will watch and silently root for the law to prevail. SAG, the CSA, the LA City Attorney’s office and the State Assembly of the State of California have all weighed in on the side of the actors (whether you believe that to be true or not), and I’ll stand with them, as quietly as I can from the sidelines.

  9. M says

    “Actors want all workshops” – REALLY? That is an opinion, not fact. Talk to the majority of working actors and they will tell you emphatically NO. Most actors i have spoken to about this topic say and will agree, these workshops are unfair and gross by nature, but then say “how can i meet them otherwise”. MAKE THEM DO THEIR JOB.

    It’s called generals, pre-reads, go to theatre, etc, etc… THEIR JOB is not to be PAID to sit in a room and watch you audition. Invite them to class, make them come see you or damn actually have them do pre-reads? Novel idea.

    You say “That’s the way it’s supposed to work: a business person (the actor) meeting a customer (the casting person), displaying their wares and leaving behind a sample (the performance) and a business card (headshot and resume). And an actor should be like any other businessperson – they use any opportunity to meet their potential customer’s needs and, hopefully, fill them.”

    NO, far from how it ‘works’. Any other industry in the world would call this act unethical. If you were a computer programming, would you pay to meet the HR person at Apple for a job? Nope. You wouldn’t. you would call that unfair. you would complain to a labor board and they would stop that. If you can name any other industry in the world where that is considered ok and ethical TO PAY. TO PAY , I would love to see it. yes, meeting people and leaving your business stuff behind is totally normal, but paying for the right to do so – NO OK. Personally, I have worked in other industries and honestly, all my interviews, meetings, etc, came from building relationships with people who then in turn would offer to help. What do actors do? We pay to meet people and push that off as networking? Laughable. Yes, you will get auditions along the line, of course, but honestly to build a career of these is not likely or cost effective.

    1 workshop = $30 bucks
    Actor does 8 a month ( $240 bucks) for 12 months = $2880 a year

    You have to book at least 1 top of show to cover that and lets be honest casting directors are looking for Top of show actors at workshops. If they find em, great. but i dont think that is what they are looking for.

    You say “The proof of this is in the pudding: the list of actors who have found success is long and lustrous”

    Really? How do you mean “success”?

  10. David H. Lawrence XVII says

    “Talk to the majority of working actors and they will tell you emphatically NO.” That seems to be a statement of opinion as well – this site would not be in existence if the majority of actors I’ve spoken to were in agreement with you. There are arguments on both sides to be heard, and I appreciate you weighing in.

    I want to reiterate that no one here is forcing actors to take paid workshops, just that they have the choice to do so. Usually, your argument of “casting directors should do this for free” and “I shouldn’t have to pay” actually means “It’s not fair to people who don’t have the money to take these workshops, giving an unfair advantage to people who do.” Would that be a truth? If so, I certainly understand the argument, but disagree with it. Money has always been a discriminator, much to the chagrin of people who would rather yearn for the common denominator rather than pay extra for better service – yet we do it all the time. And I understand that you disagree with my business approach to my career. I’ll just continue on, happy with the results, and hope that we can persuade you. I doubt we can, but I think it has more to do with your sense of fair play and possibly being left out while paid attendees meet their customers and perform for them, than actual real world experience. Might that be true?

    Finally, the math you do is correct., except that top of show pays nearly $7000 now. And the goal is far greater than one top of show per year.

  11. M says

    But to put that as a title of post is as much opinion as my statement. I would say its a good split down the middle.

    No one is forcing anyone to do anything, especially actors to pay to have casting people DO THEIR JOB. Their job is to read talent for TV shows. If workshops consisted of auditioning technique, were organized by an acting teacher or the CD themselves took the time to scehdule a facility or arrange, then spent more than a few hours and one reading to do this, then I can see it being a class, but honestly and I mean honestly can you say this are educational? They are there to teach? If there were there to teach, then it woudn’t be an issue would it?

    To answer your question, I should Not have to pay a person hired by a production company and/or studio to read and see actors money to what they are hired to do during the day. What part of that is fair, more importantly ethical?

    It does have to do with my sense of ethics and proper business practices (as you so nicely stated in an earlier post) versus being left. In fact, I am happy to say I am working, have made a good living at this for a few years with no side income. Have built real relationships based on time, talent, professionalism and patience vs. a few hundred bucks in someone’s pocket. Its not about being left out, but though these relationships I have built, i have had honest conversations with casting associates at major offices who have said “I do them for money. If I find someone, great, but that is not why I do it”. Classes? Education? Talk straight with a CD who does them its about cash, not about finding talent. That, coupled with hearing a CD who is notorious for calling in people from workshops say “all my co-stars and 1 day guest stars are from workshops. I don’t pre-read” Tells me that indeed its a paid audition and not a class.

    It will take one and only one studio/network head to get wise to this and you watch how quickly it gets shut down. Until then, the only way we are as actors are ever going to get Casting to, in effect…do their job of coming out to see us in plays, classes, showcases, etc…., is to stop paying them to do their job.

  12. M says

    Side note – yes top of show pays $7000

    Taxes and agent take you down to about $3500 or so. Add a manager and there you. You better be booking lots to cover that. When we all know the majority of actors in workshops are co-star level and that is $800 bucks per job…do the math on that.

  13. AlexK says

    I think the bottom line here is education. I’ve been to workshops where the CD took 45 minutes to answer questions and had prepared specific and helpful insight into the industry. Then he handed out sides, gave notes after each scene, and TAUGHT the actors something. I’ve also been to workshops where the CD answered a few questions, saw 20 actors in 40 minutes, did not give any adjustments, and got their $200.

    I think CD workshops can be helpful and provide a wonderful opportunity for actors. But they should be regulated with specific guidelines that ensure actors are actually being taught something by these industry professionals. Otherwise you cannot compare them to an acting class, voice lesson, etc. That is what this law is trying to do in my opinion. Yes, actors should have the right to choose, but they should also be protected against companies who don’t provide them with what they promise— education.

    Plain and simple, workshop companies should be regulated. If they are in fact educating actors, then they should not be afraid of this law. I can care less that a CD cannot take my headshot. The point of the meeting is to create a relationship. I can send them my headshot at a later time. I just want to get my money’s worth. And many times you really can’t tell whether you will or not, no matter how reputable or trustworthy a workshop can be.

    Here’s an idea: say each CD was required to give at least one adjustment PER actor. Half these workshops would shut down because most CDs wouldn’t do it. B/c the majority of them just want to see talent, give adjustments here and there as they please, get their money, and call it a day. That’s not educating. That’s AUDITIONING, and that is ILLEGAL.

  14. David H. Lawrence XVII says

    So what happens, as happened to me yesterday with Bruce Newburgh, that he loved what I did with his sides from The Closer, and had no adjustments? I agree that casting workshops should be regulated, but I think we should consider a sea change in avoiding the big elephant in the room – that an audition occurs. They should be clearly regulated, not ambiguously.

  15. m says

    Sides from a current show? Hmmmmm get paid by the potential customer to hold an interview.

    Not semi untethical at all?

  16. David H. Lawrence XVII says

    Not in my opinion. He’s looking for new people. And he’s looking for them NOW. And I’m hoping he found at least one in my workshop, if not more. It’s a win for everyone if he does. He’s MY customer, not the other way around. His customer is the producer that’s going to actually hire someone for that part.

  17. M says

    So he is now being paid by actors to do the job he is paid directly by Production/Network/Studio to do during the day and you see nothing wrong with that?

    He is looking for talent, NOW? how about do your job? Pre-reads? Watch demo reels…just a thought.

    This is the most unethical thing I have ever heard of.

  18. David H. Lawrence XVII says

    I have a feeling that if you think about it, you’ve probably heard of things that really are unethical – far more unethical than getting paid for your time to share your expertise, and to meet potential casting candidates. But maybe not. Maybe you’ve been sheltered from the modeling scams and representation scams and management scams that this law was really designed for. At any rate, I do appreciate your continued engagement in the conversation.

  19. Ben Whitehair says

    I think the topic of Casting Director workshops is extremely important to our community, and wanted to add my two cents.

    Let me start by saying that I have attended dozens of workshops and have, in general, been quite pleased with the result. I have met a number of people in casting I would not have otherwise met at this juncture, and have formed a number of strong relationships that will certainly carry into the future. All this to say that I have no bitterness whatsoever towards workshops, though I have had some growing concerns…

    It seems the core of this issue is the idea of paying for a job interview. To me, that it’s illegal is almost beside the point, because so is speeding and tearing that tag off my mattress, and I don’t find the legality of either activity particularly compelling reasons to avoid them. The issue here, though, is that if anyone in a field is allowed to PAY for a job interview, the playing field suddenly becomes very lopsided, and unfairly so. Should Rich Kid Sally have a better shot at that coveted office job with flexible hours, high pay, and an understanding that you’re going to need to leave for auditions over Poor Kid Joe merely because she could pay for a job interview? At that point, we are no longer looking at merit (or even connections, social intelligence, whatever) as a reason for hire. Suddenly the well-to-do are able to (ostensibly) move to the front of the line simply because of money. Restricting this practice does not come from a motivation of restricting choice, but rather to protect large portions of the population as well as attempting to have as level a playing field as possible. It’s the same reason why politicians are allowed to buy advertising, but not actual votes. 🙂

    Now, some have argued that workshops are not paid auditions, to which I have to wholeheartedly disagree. Yes, there are actual classes and other one-offs that are more educational, but I have not been to a *single* workshop in which the VAST majority of attendees were there primarily because the CD could potentially give them a job. If the workshops were run by writers instead of casting directors, I have no doubt that workshop attendance would dramatically decrease (which is ironic, because writers probably have more power to hire actors than CDs do, but that’s a whole other Oprah). Even the top-rated, most legitimate workshop places I have attended speak tongue-in-cheek about the “educational” value of the workshops. Everyone knows that in the end workshops are (primarily) a way of attempting to procure future employment. Yes there are exceptions, yes workshops can be good audition practice, and yes some CDs are more edifying than others, but I find it hard to believe that if CDs were suddenly stripped of their hiring power that ANY actor would attend these workshops.

    When looking at the actual laws being put in place, I think it’s important to look at who they affect as well. To be honest, I’m not really worried about the actors who are on top of their game, doing their research and everything else in their power to forward their career (read: the actors who most benefit from workshops anyway). It’s the countless masses of others who are unaware and are more apt to need protection. I moved to L.A. about a year ago, and started doing workshops because it seemed to be “the thing to do.” I never thought twice about it until this controversy arose. That concerns me. If we as a community proffer that paying for job interviews is the standard, then it will indeed become so. I recently encountered an actress who had just started acting about 6 months ago. She was deep in research over all the workshop places because that’s what everyone else was doing. I guess I’m less concerned about a law keeping her from attending a workshop, and more troubled with the fact that workshops were her default method of moving forward. She was surrounded by a community of intelligent actors; why was no one saying that perhaps she should get a little more training or do some more research on what workshops actually were before diving in head first? This is the actor who needs protection–be it provided by the law or from her peers.

    The bigger question for me, is how we want to be viewed as an acting community. Why is it that we demand for our right to pay for what used to be free? I’m certainly not advocating nostalgia over the “good ol’ days” of general meetings and play attendance (I’m too young to do so anyway :p), but when was the last time someone even asked for a general meeting? We claim to be a community of creatives, and yet when it comes to the business pursuit of our careers we often become myopic, doing the same things as everyone else. We live in a time where there are more ways than ever to get on the radar of anyone with the ability to hire us. From social media to self-submitting to self-producing to web series to networking events to more television shows on air than ever before to good ol’ fashioned phone calls–there are so many myriad ways to get ourselves and our work in front of people on the other side of the desk I worry when there is an uproar over not being able to pay for the privilege. In a day and age where an email or even a tweet can deliver a reel of our best work to anyone instantaneously, I am reticent to think that actors cannot get their work seen by CDs in any other way than a workshop. What if actors simply started dropping off hard copies of their demo reels to casting offices. How much more effective and efficient might that be than paying $40+ and 2+ hours to see a CD for 5 minutes? I would wager that if actors called casting officers saying that they couldn’t afford/were opposed to CD workshops, and asked to send/drop off a demo reel that they would have a 90% success rate in getting it viewed. Don’t have a demo reel? Well get together the 20 actors who were going to go to the workshop, pool the $40 a piece, and take that $800 to hire a full crew (DPs, writers, editors, the whole nine…) for a day to film reel material for everyone. Or take the next $800 from everyone’s next workshop and produce a showcase, or a web series, or a play, or whatever…all ways to get your work seen. Or hell, if it really is about the educational experience, then take all that money and hire one of these CDs to come direct scenes for 2 hours, or see a play, or critique demo reels, or be filming something and have the CD show up to direct/critique. What better way to get Casting Directors to know your work than to invite them onto a set to see how people work…?

    I understand why actors do CD workshops. I certainly know why I’ve done them. It’s one of the very few guaranteed ways to get your work in front of a legitimate casting person. More than anything, workshops make me FEEL like I’m part of the greater, more legitimate acting industry in the city. And if I’m honest with myself, workshops are easy. It’s far easier for me to plunk down 40 bones and know that I’m at least starting an industry relationship than it is to pick up the phone and cold call a producer.

    I would hope that we wouldn’t need a law to protect us from ourselves. And again, I honestly don’t care that much about the law itself, but I also don’t buy that actors will do workshops no matter what. The same was said about no one wearing seatbelts, or hockey players not wearing helmets. Interestingly, in both those cases the community-at-large desired the law, but broke it individually. When polled, professional hockey players said they wanted everyone to wear helmets, but without a guarantee that everyone would, there was an individual disadvantage to do so. It wasn’t until it was mandated that ALL hockey players wear helmets that they did so…and happily.

    If I’ve learned nothing else in my year in Los Angeles, it’s that the community of actors truly is brilliant. People are smart, supportive, and caring. Whether we decide to do workshops or not, I just hope that we can take a hard and honest at look at why we do them, and if they are indeed the best thing for our community AS A WHOLE. We’re all in this together…

    Thanks for reading one actor’s opinion. =)

    Ben Whitehair

  20. david G says

    It is a very complicated issue and basically is a reflection of our entire American society, which although it decries bribery and peddling influence, is almost entirely based on it! What is a trade show? What are lobbyists? What is a sales event? What is a pharma company buying a doctor’s entire office staff lunch? If that’s not bribery and peddling influence I don’t know what is.

    In principle, I agree that CD workshops should not be allowed because they really aren’t fair. Actors are artists and have no income other than that derived from outside sources or performing. Casting directors have a job and that is to see actors…when they get paid to see the same actors they see in the course of their job, frankly it stinks! You mention freebees…well can’t remember attending any of those except maybe once in a blue moon put on by SAG or something.

    Actors don’t want workshops…they want to see CDs so if CD’s WON’T see them otherwise, they are forced to pay to see them…where do you get WANT out of that? They are mildly educational, i can’t deny that…they talk about their preferences and the show’s style, etc. which is very valuable and not available anywhere else…and that is where they should stop. If anything, if a CD wants to get paid, they should be paid by an acting teacher to come and talk about the general issues of auditioning for their particular office…because that is all they can talk about…pretending to teach acting is simply BS.

    Let’s face it, the poor actor is F_cked. He can’t see anyone until he has credits and has the least money of everyone but is expected to spend the most of everyone, and CDs take advantage of that just like everyone else.

    To say that actors want workshops is simply NOT true. We want to act and there are so many barriers put in front of us, that we resort to paying for CD services that are already being paid for by their true employers, producers. In my mind, the producers should be the ones stopping workshops because they are basically using propietary/copyrighted information to moonlight.

    I also have to question your numbers…$150-$200? If it’s really 1/5 of what bartender makes, they can go bartend. Don’t try to make us feel sorry for how little money they are making or that they are doing it out of the goodness of their heart. At $50/pop for 20 actors, that’s $1000. You’re telling me the workshop is keeping 80%? I find that hard to believe. Any evidence to back that up?

    Finally (not really; I could go on), If one CD thinks they are unethical (BD), then they probably are, because ethics are pretty much universal. We know what is ethical and what is not…but we choose to try to justify being unethical by using arguments like, ‘well if i don’t do it, someone else will’. Sorry, that doesn’t make something ethical, it just makes everyone who practices it UN-ethical.

  21. David H. Lawrence XVII says

    There are a lot of universal assumptions in your post that I can’t agree with, such as your math the assumption that CDs should spend their own time looking for new talent for free just because we say they should, and ethics being universal (or even an issue to be concerned with, although I can see how you can think that’s part of this equation), but the title of this post is Actors Want ALL Workshops, not Actors Want Workshops. I’m asking for choice, and the clarification of the law to give us that choice, free and clear of any threats or encumbrances by our state government.



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