Unprofessional, unsettling and downright odd activities

  • Helena Martin

    Actor

    In recent months I have found myself at a number of unsavoury auditions, and this is not through lack of my investigation into the company.

    This got me thinking. What would stop me from going onto a web-site such as this, registering as an employer and posting a random fake casting call along the lines of “Feature, Equity Minimum, Award Winning Director”? Then whip up a few pages of tantalisingly obscure dialogue, set up auditions at my house (calling it The Media Centre, 3 Nosuch Road) and invite all the lovely vulnerable people to wait in my bedroom while I auditioned people in my front room with a camera I'd borrowed off a mate?

    We as actors have to give at least three professional credits and/or training at an accredited drama school whereas the casting professionals give nothing. They can see our profiles, but we are not permitted to look at theirs, not even to see what projects they've worked on in the past. Surely this would give us an idea of whether or not we want to submit to the particular company.

    We've recently seen posts about films that have turned out to be dire for whatever reason, and I'm concerned about this, but more so about how easy it has become to promote yourself as an employer whatever your background might be.

    I've put this out in the hope of getting some gems of suggestions from ccp, other actors and casting professionals.

    To be honest I'm really tired of trekking miles to be welcomed by such unprofessional, unsettling and downright odd activities.

    (No disrespect meant to ccp. I've attended many great auditions and worked on some fabulous projects thanks to the service they provide.)

    Helena xx

    • 17th Aug 2006
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    I definitely think it would be beneficial if we could see their past projects and features, because sometimes, despite 'Googling' and the like, it's impossible to learn anything about a film company if all you are given is a name and they are relatively new etc. I like to try and find out a bit about who I am applying to work with before I submit my application...just as employers learn about us through our profiles before deciding whether they want to see us. Hope your unsavoury auditions were not too horrific!

    • 15th Aug 2006
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    Dear Helena

    I am so glad you have raised this issue and I had much the same thoughts about "any body being able to set themselves up as an employer and posting a random fake casting call."

    What we can do about this as individuals I am sure you do already ('Googling' and all that).

    However as many of us on CCP are Equity members I would suggest that we go to our local Equity branch meetings raise this issue and affect change through our trade union as active union members.

    As individuals we can discus the issues that concern us until hell freezes over but nothing will change. Through Equity we already have a collective body which we should use to affect change.

    To find info on your nearest Equity General Branch visit www.equity.org.uk/start_contact.htm

    Cheers

    TRACEY

    • 15th Aug 2006
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  • Lucy Perkins

    Actor

    I totally agree. It's very unfair as it stands at the moment. When you apply for a regular job you research the company and it's credentials as much as possible and vice versa. So why the caginess with production companies. It doesn't make sense.

    I'd like to see a feature here on CCP that insists empoyers have a profile or at least a link.

    Lx

    • 15th Aug 2006
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    In a nutshell you will never really know who is legit or not. Because there are virtual office services where you can pay for an address in Mayfair for as little as £50 a month, have a free 0845 number redirected to your home phone and even have a receptionsist answer in 'your company' name for as little as £10 a month. For another £50 you can get your company name optimised in internet searches with the information that you want people to know. Impressive business cards, media packs cost as little as £250 for a couple of thousands. Domain names like .co.uk ones can be as little as £3.99 per year and for another $10 a month you can get a very professional looking website template which you can update by simply typing and clicking submit. I am a freelance casting agent and by the way i do not have a website and i work from home and my official number is still my mobile. I have a casting coming up with a client doing a pilot for a tv show and we will be hiring out a venue. That is my first client and i was recruited because the producer used to be my lecturer about 10 years ago and he supports me venturing out on my own. But whilst this is my first project, i am equally keen to see that it goes well because if it does not my career is effectively over as i would have lost a great contact as well.

    There is a production, casting diary printed every year available from retailers. Make it a point to only work with the companies listed there if you are wary of new people.

    New companies will spring up everyday but it does not mean that they intend to defraud every actor in sight. That is not to say that there are some who wont prey on the vulnerability and over-excitement some amatuer actors exhibit in the bid to be famous. Actors can similarly create a profile on this site and lie about their credentials and name films that do not exist and credit it to being a 'student or unpaid' project somewhere. Maybe a better approach is to find a way of facilitating beeter commnication and understanding between younger production companies and new actors who are actively hunting for jobs because no one really knows who they are enough to bug their agent to book them. These are two groups who need each other. If they don't then it is simple do now work with a company because they are new.

    Because for everytime Equity goes on the attack on indie companies based on feedback from actors you can be extremely sure that most smaller production companies will also launch a list of dodgy actors.

    What is the answer to the problem i do not know but bear in mind that all that glitters is not always gold. The Flying Scotsman was made after three attempts and the first time collapsed on the eve of the production despite having all the right ticks and crosses on the normal checklist. Some producers/directors working on their first projects do tend to approach it with an extreme amount of energy because their careers also depend on it and in most cases have more to lose. So unless you are meeting really dodgy people with no interest in film at all..............

    • 15th Aug 2006
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  • Helena Martin

    Actor

    Thank you everyone for responding so far...

    I guess it's a deep subject, but I didn't really want to get into disrespecting anyone whether it be new actors, directors, film makers etc just want some ideas of how to make internet sites a little safer.

    For example, perhaps ccp could inform employers that no auditions are to be held at private addresses...if word gets back that this is not the case then they will not be allowed to post again. It's such a small thing, but it makes a difference (as Icuk has obviously noticed by the fact they are hiring a venue - thank you!) We feel safer to go to a managed building (spaces are so cheap these days) and we know that the team we are meeting are concerned enough to want to provide us with a reasonable auditioning environment.

    That's just one of the sort of things I was thinking of...

    • 15th Aug 2006
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  • Helena Martin

    Actor

    Icauk - sorry ; )

    • 15th Aug 2006
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  • Rebecca Probyn

    Actor

    Completely agree Helena, it does make you think its a bit one sided sometimes after all we are trying to sell oursleves as much as they are, after all this is a business. It wouldn't put me off if a production was someones first it would sometimes be nice to be offered or have information on the company more readily available.

    Would this not benefit the production & direction side of the business also?

    • 15th Aug 2006
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    Good on you Helena for bringing this thorny subject up.

    Another casting site has a section where actors rate the production companies they have worked for so that if they cast again you can readily view any comments on them (good or bad), their professionalism, the overall standard of their work ethic and generally how they treat the actors. It's a useful tool to have but obviously only works when the actors take the time to complete the feedback form when they add a credit to their on-line CV. When you view the casting it alerts you to the rating so you can view it easily.

    Would be good to have something similar on here although I have no idea how difficult it would be to set up.

    • 15th Aug 2006
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    I would not think it is a wise idea to go to someone's house for a casting. That is actually unsafe and no one should ask you to go to their house for a casting. There are quite a handful of unions for us producers that rent space cheaply or even allow you to use it for free so unless they do not know what they are doing, they really should not ask you to audition in their living room. I have worked on a reality show with C4 and the only reasons auditions took place in living rooms was because we went to the houses of the contestants and interviewed them there for a reality program. You can rate production companies publicly but as Ashley pointed out if you rate expect to be rated back ......

    • 15th Aug 2006
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    Sasha,

    Not sure that approach will work because if producers decide to host a website where actors are rated based on conduct a significant no of people within your industry would be jobless for life:) Remember that most productions big or small do encounter problems and if you are around on the day that the problem occurs and the company is too small or strapped for cash to offer an equally comfortable alternative your rating might not reflect the fact that their intention was honorable but is more likely to focus on the downside. In most cases bad experiences make them better equipped for the next production and the last thing they would need are actors showing up with pre-conceptions because Sasha rated them on a bad day. Just a thought because certain practices could come back to hunt you as actors and not in a good way because you still need the production companies to exist and set up projects for you to stay in business. I would say urge your unions to foster better communication or links between the two groups or a way of verifying each other because the misrepresentation does occur both ways. Because you all need each other and in these days of 'wannabe overload' actors more so.

    • 15th Aug 2006
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  • Blake J Askew

    Actor

    The problem is that many casting bulletines, including CCP, ( sorry guys, I am just being honest) do seem to allow any basic auditions at any old place and us actors have to sometimes trek miles to a place out in the middle of the world, raking up a £15 transport fare, and the casting companies dont even seem to care...can something be done about this?

    Correct me if i am wromg, but actors seem to always have the last say on this and we ARE treated as the bottom of the food chain becaseu there are so many of us in the industry. I agree that there should be a form of screening for casting directors and new companies on CCP which empowers us more to decide who is good and not good. They should also have to list theitr credits and location, which should be simply stated on the audition brief..ie. need to travel to eg... Mottingham or Woking etc

    • 15th Aug 2006
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    I am not sure how the companies will be screened because there is a supposed vetting process for actors but we have had a few actors who actually lied on their cv's on this site and listed non-existent productions because they did not realise that they would be quizzed about it during the audition. I have had to turn people down at my last job because i realised that they were travelling from Glasgow to London for a one-liner role, I thought i was doing them a favour because i knew it was not worth it but they thought i was wrong, one of them insisted on coming down and his line did not even make it into the film and he was annoyed but i could not feel sorry for him when i heard because his anxiety beat logic. I do think that actors do need to draw the line for themselves and know when not to show. For us creative freelancers it is the same. We also need to weigh the projects we work on and figure out which known company to hustle to get work with or which new ones to do 'in case it blows' or which ones to walk away from. Yes actors do come last in the chain but that is because there is no unity amongst you. Whilst some are complaining, the desperate few will say 'take me, take me.' Same with creative professionals whislt some push for minimum payment, graduates offer their services for free just to get in. It is a hustle regardless.If i had the answer i will be a millionaire and not even have time to view this board, I am sure Hugh Grant is not a CCP registered actor.

    • 15th Aug 2006
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    When I am at the dizzy heights of a Hugh Grant success (note 'when') I will insist on a wireless enabled laptop in me winnebago and come onto the CCP forum during my breaks.

    H x

    That's a promise ;-)

    • 16th Aug 2006
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    Hi Helena, Hope your well, I totally understand what you are saying..You have raised a very good issue ..I would say trust your instincts first and foremost..google search/ check out the companies website..(not had time to check the earlier threads)..inform Equity..see if they can do something about this/ make changes. x

    • 16th Aug 2006
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    lcauk - I think you have misunderstood my posting! I was just pointing out that such a service did exist on another site as the issue had been raised.To be honest every rating I have viewed on there has been positive and to suggest that anyone would make a posting based on "having a bad day" would be totally unprofessional on the actor's part.I think as actors we are quite able to differentiate between "having a bad day but trying really hard" and "just couldn't give a damn" attitudes.We are not idiots nor are we vindictive! We can't survive without projects to work on and production companies can't survive without actors! We are hardly likely to bite the hand that feeds us - on either side!!

    Hope that makes it clearer!

    • 16th Aug 2006
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    Think the reference to Hugh Grant was slightly unfair....

    There is plenty of talent and dedication on this site,remember luck has a huge part to play in who works and who doesn't.

    Just because an actor subscribes to CCP doesn't make them "bargain basement". We are all trying to carve careers in this tough business. Nigel Hawthorne was a job in actor for years before his big break in "Yes Minister".

    Many Nigel Hawthornes of the future may start out here.

    We should really stop bickering with each other. There is a distinct difference between lack of experience and lack of professionaism. That includes actors and film makers. Neither side should tolerate a poor attitude.

    I think the problem is actors have had dreadful experineces and film makers have encountered bad actors. The good news is there are plenty of GOOD people out there if you look.

    • 16th Aug 2006
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  • Rebecca Probyn

    Actor

    well said Sash :)

    • 16th Aug 2006
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    Also I am pretty sure the blokey who used to play Barry on Eastenders is on here....

    RAAAAGHRRRGHRRGHRRRRRRRRR

    • 16th Aug 2006
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  • Rebecca Probyn

    Actor

    hehe Yes Helen he is.

    I do agree with the "nigel hawthorne" post. tis true, just because we aren't famous doesn't mean that we are any less talented, I am sure there are plenty of people on here who are damn finer actors than some of the rubbish I think we have all seen on television every night of the week.

    We are all waiting for our break into which ever field we want to be part of, I for one won;t be completely happy until I see my name on a billboard on a theatre on Shaftesbury avenue! Then my dream will have come true

    We just have to keep working hard and then hope for lady luck to be on our side!

    If after all the talent on this or any other site was so terrible why would the production companies and directors bother to use it?

    • 16th Aug 2006
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