How to warn other actors about companies that have mistreated or not paid you
How to warn other actors about companies that have mistreated or not paid you.
The main issue here is protecting yourself and others from being mistreated. The worry that you may be getting into a honey trap with a company that has no intention of paying you is a worry for all aspiring actors, and really even for more established ones, they just have more people around them to help weed out the bad contacts than you or I do.
The first thing you need to remember is that it is not a bad thing to speak out about companies that are hurting our business. There is always the fear that by speaking up we are putting ourselves out there and will then be seen as a trouble maker. Remember, that company wasn't planning on paying you, the fact that they won't hire you again because you have uncovered their trick is not the issue as they shouldn't be operating anyway. But I can understand why you think it would make you look bad to other companies, but companies that are legitimate are also hurt by these underhanded agents, studios and companies that give the industry a bad name, so it isn't going to be an issue for you.
As I have stated, it is crucial that you speak out about agents and companies that treat employees badly. Now I will cover HOW to do that.
First of all. Never underestimate that power of word of mouth. If we like something we will tell 2-3 people. If we hate something we are likely to tell 9-11 people on average. Word spreads quickly and if those words are about companies that don't pay when they have said they will, or agents that are trying to convince you to get £500 headshots before they will take you on (personal experience) then those words will be extra potent in peoples ears. It is a friendly courtesy to tell fellow actors about bad experiences you have had because you would hope for the same in return. This may be a cut-throat business but if we look out for each other more then things will be much safer for working actors.
Another way of alerting people to unprofessional behavior is via sites like Casting Call Pro. That's one of the great things about CCP, the ability to connect with thousands of actors using the forums and noticeboards. I always check out the forums if I have any questions. If you know of a bad company, and have legitimate proof (this is crucial, it cannot just be hear-say) then tell everyone about them and prevent others from being used and spat out by a company/agent/studio that doesn't treat their actors/employees with any respect. You can also use the forum if you are worried about an audition you have with a specific company. Just put up a question like "Has anyone had any experience auditioning or dealing with 'Unknown Agency' because I have an audition next week and don't know what to expect." And you will be surprised at the responses you will get. Even if it's just to put your mind at ease then it's worth while.
Finally, I would also suggest that you look through the online-blogging community. Those guys write reviews, opinion pieces and columns on so many different topics and I know there are actors out their in this community that write on auditioning and the industry and they will have notes on bad experiences they have had also.
It can be difficult taking other people's advice. This is a competitive business and it is understandable that you don't always trust someone and you want to find out for yourself. But as we all treat each other with a bit of respect, trust will begin to form.
So, in conclusion, telling people about companies that mistreat and don't pay is essential to the industry and those in it so:
1. Don't be afraid to speak out.
2. Talk, talk, talk.
3. Check out websites like CCP for colleague help.
4. Investigate the blogging community.
5. Try and listen to advice.
And in the spirit of coming forward and helping my fellow actors. The agent I mentioned earlier that told me that without these £500 headshots I couldn't get work, and when I said I would rather use the ones I had, never returned a single email or phone-call are ... 'International Casting' based in Loughton.