How to stay safe in acting auditions and avoid dodgy castings
Professional acting auditions are, the majority of the time, safe spaces for casting directors, producers and directors to see your ability, your attitude and whether you fit a role. However, as in many industries, there are some strange and/or unprofessional people out there requesting unusual things or withholding information traditionally given out to actors. So how can you avoid wasting time or swerve getting into an uncomfortable (or dangerous) situation when new opportunities arise?
Mandy News is here to help you navigate the audition process both at the application stage and while you're in the casting room.
Castings traditionally offer a wealth of information about the position; details about the role you'll be playing, the rate on offer, the casting location, the production company, the casting director, filming/show dates and more.
If the job is through a trusted agency or is being cast for a production company with a string of verified credits then you should be fine. However, if this job/opportunity is something you've found yourself and details are thin on the ground then you'll want to play detective.
Yes, by all means submit your headshot, showreel and CV initially but, once you're called in, make sure you know all the things you want to know; location, rate, details of the project, what the characters are and if there's anything unusual or out-of-the-ordinary involved.
A professional casting director or production company should have no problem answering questions and have a very good and immediate reason as to why those details can't be provided. Don't be afraid to ask for their website, what they've done and if they appear unhappy or angry that you want to know facts that you have every right knowing then it could be that they're hiding something. Don't worry about seeming unprofessional. Wanting to know details is perfectly reasonable and normal.
If you are wary about a casting breakdown, get in touch with Mandy.com and our expert team will help.
For UK castings, under no circumstances should you ever pay to attend a casting. No. Just no! If the "opportunity" is asking YOU for payment, then steer clear – it's a trap! This differs slightly in the US, where combined auditions can take a registration fee.
Sometimes casting locations aren't confirmed until the day or night before. Casting directors or production companies often have one hundred and one other things to do, including casting other projects, responding to new breakdowns and/or last minute decisions made by directors or producers. However, once the location comes through, check where it is and see if it seems like a legitimate place to visit. Ask your friends or colleagues if they think it seems normal. There are dozens of amazing forums – including Mandy.com – to mine other professionals for thoughts.
Yes, you may have scores of other tasks that day but make an effort to find out instead of whacking the postcode into Google Maps and heading over. Due diligence can save you a wasted trip.
Under no circumstances should the casting location be the flat or house of the casting director, producer or directors. Neither should it take place over a drink at a hotel. If this is requested then avoid.
Auditions can take place anywhere between 7am and 7pm depending on the production and how last minute it is being put together. No audition, however, should be taking place at night. Ever.
If the information appears in garbled English with a multitude of typos and absolutely no clarity then what does that say to you about the company or individual's level of professionalism? Avoid.
You should NEVER be expected to undress to any level during a casting.
If you arrive at the location and the area seems strange, the building is falling apart, the audition space doesn't have a receptionist or has one who isn't aware that castings are taking place, then you might be walking into a waste of time or worse. It's difficult to be precise here but you should hopefully have gained an instinct, over time, as to what's reasonable and acceptable and what is unprofessional. Take pictures as evidence, should you need to alert Equity or another union in the future.
Casting directors, producers and directors are busy people, run off their feet and can sometimes be curt during manic periods but 99% of the time a level of friendliness and professionalism is present. If the energy of the people in the room is strange, uncommunicative, too intimate or odd questions are being asked then make your excuses and leave. Be confident and clear. You are equal as human beings.
If you're attending a casting and are undecided as to whether it doesn't feel right or whether you're being paranoid, we would always advise skipping the casting. However, if you are insistent on attending, inform several loved ones where you're going, at what time and be sure to update them of any changes.
Life lessons aren't life lessons if you don't learn from them. Unless, you have a passion for wasted time, dead-end "opportunities" and needless drama, you don't want to find yourself in these bad situations over and over again. Read and re-read this guide, reminisce about your past experiences and fine-tune your instinct so that you can instantly tell what is and isn't worth dealing with, save precious time and avoid future problems and pain.
Real production companies, casting directors and producers are there to service the needs of their production, whether it be a commercial, theatre, film or TV show – they're not there to charge you, make you feel uncomfortable or treat you like rubbish.
Unprofessional casting breakdowns are often there to prey on the hopes and dreams of actors with the motive of getting something for nothing or, worse, to do get a performer to do strange things for no reason other than for their depraved pleasure. At best, they simply don't know how the industry works, what it is they are supposed to provide for an actor and might be power-tripping on their position of "director" or "producer".
Be sure to scrutinise any castings you've found outside of your agent or known production companies, talk to people and, ideally, make the decision to attend or not based on the level of information provided – rather than attending anyway and getting a nasty surprise. Crooks can be convincing and sophisticated these days so look for typos in URLs (equitay.org.uk is not Equity, spot-lightactingjobs.biz is not Spotlight etc) or any other minor details that seem amiss.
Mandy.com's brilliant, expert team of job administrators vet every job and opportunity posted on our Actors job boards but if you have any concerns, do get in touch with us at [email protected] and our dedicated staff will investigate.Tags: