casting director workshops
Running a business is hard. It’s all trial and error. If you’re in the service industry and you own the company, you’ll blow someone for a Yelp review.
Actor service businesses are especially tough. Speaking out against casting director workshops was not the best idea while growing my business. The whole thing was dumb and I regret ever getting involved.
I’ve met a few actors that blame speaking out for not having a career. Maybe you missed out on some opportunities, but I don't think anything can get in the way of hard work. Maybe if you were a dick. Still probably not. I think most of us put effort in the wrong areas because of the overwhelming influence of industry “experts.” I think a lot of this crap is subjective.
The whole workshop thing was ridiculous. I stopped paying attention when casting directors were being prosecuted. That's just crazy. It’s gross that an actor was asked to go undercover to expose the workshops. Actors should not be put in a position to make a choice nor should they be asked to go undercover. Asking an actor to go undercover is just as bad as what those on the other side are blaming casting directors and workshop owners of doing.
I told every actor that came through my studio to consider workshops. I’ve always felt it would be in their best interest to explore all opportunities.
It was wrong for me to take sides. My advice is to stay out of it. In the end, you’ll lose and nobody will care. The only casting directors that would pay attention to me were against workshops. I didn’t have access to any casting directors that did workshops, so I’ve never heard their side of the argument.
Casting directors have too much influence over us, which I think is the real issue. Workshops were such a small nonsense thing to focus on. There’s far worse going on here at the bottom.
In 2009, a well-known casting director registered for a free account on my website and asked if I would promote her online courses for actors. It was like she expected it because she’s a casting director. My service at the time was 2.99 a month. Her courses were far more expensive. She said she got some sales from my mailing list. I did not receive any kickbacks nor was I offered.
In 2011, I was asked to donate my studio to the same casting director so she could coach an actor or something. It might have been a callback audition session. I’m not exactly sure, but that day she asked, “How do you make any money?” then she chuckled. A few months later, she asked if she could use my studio for a 3 night workshop/class. I didn’t get paid nor was I offered any compensation for my space.
There was one more time where I was asked to promote an anti-workshop event where she was the speaker. To my knowledge, she’s never openly taken a side. She did decline to respond to a direct question about being for or against workshops on the day of the event. I spent weeks working on the event so it was successful. A mutual casting director friend who coordinated between us tried to introduce me after the workshop. I guess she’s too important to speak with directly because she hoped on her high horse and rode past me like I was herpes.
At the time, I was living in the studio with my dog. I was broke and dedicated to growing my business. Showering at the gym and eating off the dollar menu was worth getting in good with a casting director. Now she blocks me on Twitter. I’m sure a lot of actors have their own stories. I’ve heard some good ones. There’s really no way around this nonsense.
There could have been some compromise where actors didn't feel ripped off and the workshop facilities could continue to operate their business. I don't think casting director workshops are the worst thing. Both sides have an argument. I don't give a shit about either anymore. Some actors won't pay for workshops out of principal. I guess that makes sense. What if you're pushing fifty and you’ve only been in student films? Student films are great, but you can’t feed your kids and you’re smoking shit weed.
Do the workshop and live your life. The casting director or the workshop company aren't trying to rip you off. They don’t give a shit about you. They care about keeping the lights on, paying their overhead and making sure their Yelp page has good reviews. I’ve been there, so I get it. The people on the other side think it's a scam. Don't take either side. I try to be as open minded as I can these days.
There’s a list of nonsense things people say we need. Headshots, demo reels, actor slates and casting submission services. All this stuff is surface level. I'm not getting headshots with glasses because I don't wear glasses. If you need to see what I look like with glasses, bring a pair to the audition and have us try them on. Don’t ask that I spend money. And do you really need to see me with glasses? Grow up and use your fucking imagination. I won't get headshots with a shirt and tie because that's nonsense. My headshot is my drivers license photo. That's what I look like.
An industry expert will tell you to do something, while another will say something completely different. It’s never really groundbreaking advice either. The professionals you don't hear from are the ones with the advice worth listening to. The ones giving advice usually aren't doing anything other than giving advice to actors that don’t know any better.
How you felt about pursuing a career in entertainment a decade ago, might be different today. It's okay to evolve and think differently. I still feel producing content is the best thing we can do. You might think different. I'm staying focused on what I think and I'm going to support you with what you think is best.
I like acting, but I like running camera and directing too. I'm cool with just a line or two. I'm fine with no lines. I just like making videos. I'm 300 days into a video a day for a year campaign. I started on April 23, 2018. My 40th birthday. The idea was to document the struggles of reopening a business. I’m in the home stretch and giving less and less fucks with each video I shoot.