Fear and uncertainty prevail in the casting workshop industry after yesterday’s article from Variety announcing that charges have been filed against 25 people for charging aspiring actors for auditions. Let’s be clear. Workshops are still legal. The major problem is that casting directors, even those who are following the law, are terrified they will be targeted if they continue to teach workshops. I understand this completely. Even if the charges do not hold up, they will cause huge amounts of stress, legal fees, and wasted time. Worst of all, they can potentially damage reputations. It’s just not worth it for most casting directors in Los Angeles to continue to teach workshops right now.
I am skeptical about the veracity of the charges in this particular “investigation.” I’ve had personal conversations with some of the individuals who were charged, and I know how careful they are about adhering to the law and even the CSA Guidelines. I’ve seen the disclaimers and contracts they use. I also know this “investigation” was spearheaded a while ago by individuals with an agenda of ending paid casting workshops… including the lawful, educational ones (even though they will ardently deny this agenda). Read my open letter on Deadline on this topic. So while I would like to believe that this investigation was carried out with the best interests of actors in mind, I am worried that may not be the case.
Ask yourself why these 25 people were singled out among all the teachers of workshops and owners of workshop studios. Did all of those casting directors claim the workshop was an audition? Really? Something smells fishy. I will reserve judgement until the accused have their day in court, and I encourage you to do the same. I can’t wait to hear about this undercover actor’s experiences. If he or she was really charged for an audition, then I support these indictments. But my heart goes out to these people if they have been falsely accused to make an example of them and scare other casting directors who teach workshops. Right now, it appears that following the law may not protect you from having charges brought against you, and that is truly terrifying.
Don’t get me wrong. I fully support the prosecution of scam artists who take advantage of actors. Part of the reason I created WorkshopGuru.com was so that actors could more easily share information about casting directors who were teaching crappy classes (no info, no feedback, poor attitude toward actors, etc.), and so actors could easily compare workshop studios and find the ones with the best prices and best customer service. I believe education is one of the best defenses against being taken advantage of, hence the weekly #GuruTips for Actors video series.
Unfortunately, there are LOTS of scams being perpetrated out there against actors. I’m just not sure this is one of them.
A commenter on the related article in Deadline Hollywood made some good points from an actor’s perspective:
Also check out an article from KPCC, one of the news outlets who has published a response from one of the workshop studios and even an actor who values workshops.
We will see how this plays out in court. Meanwhile, WorkshopGuru.com will continue to publish up-to-date information on what workshops and classes are happening, and which have been cancelled. You can also find schedules of workshops and showcases with agents and managers. Now, more than ever, it is important to anonymously share your workshop experiences by writing a review on the site. If you’ve had a negative experience in a workshop, share your story with the community in a safe space. If you’ve had a positive experience in a workshop, post that as well. We all benefit when we look out for one another and share information.
Check out our Workshop Survival Guide for ideas on what to do to stay proactive and engaged during this (hopefully temporary) reduction in the availability of casting workshops.
Wishing you all the best,