My new mantra when questioning whether I should attend a CD workshop.
What a great thread. Sgt. Hulka, your mantra should be every actor's mantra, something to live by. What that casting director probably said (sorry Kostroff but I've heard it a hundred times and I want to correct you on the lingo)
is this: "You can throw that headshot out. He's a workshop actor
." That's embarrassing.
When I did workshops 20 years ago (before I saw the light and recognized what workshops really were), I used to hear that phrase all the time, on panels and in showcases where casting people would be paid. Workshop owners would say to me "What are you working on?" and if I was between jobs, they'd ask me to make things up. And when I was casting something, they would ask me to bring their actors in - even if I didn't think they were exactly right - just to keep the scheme going. And most CDs I saw at these events weren't working at the time, which is exactly the reason they were doing workshops.
Here are a few facts to enlighten those who posted the questions earlier in the thread:
◊ A few years ago, DoNotPay.org did an exhaustive study as to how many jobs actors booked from workshops. We wanted to know the percentage of jobs booked by actors from attending workshops. The answer? 1.6%. That's right, less than 2% of all actors who attended workshops booked jobs, and usually U5 or co-star - or less We couldn't believe it, so we did another completely separate study. Same result. We have continued to check the numbers as the years have gone by, and they've remained consistent.
Your odds of booking work by NOT
doing workshops are about the same.
◊ Some casting associates make thousands each month doing workshops. Jamie Castro (Grey's Anatomy, Scandal), for example, does as many as a dozen workshops in a month. The typical fee that casting directors are paid is $300 - $350. You do the math. Unless of course, you're Scott David, who I have been told makes as much as $750 per workshop. Actors pay up to $70 a ticket to take his workshop. Add to that the fact that he now owns his own workshop enterprise called Actors Link - both here and now in Florida, paying other casting directors to meet actors - as well as the Actors Link annex he has set up at a Argentum . He also sells an app on iTunes, and advertises ALL of these products to all those who take his workshop. Setting up his retirement fund?
These are just two casting directors, but there are currently over 100 assistants and associates cashing in on the workshop scheme. The casting workshop industry rakes in multimillions each year, every penny, by the way, paid by actors.
There are no alternatives to speak of right now. That's because the workshops, as you all have noted here, have become the defacto brokers to access to the casting offices of Hollywood. The chilling effect on any other free way to be seen is pretty obvious. What is the financial incentive for a casting professional to go see a play or attend a university drama graduating showcase when they can get paid hundreds to see 20 actors in a workshop? Why would a casting assistant bother to do general interviews (there are actually actors I meet who have no idea what that phrase means) when they get paid to do "one-on-one" interviews in a workshop?
The way to make the problem stop is to stop the problem. Stop believing the hype of a handful of exaggerated success stories and STOP paying a casting assistant's rent for a chance at a chance - when you can barely pay your own. In 2013, because so many actors have decided to take their power back, and invest in themselves, and develop their own projects instead of paying for access to a casting clerk, many workshops have closed their doors. House of Actors, Actors Syndicate, Dominion Entertainment...all gone. Others I know for a fact are almost done, either because they are not attracting the actors in the numbers they need to stay open, or because the law is taking a closer look at the way they're operating. I'm looking forward to the looming "perp-walk". Having cast 140 episodes of America's Most Wanted
over the past 21 years, I've seen it before.
It's a matter of time, but there will be alternatives. Casting directors will always need actors and will find them whether they pay or not.
Keep your head up, take your power back, create your own opportunities, and don't play the workshop game if you can avoid it. Take the hundreds or thousands you'll save and invest in yourself. Start that production company. Finish that script. Buy a new camera. Study with that teacher you've always dreamed about.
The world is your oyster. Stop giving the pearl away.