No, he's not. I agree with Michael in theory. In practice, for now, I'm going with TT's advice.
Research>Target(Shortlist)>Workshops>Meet>Stay in touch.
After checking off my shortlist, there's no need for going. All CDs shortlisted will get my professional mailings, workshops or not. It's like paying for online dating services: it's to try and meet a few and cultivate a relationship... but no expectations of callbacks.
They're obligated to teach us something at workshops. Do we get to provide instructor evaluations at the end
But seriously, I can explain Einstein's Theory of Relativity to an 8 year old who in turn can explain it in simple and clear terms to anyone. If the CD is as knowledgeable as Backstagers, and is someone worth my mailing for film acting, then I'm ok with it.
I think you've misunderstood. The use of personal pronouns doesn't always mean the writer is "signalling moral superiority." My point in this case was this: I've seen many participants in these discussions suggest that it's easy for me to decry the unethical nature of these workshops because I'm already a working actor and therefore "all set." But that isn't true. I'm not. I used references to myself to reassure readers that I too have contacts I'd like to make, plenty of people who don't know me, and plenty of closed doors (for example, I'm hardly ever seen for films).
The decision of whether to attend workshops is a personal one, and I don't have moral judgments about those who do (only about those who run them and those who charge actors for meetings).
I can understand how you might have misread my meaning. But I have a career without workshops, and I feel obligated to encourage my fellow actors to hold themselves in high esteem, even if the business doesn't.
Creator of the "Audition Psych. 101" workshop (www.auditionpsych101.com)
Author of "Letters from Backstage"
I've come full circle on the whole workshop thing. A few years ago I agreed fully with Michael. The "pay to play" thing really turned me off and I saw CD's and the workshop facilities as preying on the aspirations of actors who, for the most part, are struggling to make ends meet. Then I became a union actor thin on credits and representation.
We talk a lot about actors needing to manage their careers as a business. I happen to have an extensive business background so I describe my thinking in those terms. If we approach ourselves as a product, we readily make investments in developing and improving our product through classes. We test market our product by doing ULB and student projects to build a reel. Like any enterprise that product will languish in the warehouse unless we follow that creative development process with a well thought out marketing plan. Once we make it big we can delegate that to our agents, managers, and publicists but for now it is up to us.
In a startup company, marketing dollars have to be spent wisely. It is a waste of money to buy ads in national magazines if we are selling snow shovels. Instead, we identify qualified leads, those who 1)have a current need for our product 2)are in a position to make decisions. If we do a good job in selecting which workshops to attend, that's the most effective use of our limited marketing budgets. Its certainly more effective than sending postcards, doing endless crappy ULB or non union work, or depending on our lower tier agents and managers to get us in the room for auditions.
In summary, develop a great product, qualify your leads, and then go make a sales call.
I don't think the analogy helps your case, because in business it's unethical for salespeople to pay customers directly for sales calls. It's the same issue.
Tomorrow's Super Bowl will be full of buyers being entertained by sellers. So there's that.
Inviting the purchasing manager to play golf at your club is ok. Paying him that $100 in cash is not. I don't see huge distinction there, certainly not enough to summon enough moral outrage to sit on the sidelines while all of the costar roles are going to workshop actors.
That's not even apples to oranges, that's more like apples to a briefcase.
I love it when a smart conversation breaks out in here with opposing ideas supported by reasoned arguments and backed up with personal experience.
Doesn't happen often, but here we have a nice one. Both sides have valid points.
On at least one of those points people on either side of the argument seem to agree; that it is unethical (or even illegal) to charge "actors" for meetings with potential employers. And to wit, in any other line of work such a practice would never exist.
Therefore, "actors" should not buy into such a corrupt and exploitative system for by supporting it they undermine themselves.
Again, it would seem that most people agree on this point, but some ask, "if I don't do workshops how will I ever meet those people who can further my career?"
That is the best question and one which deserves some attention. The answer is in how it USED to be done.
Before there were workshops where anyone with the money can sign up and get an audition, there were actual acting classes (not one-off "intensives" or other such nonsense) where aspiring actors could learn their craft, then there was an ascending network of theatre from small black boxes up to Equity houses to Broadway.
Newbie actors could start at the bottom and WORK their way up, all the while honing their craft and learning the ropes from more experienced actors. Along the way they would make friends and contacts within the professional acting world so that when the time came, let me repeat that part, when the time came and they were READY, they did not have to seek out the people who could further their careers. In fact, quite the reverse was true.
Fast forward to today. People don't want to put in the work to go through the steps. They don't want to "waste time" doing theatre because they won't "get discovered" or "make it big" doing plays.
For a group of people so quick to expound endlessly on their undying love for and need to act they don't seem very willing to go out of their way and, er, ACT. But I digress.
The reason workshops exist is because all these "actors" are looking for a shortcut to the top. They're convinced of their own talent and assured of their own stardom if only they're given a chance to show it. Show it, that is, to someone who "matters". And these 'actors" are quite willing to pay good money for the privilege.
So how to have an acting career without doing "workshops"? Simple; go ACT!
Act anywhere for any audience in any space you can find. Do it constantly. I have friends who are in multiple plays at a time and auditioning for more.
Yes, its hard. Yes, it takes dedication and time. And no, there is no big paycheck or guarantee of "success", but if people love to act as much as they say they do then that should be of little consequence.
Meanwhile, while all the other "actors" are standing in line, money in hand to see some CD or agent those very same CDs and agents may be standing in line waiting to pay to see you. The way it ought to be.
And the reason why the "success" rate for these workshops are so pathetic? Pretty obvious isn't it?
The BEST post I have seen in eons.
I agree 150% with what JJS says.
Immediate gratification has blinded many.
Who wants to work hard anymore? I can go to a boot camp or intensive class. All I need. I have natural talent.
There used to be a thing called 'paying your dues.' And looking back, I'm glad I lived out of that van, doing kids shows at 7am across the us. Why? It taught me how to be a consistent artist. And it taught me how to be grateful when a good gig comes along.
As much as I need work like everyone else, I refuse to 'pay to play.' Let them 'pay' to see me 'play.' Amen
Standing ovation. Period.
Creator of the "Audition Psych. 101" workshop (www.auditionpsych101.com)
Author of "Letters from Backstage"
Great points...for another thread.
The title of this thread was "Which CD's Actually call in workshop attendees?" and not "Let's have a debate about the morality/legality/ethics of workshops so we call all tell everyone something about ourselves."
Another relic of the past is the "general" meeting that CD's would take just to meet actors. There were "drop-offs" where you could put your headshot in the box. I don't think workshops are a substitute for training, I look at them as a replacement for the other opportunities that used to exist. Whether they are honorable, just, scams, or a valid opportunity is up the individual. I happen to like them simply for the opportunity to practice my audition skills in different scenarios. To each their own.
Sometimes conversations evolve...like this one did. Unless you're trying to fail a Turing test, it's okay, you can calm down.
Its a perfectly valid point that he made, and that's where we're at now. People just want the quick fix and don't want to do what they consider "beneath" them, whether its background work, local theater, or whatever. And as long as this mentality exists, so will "pay to play."
At risk of getting verbally beat up by all you big shots, I will say a couple things.
Firstly..thank you for providing an answer to the question I have long posited...'What is the alternative to workshops?' Your answer is....go back to how it used to be. Valid point.
I guess your saying that even though it is highly efficient for CDs to rifle through workshops to meet new actors and consider bringing them in for an audition for the shows they cast.....it does not outweigh the moral question of this being an illegal 'paying for a job interview' scheme.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not for actors being taken advantage of...and I do see how workshop companies have become quite skilled at doing just that. I'm just not sure I fully agree with getting rid of workshops. But it's not totally because of your other point about actors today not wanting to pay their dues like they used to have to.
My perspective is...and I know many hate it...that these workshops are an opportunity to market yourself as an actor...not a job interview as many argue. They may call you in to audition (which is the actual job interview) after getting familiar with what you can do....and they may not. I DO liken it to paying to get your commercial in front of your target market...which businesses do every day. No it wasn't always done that way...but again..you can't deny it's efficiency. As far as actors being true to their love of acting and WANTING to gain the great benefits of paying dues through theater and indie films..learning from more experienced actors..making connections. I wholeheartedly agree with the value in that path. I just think that is not the best path for every actor...and there's nothing wrong with it. There can be circumstances that make some actors feel the workshop 'shortcut' is necessary for them to achieve their goal. The long traditional path isn't for everybody....just sayin.
(release the hounds)
I love conversations where I can see both sides of a coin. When I tried to edit my post it deleted, but JJS - I said I like the way you wrote that. It made great sense to me.
Ironically today on FB, BizParentz Foundation posted a link to a story 10 years ago that 20/20 did about the casting workshops called "Pay to Play"...
That was an interesting video. Thanks for posting it.
Just a quick note before my cough-syrup addled and jet-lagged brain calls it a day;
Merrick (and anybody else) - first off I'm not going to beat you up, verbally or otherwise. And secondly, I would have to become a lot more important to be considered even small potatoes. A big shot I, most certainly, am not.
Lastly, my post wasn't intended to insult anyone if I wanted to do that, believe me, there would be no confusion on the matter. No, I simply wanted to point out that there are other avenues available to people who are serious about pursuing a career as an actor.
Also, the whole thing about doing any and every acting job a person can find when starting out has nothing to do with "paying dues", but rather describes the process generally required to gain the skills needed to compete for jobs.
Look at it another way; most people think they are excellent drivers. In fact, most people are convinced that they are the only ones on the road who know how to drive. They have even gone to school and learned how to drive. They have driven many many miles with no accidents or tickets (at least none that were their fault). Etc.
Are you with me so far?
Now let's take the best driver in the entire Los Angeles area. I mean, the absolutely, positively, greatest driver LA has ever seen. Let's take that person and put them in an F1 car driving against professional race car drivers.
Its the same basic skill set, but chances are they wouldn't even get the car out of the garage, but even if they did manage to get the car on the track they would be so slow, so woefully out of their league, they'd be a danger to even the worst professional driver on the course.
Why? Because even though they can drive a car and drive it well, they just don't have the requisite skills to be at a professional level.
Now if the best driver in all of Los Angeles can't compete with professional drivers what chance does everyone else have?
Do you see the analogy?
It does absolutely no good to get in front of Casting Directors while lacking the skills to compete for the job. Being a decent actor is just not good enough. Being a pretty good actor is just not good enough. Being a great actor is the minimum baseline requirement. And I'm sorry to say, but the vast vast vast majority of people handing over their money to workshops are nowhere near great. Let's be honest, most of them are not even "good". And no amount of "marketing" is going to make up the deficit.
So how does someone become a great actor? Well, that brings us full circle to all that stuff I was talking about before, i.e. getting any and every acting job you can find, learning the ropes, honing your craft, etc.
And to satisfy those who only clicked this thread to find out which CD's will call them in, well that question was already answered pages ago; it's not the CD's, but rather the people who get called in which is important.
If you do not have the skills you will not get called in by anyone, anytime, ever, end of story. This is true regardless of all those copious amounts of "natural talent" or how many times you meet the same CD. To believe otherwise is simply being delusional. To hand over your cash in the hopes of otherwise is being something else (hint; it rhymes with "pucker").
If you don't believe me that's fine, it does not hurt my feelings. But do yourselves a favor and run the numbers. Compare how many people book actual work through workshops. Then compare that number with how many people take workshops. That should give you a rough idea of your chances.
Some people have a system to swing the odds in their favor. Well, my uncle has a system for picking lotto numbers, but after 60 years he still hasn't won a bloody thing.
And finally, I personally don't care one way or the other about the morals surrounding workshops. If people want to do them I say good for you hope it works out, but they should, at least, have their eyes as open as their wallets and realize there are other ways to become an actor.
The views expressed are my own. Some assembly required. Your milage may vary. Now where did I put that cough syrup?
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