Why I Said “No” To A Certain Audition and Why I Think You Should Too

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Last week, my agent (who I love) sent me an email for an upcoming audition. Like you, I love getting those C-Mail notifications and immediately opened it.

It was for a film that’s to be shot under the SAG-AFTRA New Media Ultra-Low Budget rules. Which means no pay. I have my own thoughts about actors not getting paid for their work but regardless of my feelings on that, I was still going to audition. The more you audition, the better you’ll be.

I read a bit further.

This is going to be the “FIRST EVER live-streamed, crowd-sourced feature film!,” it said.

What the hell does that mean? I continued to read:

We are LIVE STREAMING our entire production process, INCLUDING THE CASTING SESSIONS FOR PRODUCERS AND DIRECTOR (NOT THE PREREAD SESSIONS). This is the FIRST EVER live behind the scenes, sponsor supported project. In just the first 4 hours of streaming, the project had roughly 150,000 live views, is a featured stream on Stickam.com and has been #1 on the site’s Social channel weekly.

Actors who audition (and who book roles) will be part of this live concept, so we are looking for people who want to be on the cutting edge of new media and are comfortable in front of a live audience. We want to stress that we have no intentions to exploit anyone. This is a legitimately serious casting call for a REAL feature film. The audience will be giving feedback, but our director and producers will be filtering that feedback and I will be controlling the casting session.

So, if I’m to understand correctly, I go in to audition. That audition is then broadcast all over the internet for any schmoe to watch, comment on and critique?

Thank you, no.

Auditioning can be stressful enough. I don’t care who you are or who you’re reading for. It’s stressful. You put time and energy into the audition. You want to do your best and most likely, you will. Sure, you’ll have good days and bad, but hopefully for most of us out there the good will always outweigh the bad. But once that Casting Director invites you into the room, your heart will start beating a bit faster.

We understand that. So do Casting Directors, Producers, Directors, Agents and anyone else involved in this business.

Will Larry from Bakersfield understand that?

Do I want Larry from Bakersfield giving feedback on that audition? Why would I want to subject myself to Larry from Bakersfield’s feedback? And who is he to say whether I am good enough to get a part too?

Does Larry want me to go into his place of work and critique him? Probably not. I’m sorry, they’re calling it ‘feedback.’ But for some reason, with actors, this is deemed ‘ok.”

Who the hell is Larry from Bakersfield anyway?

I want professionals giving feedback on my work. I’ve studied far too long and spent a lot of time and money on my career and I’m not about to have my work crowd-sourced. I’m not about to have someone who’s favorite shows are NCIS, Two Broke Girls or Toddlers & Tiaras tell me whether I’m a good or bad actor.

And you shouldn’t either. Especially for unpaid work.

I’m cool with live-streaming auditions, don’t get me wrong. They do that for commercial casting all the time. I once had an audition and the director was watching me from a couch in New Zealand.

But no way in hell do I want my audition put online and crowd-sourced. No way in hell.

And they also write that it’s sponsored. So, as I audition and my face is on their live-stream site they are getting paid?

Look, I’m all for people wanting to fund their dream project and I’m all for creative ways for that to happen. But this isn’t they way.

No thank you.  

11 Comments

  1. Marc Comstock via Facebook

    May 7, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    You are DEAD ON on this one. Good for you.

  2. Jim McCaffree via Facebook

    May 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I always get suspicious when they really try hard to convince you it’s a legit project, especially when the word “real” is in all caps.

  3. Goldie Chan via Facebook

    May 7, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Haha, on the producing end – I understand the impulse, but I care about my actors so I wouldn’t do this unless there was a really good reason sans LOOK LIVESTREAMING! IT’S SO NEW AND NIFTY!

  4. Oliver Oertel via Facebook

    May 7, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    The disregard for the professionalism of artists is at an all-time high, isn’t it?

  5. Jesse James via Facebook

    May 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    i have some great advice,,,if you can, financially and all, afford to be selective it is important that what you sign up for coincides with your goals because that is what you become…now i sound like a fortune-teller…
    2 seconds

  6. Thomas Garner via Facebook

    May 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Honestly, I don’t care who sees me audition. The performance I give to a Casting Director or in a Producer Session or in front of 3 cameras and a live audience is the same. I came from Theater. Bring it on!!! The only difference I see is the amount of people watching. Honestly, I don’t mind Larry’s (from Bakersfield) opinion for he is the real audience. Even if he is less educated. I have met Casting Associates and Casting Directors that I think clearly know a lot less than Larry. The part that kills me is that they are “sponsored” and it is broadcast – AND THEY WON’T PAY YOU? Thanks new SAG-AFTRA Union for the next lower step of my career sodomy. Oh, and the continued non-support AND for raising my Union Dues… UGH! Time to load the gun yet?

  7. Thurman Dalrymple via Facebook

    May 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    I’m with you Lance, this sounds like a nightmare. It’s a setup for a new reality venue that’s searching for train wrecks during their auditions, similar to the first few weeks of American Idol.

  8. Thomas Murphy via Facebook

    May 7, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Absolutely…say you blow the audition: the whole WORLD could see it…what then?

  9. Maddie Paige via Facebook

    May 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Good call. From a producers perspective I could see it. I guess. But really, 150,000 views online doesn’t get you much in revenues – sponsors or otherwise. Certainly not enough to fund a production. Hence the “no pay” provision. So it’s not a revenue issue. Period. But as a director, this stinks. It disrespects the craft, the business, the actor and, IMO, creates unnecessary barriers to the closeness and trust I’d need to establish and maintain with my actors. I can’t imagine sitting there “in on the joke” and later having to establish that deep trust the actor needs to have in me during the work.

  10. Daily Actor via Facebook

    May 8, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Such great comments! You guys rock

  11. Mark Gilvary

    July 6, 2012 at 8:26 am

    F****N’ A!!! …
    … By The Way Buddy … Fire Your Agent!!!

    Good Luck!

    M.G.

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