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  1. Sandra Tauzin
    July 19, 2016 @ 2:36 PM

    Hello Ajarae,

    My feelings are somewhat mixed on the subject of actor workshops. A participant should leave a workshop with the feeling that they have learned something and are better off for having invested their time and/or money. There should be educational value. From what I have seen and experienced, what is being sold is essentially the same packet with a different spokesperson. Moreover, it almost sounds as if the true argument is this: Actors are being charged for a service that has absolutely no guarantee on a returned investment; in other words, individuals are being charged for “chasing a dream”. In my opinion, someone is on a mission to stop or at least hinder this practice.


  2. Angella
    July 19, 2016 @ 5:43 PM

    Good article have had great experience! Am very selective & so don’t invest often but when I do it usually is positive
    Your site & comments are always professional & worthwhile


  3. Daniel
    July 19, 2016 @ 6:08 PM

    You say actors “need” workshops. If workshops went away, wouldn’t casting directors still “need” actors? Wouldn’t they just need to find another way to meet actors, ideally not on actors’ dimes?

    And wouldn’t actors still be able to take other classes, including truly educational classes from casting directors, to fill the educational void left by the 2-minute “thank you” kind of workshop?


    • Stephen Salamunovich CSA
      July 28, 2016 @ 7:28 PM

      Daniel, those who say that actors “need” the workshops are like beings who have suddenly sprung from the forehead of Zeuss, fully formed as authorities, completely bereft of the benefit of experience and knowledge of history that preceded them. For years, casting directors did indeed go out and meet with actors fit free as a regular course of doing business the same way a real estate agent bird-dogs out homes to suggest to their clients.

      This is just a new spin on the old casting couch except they’re exchanging cash instead of sex. Workshop owners take the place of the pimps by lining up the meet and collect the cash. a few days after the workshop, the casting offices supply a walk-on or an “under 5” to someone from the workshop on the show on which that casting person works. And the word goes out by word of mouth, the same way a massage parlor that supplies “happy endings” gets THEIR clientele without actually “advertising.” When people think they’ve invented the wheel, it’s usually because they didn’t know about the one that came before. Casting directors will have to go back to meeting actors for free if and when these things dry up. Just like we did for decades after the casting couches disappeared. But they’re hardly “necessary!”


  4. Joanne
    July 21, 2016 @ 3:16 PM

    Great Post! Let me add that THR blocked me from posting after I posted a positive comment on workshops. So they obviously aren’t up for free speak.


  5. Stephen Salamunovich CSA
    July 22, 2016 @ 2:44 PM

    Nobody with any sense should rightly have a problem with a casting director legitimately teaching a class. But only as long as it’s held as separate from other available avenues to meet and read for casting directors in the course of their work AS casting directors. When a casting director casts, it should be a separate endeavor than when a casting director teaches. It’s the part where they mix that poses the problems we’re seeing. So here’s the part that the advocates of the workshops aren’t getting as to why this situation is problematic. And this should really be very simple to understand but for some reason, it’s not. The fact is that it’s a REQUIREMENT for an actor to meet casting directors and to make them aware of their abilities in order to pursue work. PERIOD! Just like having to have a headshot, it’s NOT optional. And EVERYBODY knows this! When casting people fully understand this and then knowingly restrict access to ONLY the paid meetings that happen in “workshops,” they’re engaging in a monopoly and using that monopoly to get cash for something that should be free to the actor. Because this dirty little secret is hidden behind the “beard” that’s presented in the appearance of a teaching situation, doesn’t make it any less of a monopoly. The Sherman Anti-Trust laws were instituted when companies did the same thing and restricted things like food and other necessary items and services to only those who paid the price they could set without reasonable competition in an unfair hegemony. The fact that a casting director may not set an exorbitant rate to meet them, doesn’t make it any less of a monopoly when they are a gatekeeper of the work the actors want to access through the only avenue now available to them. An avenue otherwise restricted by the casting director who allows no other ethical and free means for actors to meet them because they’re now supposedly “too busy.” Because this practice has been allowed to flourish unopposed for the last 20-something years, a whole generation of casting directors have come up under it and they now consider it “business as usual!” But for those of us who remember the days when this would have been absolutely and unequivocally unethical, it’s an obvious conflict of interest. When I last discussed this situation with Joe Reich one of the three founders of the Casting Society of America, he too lamented what had become of the ethics of our profession when this scourge took root as the now de facto way for CD’s to meet actors and vice versa. And to establish a higher standard of ethics, artistry and professionalism were the very reason he and Mike Fenton and Al Onorato started the organization in the first place. 

    What makes it even worse, is that it’s just as much of a requirement of casting directors to meet actors as it is for them to meet us! When we go to compete with each other for projects, we discuss our ideas for casting strategies on various actors, whether to cast “names” or unknowns in certain roles, who to cast as “first into the boat” and why and whether or not we have a good feel for the actors out there who might be off the beaten path. Actors the director wouldn’t know about unless they hired a casting director who had gone out and “bird-dogged” them out in some small play or showcase or even a general interview. That’s why you sometimes heard casting directors in the old days brag about having “discovered” someone. They were talking about just basically doing their jobs and hitting the bricks and finding talented actors! A job for which we’re already paid by our clients and which is required of us. Charging the actors as well is “double-dipping.” 

    Engaging in the illusion that serious teaching and learning is going on at these workshops is just that! Illusion! A casual perusal of the comments posted on the webpages of many of the workshop’s websites, speak not about the great “breakthroughs” or learning opportunities they had. They speak solidly about the caliber of the CD’s they were able to meet and the cache’ and number of the shows and movies they cast. Regardless of what the workshops present as a “teaching experience,” access is what they’re really selling and everyone knows it. Especially the actors who pony up! Some workshops presenting CD’s even list the movies and shows they’re ABOUT to cast in clear violation of the CSA Workshop Guidelines! And this isn’t by accident as it’s the REAL bait that gets the actors to sign up and workshop owners and CD’s know this. When Scott David lost his job on “Criminal Minds” and actors were upset and started a social media campaign to get him re-instated, they boldly endorsed him not by saying what a great teacher he was or how much they learned from him. They endorsed him by saying how “ethical” he was about following through on HIS part of the bargain by giving jobs and auditions to the actors who paid to take his workshops!! They must have thought this was in some way “helping” him! But I doubt it gave the producers of “Criminal Minds” pause to think they had made a mistake in thinking that the actors that he was bringing to them were the only the best of those who were willing to pay to meet him as opposed to the best actors he could find.

    No one who opposes the workshop “pay to meet” scams is opposed to casting directors actually and legitimately teaching! What we’re interested in is a separation of “church and state” so that things go back to the way they were AFTER the casting couch was exposed and eradicated….. and before the workshop scams took hold. Free general interviews and attendance at plays and showcases or even sitting around and spending time watching self-tapes submitted by trained but unrepresented and unknown talent. Things that CD’s and associates now say are things for which they no longer have the time! I suggest that they can find that time by abstaining from doing a couple of workshops each week and hitting the bricks “old school” by being available for free general interviews and seeing work out of the office. When they ethically grant free access to the actors to meet them? Then they can teach all they want! But then a minimally-experienced associate has to find a way to compete with serious acting teachers out there when actors are now paying for actual learning instead of just access. If they can compete in that head to head kind of meritocracy? Then great! More power to them!

    I teach a two-day workshop that supplies a syllabus, provides over an hour’s worth of video of each participant with multiple takes and re-directs in front of the class. It’s limited to 10 participants to maximize the value to them and requires an enormous amount of energy on the part of the students and myself. But even more importantly, I post the following disclaimer in BOLD, highlighted letters right on the class website and on the enrollment form so there’s no question about whether you’re paying for a class or to meet me: “”DISCLAIMER!! This seminar is for actors who are serious about breaking through barriers and improving their audition technique. If you are considering this workshop because you would like to better acquaint me with your work, I would instead encourage you to contact me for a general interview which I do free of charge as my schedule permits.”
So if you take this class and pay to meet me in the course of my work as a casting director, you’re a fool! But if I restrict access to meeting me only to the class and you pay for it? Then you’re a victim of extortion. And it’s that simple! 

    Casting directors and the CSA can try all they want to ““seek to preserve and enhance the educational value of casting workshops” …as stated in the press release of the CSA’s Workshop Committee. But as long as casting directors restrict access to meeting them to ONLY the paid workshops, they’re going to be dogged by a beast of their own creation by extorting money from actors for something that’s a necessary requirement for BOTH CD’s and actors.


  6. Kate Torri
    July 25, 2016 @ 11:23 AM

    Is there an actual case pending to halt workshops? And if so, who do we contact to have our voices heard?? Loves workshops


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