An open letter to all talent in Seattle and the entire Northwest

Mar 5, 2015 | Uncategorized, Extras Casting, Training Bits, Principal Character Casting

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“HOLE IN THE BUCKET DEAR LIZA”. Un-monitored callboards and lists soliciting your services. Actors will do almost anything for almost nothing… and it is a pity.

Unmonitored sites posting acting opportunities are driving the ‘industry standard’ into the ground. Budget conscience clients, passionate yet a little too eager actors and a race to the bottom leave no winners except for these budget conscience clients.

Knowledge is Power and you are being duped.  Performers Callboard, Craigslist, NWfilm forum, and others are taking money from you, your future self and your actor friends.   You’ve heard that industry standards are getting lower and lower right… well this is how it is happening.

First, understand that there are two major dynamics at work when it comes to talent compensation …  money and usage.  The money is either inline with the usage or it’s not.  On many callboard postings it is not… and by a significant margin. ‘Usage’ can basically be defined by getting answers to “where and for how long.”  Will the usage be 13-week cycles or 6 months or longer?  Where/how will the project be used, commercial (local, regional, national, global), industrial video (internal or for public consumption), online/new media (specific website or all over the web), film, others.

Of course, we understand budgets, and there are times when these boards are perfectly fine. It’s fine if a student film or PSA (Public Service Announcement) or some other small project comes along and seeks talent that are looking to enhance their skills.  That is, in a sense, tuition for an under experienced actor. The problem comes when they are used for “commercial” endeavors. Commercial meaning a company that is looking to create a project to sell/inform about a product or service.  Often, you’ll also notice that the clients are not so quick to post what their product or service is. Other red flags to look for are use of the words buyout or flat rate and/or a general silence when it comes to usage rights. Know that the idea you are getting ‘credit’ or ‘exposure’ is ‘hooey.’  Credit and exposure are not a form of compensation. Exposure can, in fact, eliminate you from consideration on some projects.

A hopeful actor will see the post and willingly submit themselves for a number of reasons; perhaps it’s in hopes of satisfying their ‘dream’ of becoming an actor, or they are looking to build their resume or they think it will be fun. Whatever the case, they are ignorantly and blindly accepting work that should be paying them more, perhaps should being paying them residuals and is quite likely costing some other actor, as they are forced to now accept gigs at lower rates while giving away more usage rights.

Basically we’re seeing talent “Selling out”; but, honestly, it’s closer to “Volunteering OUT”. Lower rates for every actor and greater usage rights give-a-ways for every actor.  That’s why you see projects that pay just a few hundred dollars.

Call to action.  The only way to really create static against these projects and such boards is to educate and continue to educate.  A discussion needs to take place among talent so that they can become better educated and learn not to participate in commercial projects that are being presented to them in unmonitored forums.

Please share this note with other actors, Please share this note with educators and trainers, please share this note with clients, please share this note with casting directors and agents and managers…  and consider posting this note to unmonitored sites whenever you see a project that appears to be a “C-POT” (Client, Preying On Talent).

We love this community and in order to make it work, we all need to have each other’s back.

Gordon Adams, Big Fish NW Talent. An optimistic guy, passionate about getting a good deal for talent.

Big Fish NW Talent Representation