The Help Actors Get

Recently I went to a social network page devoted to “helping” actors and read the posts. The moderator is in casting and says he started the discussion page to help actors. So I read a post that was designed to help actors by letting them know what bad habits were hurting them. I saw him as trying to be constructive but his final comment held an all-to-familiar threat.

Here it is:

“Casting directors, in particular, have great memories. I remember the actor that auditioned for me years ago that was unprofessional and wasted my time and I have denied them recent auditions. On the flip side I remember the actor that impressed me so much that I brought them back in and cast them in a film. “

I posted a comment back saying that stated purpose of the forum was advice to help the actor world grow and get better (he even suggested a book they should read, because it helped him) yet he makes this statement at the end of a long posting that says “Make a mistake today, and be ignored by me forever.” Ouch. The lesson felt like a threat. This is a discussion forum, right?

I also offered my book as a good option as long as he was suggesting books.

He emailed me privately to say he was removing my comment because advertising my book was inappropriate and he didn’t like my “public judgements” about him, as I didn’t know him or the situation he was referring to. Well, he didn’t spell out the situation did he? I wonder why? What are actors left to glean from that paragraph?

This is the stuff to be on the look out for. Here is a working casting director, he’s very upfront about his many projects, the size and influence of his online social group, and his constant search for you, the talent. He develops a “forum to help actors” but when, in the discussion, an actor says “you talk about growing yet you warn us all that you’ll ignore us should we make a mistake. And not just for a while, forever!”, he takes it personally and removes my posting.

Welcome to the accepted perception. The biz side of our world is allowed to learn from their mistakes, take seminars, read self-help books to grow and become better people in their community. Actors are not. We are lazy and arrogant and don’t simply have bad days, we purposely heave our bitterness at the world around us and we will never change. So, if we get blacklisted by a casting director, we brought it on ourselves.

How do I know this perception is true? Especially about the casting guy in question? By the way he responded to me. You know he looked me up on IMDB. You know he saw that I’ve been at this longer than he has, but he still stands his ground that I’m wrong and he’s right. He doesn’t clear it up or even discuss it with me. He doesn’t post his and my comments for the group to see, he takes me aside and says “you’re out!”

There is no discussion on this forum. This is just another place where the actor is made to sit at the feet of the wizard and hope not to lose his favor. He is clearly reinforcing the mind set that the biz side is right, because they hold the power to sign checks. Actors need only to listen and learn. Never challenge. Never call out bad behavior. Never discuss. In my book the Nightmares chapter gives examples of times actors should have thrown punches in the room they were treated so badly. But alas, we do not, because we know that we would only be blamed and black listed for standing up for ourselves. Here is an actors help discussion forum where even the discussion of discussion is too threatening.

“…the actor that auditioned for me years ago…” Years!? We actors are not capable of developing new, good, habits over years? The advice he’s giving you in a backhanded way is to always be prepared and do your best work, always. Which is great advice. I just wish it didn’t come as a threat.

Take it to heart there are many Casting Directors and if you impress them, even if you are not booking the jobs every time, they will let other casting folks know you are doing great work. Word will spread and this same guy who uses you as an example in his discussion group, will excitedly bring you in (with your “new” reputation) if he thinks it will make him look good with his boss. Which is smart, because that’s his job. If the chip stays on his shoulder and he denies you auditions despite this new information, then he’s just not good at his job and will soon be casting things you won’t want to do anyway.

You simply have to know that mistakes are made, so, kick yourself for a minute, then get on with learning from it. Strive to make better moves and do better work every time, and you become impervious to “advice” like this from casting.

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