Audition Room Betrayal – Unprofessional Casting Directors | Answers for Actors

July 30, 2013 at 10:39 am | Posted in acting, Actors & Agents | Leave a comment
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Paul Russell

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Audition Room Behavior Rule #1: Don’t abuse the actor.

Audition Room Behavior Rule #2: Remember Rule #1.

What happens in an audition between actor and casting (or talent representation) must remain in the audition room and memory. It’s a trust silently known and honored. There have been breaches of that trust by my colleagues behind the audition table. Most notably Twittergate in which a casting director posted negative audition feedback tweets as actors were auditioning. And now, once again the actor’s trust of an auditor’s discretion has been betrayed. The silent sanctity smeared by more online snark.

A popular entertainment trade outlet recently posted online an agent’s commentary on actors met during a paid audition seminar.

“The first actor smelled like ass. I hope this doesn’t become a trend.”

“Why is the reader always the most talented actor in the room?”

“If you’re over 40 and you still don’t have any professional credits, it might be time to rethink your life.”

How is any of this commentary helpful to actors? And how does this improve the already strained perceptions actors have of casting and talent agents as being beyond pompous, rigid, uncaring-for-the-actor self-involved shits?

Granted our business is based on subjectivity. A screenwriter may be enamored by Auditioning Actor A, but the director would rather be locked for a weekend in a bank vault with Vladimir Putin than spend six weeks working with Auditioning Actor A. Those audition room reactions, positive or negative, stay in the audition room and/or are held to memory or shared in private project related conversations.

Now before you interject, “Paul, hello this is the kettle. You’re black” my audition room observations in my book and this blog offer solutions. The agent’s comment about actors over 40 without professional credits ‘need to rethink your life’ only offers actors despair. Would the agent have said such to Jane Lynch who at 43 had her big break come with the mockumentary Best of Show?

Having been someone who was ridiculed in my youth I give careful consideration before relaying any actor job-seeking anecdotes that may embarrass. All examples of missteps that I share (including my own) must come with an offer of a solution or adjustment for improvement and not be utilized for the sake of entertainment or humiliation. The agent’s public vomiting of his audition notes seems to be more for sensationalism to generate webpage hits than it does to providing substantial solutions to success in an actor’s journey.

What happens in the audition room must stay in the audition room so that artists on both sides of the table can prosper in their craft.

My Access to Agents students often ask that I e-mail or post the audition feedback of the agents. I refuse. I’ll read aloud the agent’s feedback directly to the actor in the class setting. After that, the session sheets are secured in a binder on my desk and never shared with strangers.

Paul's book ACTING: Make It Your Business!In my response to Twittergate I wrote:

“Actors deserve better treatment from those behind the audition table. I was once an actor. I have a great empathy for them. I don’t know if you Ms. Eisenberg were once an actor. If so; you should be damned ashamed of how you have treated those who now stand where you once stood. If you never had the displeasure of auditioning consider yourself fortunate that you never had to endure what actors in your audition room experienced this past week.”

To her credit Ms. Eisenberg publicly apologized and has gone on to have a successful career in casting and I wish her continued success.

If the agent who remains a secret in his online articles were named, his/her name would be justly included in that prior quote.

Color me disgusted.

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Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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