This week, casting director workshops are in the news. The LA City Attorney served five major casting firms, and twenty-five individuals, with criminal charges in a pay-for-play violation of the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act.
Los Angeles is the center of the entertainment industry, and the state of California has the toughest laws in the country designed to protect performers.Los Angeles is the center of the entertainment industry, and the state of California has the toughest laws in the country designed to protect performers. Click To Tweet
The basic premise of the Krekorian Act is that it is illegal to charge performers for an audition, or to charge an advanced fee for representation. Workshops run by casting directors run along a fine line here, as they are supposed to be educational, but often imply either directly or indirectly that the casting director will be considering participants for employment—or that participants will be favored in future casting.
If the workshop really IS an audition, it must be free. If it’s not free, it CAN’T be an audition. Period. When the distinction is murky, actors are taken advantage of and casting directors are breaking the law.
The language of the Krekorian Act makes clear how casting directors can stay on the right side of the law and conduct legal, above-board workshops. This includes being very careful not to imply that workshops are auditions in any way, or “pre-reads,” or any advantage in future employment.
It means conducting the workshop so that it does not resemble an audition in its structure—in other words, the workshop should not be essentially actors delivering monologues or scenes with basic critique from the CD and little else in the way of teaching. There need to be clear educational elements besides critique.
The Casting Director is not allowed, under this law, to keep any materials from the actors who participate—this means no headshots, resumes, links to websites, reels, etc. This is meant to underscore that the event is educational—NOT a special paid opportunity for consideration of employment.
One caveat to this rule:
“No sooner than 24 hours after the workshop is completed, the CD/CA may request the workshop provide the contact information (name, phone number, e-mail, agent/manager) of a student/actor on an individual basis. However, this may not include a headshot, resume, profile or other promotional information. Also, the CD/CA and workshop may not publicize this to the class at any time. “
So—yes—casting directors who see an actor that they want to contact for an audition can legally do so after 24 hours have passed following the end of the workshop, but this possibility cannot be part of the promotion of the workshop, as it is only a possibility, and its implication would be a direct violation of the law.
There is more to the law and it includes the requirement of the workshop posting a bond with the state labor commissioner, as well as other rules around what kind of materials the casting director can and cannot use. For example, if the CD uses sides from a show they are currently casting, the sides must be for roles that have already been cast, to avoi the appearance that this is a legit casting opportunity.
To read the entire law, see this link: Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act.
I’m a fan of genuine, educational workshops with casting directors—when done right, they can deliver incredible value and insight for an actor into the casting process. Workshops can improve an actor’s odds of delivering a great audition that lands them a role. Great casting directors enjoy teaching actors how to improve their approaches to auditions and demystifying the process. They like to see talented actors succeed.
However, as an advocate for young actors, I am happy to see the city of Los Angeles cracking down and enforcing a law that too many people—some of them very successful and well-known—have been violating in order to make money at the expense of hopeful artists looking for a way in. A law is only as effective as its enforcement.
LA Mayor Garcetti and City Attorney Mike Feuer have made it clear that they intend to continue to investigate and prosecute any instances of pay-for-play in the industry, and they have the backing of the Casting Society of America (CSA). This is good news for actors and their families.
For actors outside of California, you should know that this law only applies in the state. Outside of California, implying pay-for play may be technically legal but it is highly questionable morally.
The fact that casting director workshops outside of California can legally imply that participants have an edge with the casting director is very troubling, and actors should know that if they spend money to attend a workshop with a casting director, they are paying for an educational experience only. Casting opportunities cannot be bought.
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