Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You Get What You Pay For

First and foremost, thank you to Michael and the rest of Ignite for coming up with and supporting such an interesting project. I’m happy to participate and hopefully will provide some interesting dialogue for the readers to think about and, with any luck, comment on.

With that being said, the whole catalyst to why I am here writing for The Connection Project today is due to me responding to a craigslist ad that Michael posted in the talent section of Chicago. I’ll admit; I may be a little bit of a craigslist addict. I’ve found an apartment, a bike, a job, a band and music equipment all on the website, so it has proven extremely useful for me in the past. So why would I question whether or not craigslist is a viable source to find an acting (or a writing) gig online?

Well, I believe the old saying “You get what you pay for” is very true in this instance.

I believe that the person doing the posting in the talent section has a slight advantage over the whole situation, since the most they are putting on the line is their time. The first line of defense is already set through the wall of the internet. If the casting director who posts the ad gets nothing but sub par responses, they are not required to respond or allow the person who has submitted an audition. It would be quite discouraging to get hundreds of awful responses, but all that is really lost, is time.

Even if there wasn’t an initial screening, there still is not much else on the table to lose, except possibly one’s sanity. We’ve all seen American Idol’s casting specials where the weird, wild and wacky are put on parade in front of the cameras and judges to display just how absolutely horrendous they are at their craft. Well when a show as popular as Idol posts their auditions, they are going to get a wide variety of “talent” showing up at the front door. The same thing will happen to any theater that post their audition notices to the general public, like on craigslist.

The reason I say “you get what you pay for” rings true is because there are so many other outlets for casting that may cost a little cash, but makes the time spent on the project so much more worthwhile. Since craigslist is free, anyone can submit to a post. However, if the theater decides to use reputable talent sources or trade papers such as Actor’s Access and PerformInk, the most reputable arts paper here in Chicago, the talent that submits will be of much better caliber than the general public.

I say this because professional actors and agents use these resources and usually have to pay as well to read or submit to them. I’m not saying that William Hung won’t pay the five bucks to submit to your casting and waste five minutes of your life with his audition, but still, at the end of the day, the casting director still can just say no. Unfortunately, they may never get “She Bangs” out of their head ever again.

I may be biased, but I believe there is much more risk for an actor submitting to a craigslist talent posting than the casting director. I will submit to a variety of projects without all the facts to possibly find something worthwhile. Unfortunately, the multitude of postings rarely holds one that is. A true example I’ll share is when I submitted to someone looking for a tall actor (I’m 6’4” so it was right up my alley) to play a bully and pick on a smaller actor.

That’s all I really knew when I submitted until I received an email back. The response with a description of the role was quite the eye opener. The character was a high school bully who found out his gym teacher had a white sock foot fetish and when he had this information, he lets the teacher smell his socked feet while he made fun of him.

Yes, the project I had just submitted for was a foot fetish/verbal masochism adult film.

Imagine if I had only received a letter telling me my audition time, location and that it would be a cold reading? It’s postings like this along with the other scams that dilute the credibility of many postings in the talent section. I can’t say that they are all scams since I responded to a Goodman Theatre project (one of the top theatres in Chicago) that posted on craigslist for someone able to play Johnny Cash (a dream role for me). Yet the problem still remains that the protective shield that the poster has does not always exist for the one responding.

I would much rather spend the two dollar submission fee for each role I find on Actor’s Access and only receive one audition call then go one ten adult film calls. The quality and, most importantly, the security of the project will be much higher.

After all that has been said, I will still scour craigslist for solid postings like the Johnny Cash since they do exist and may be out there, but I do know that I have to be careful when making the final move. Hell, if I didn’t look at the talent section, I wouldn’t have responded to Michael and you readers wouldn’t be reading this article on Ignite’s blog today.

What do you think Michael?


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