Identifying Fake Casting Agents and Fake Auditions
Not too long ago, many aspirants turned up to audition for MTV Roadies X2 following a fake ad. In 2013, three people were arrested for being involved in more than 12 cases of cheating. They fled with the laptops, phones and other belonging of dancers who were called for auditions at a hotel in Connaught Place.
Have you ever wondered how casting agents work once they have shortlisted you to audition with them for a specific role?
They are supposed to scout (find) you out, conduct the audition, select you and pass your credentials on to their clients (studios, production houses, the casting directors and filmmakers in question).
And how are they paid? When you get a paid acting job through them, they earn their commission from their clients. Have you come across agents who have asked you to pay upfront a ‘fees’ before auditioning for a role? Many such casting agencies or agents will claim to fetch you a plum acting role if you pay them – does it even make any sense to you? YOU are the one who is seeking the job; YOU should be the one getting paid…not them!
Listed below are the major red flags that you want to watch out for before putting everything – your money, your honour and your dreams on stake just for one audition that may neither sound nor seem genuine. Here, at audience-connect we ensure not to list any audition that seems unscrupulous and questionable.
1. Be wary of casting agents who seek any kind of payment upfront or otherwise for an audition.
They are out there only to evaluate how deep your pocket is –not your acting skills. They may initially try to win you over with showering fake praises on you, as though YOU were born to do the role. Some might kick in their sales pitch then itself for a ‘prescreening’. Others will wait till they have called you back for a second or third ‘audition’ after you ‘cleared’ their supposed prescreening. They may try to sell you just about everything under the roof- their ‘in-house photo sessions’, portfolio management, online features, ‘acting classes’ and many more. Legit and reputed casting agents will almost NEVER charge you for anything till they get you the role. Once, they have booked work for you, their clients will pay them on a commission basis. Stay away from agents pitching in their ‘packages’ to unassuming newcomers.
2.. Watch out for misleading audition notices on the internet, TV or in classifieds.
You may come across tons of audition adverts laying down requirements like ‘any age from 5-35 or 15-55’, ‘new faces welcome’ or ‘ no previous experience required’ –pretty tempting…but hold your enthusiasm. That is about everyone in the population. Remember, any first-timer is a ‘new face’ and there could be thousands of them. ‘No experience needed’? Really? Why would an aspirant land an acting role if he hasn’t acted before in at least some commercial capacity? Such casting agents are not talent seekers –they are only and only scammers.
3. Run from auditions where you are required to disrobe or get intimate unexpectedly.
A plot that genuinely demands some amount of skin show or physical intimacy must always include this clause in their first casting notice. A good character description with such demands will break down these requirements in the notice. Otherwise, it will surely be mentioned somewhere in the casting call. Else, refrain from shedding clothes at the snap of a finger. Also keep any provocative photographs of yourself out of their reach. Think of the ways in which such pictures could be misused .A genuine audition will only require your head shot, a full shot in a smart outfit and a good resume. If you are already in a murky situation, stand firm- do not give in to aggression, assertion or sexual advances – just leave with your dignity intact. Genuine demands of intimacy and skin show do not show up till the third or fourth call back audition or sometimes, till you have given your consent and are on the actual sets ready to act it out.
Also, skip any auditions on webcams or Skype. It has happened innumerable times especially with desperate female actresses that their images or acts on the webcam have been morphed and splashed unethically for pornographic purposes.
4. Avoid anyone who ‘discovers’ you at a mall or any other public places.
You may be given stories by casting agents about how they discovered a relatively unknown youngster who they transformed into a superstar. Don’t buy it! Most reputed casting agents, production houses and movie makers don’t work that way. These ‘seekers of talent’ at malls could merely be gold diggers or even pimps in disguise. With their aid you’ll end up nowhere but in a few c-grade sleazy flicks or even worse, in flesh trade! There are predators everywhere trying to lure an unassuming aspirant in the pretext of an audition.
5. Avoid auditioning through any agency that operates through Facebook or other social platforms without having an operational website of its own.
Such agencies are outrightly dubious. They might grab a few details of a big upcoming project and build up a fake casting call on that premise to make it sound real. They may even include a temporary cell phone number, a whatsapp number and a suspicious email id with a questionable url to make it look authentic. Applicants on such websites have claimed that these websites lift excerpts from old but authentic casting notices of projects that never took off or got shelved, and make it look current. They go to the extent of posting fake posters and pictures of an upcoming audition without posting any other details regarding the audition. This is especially true of new seasons of reality shows on TV. It is always advisable to apply directly for a reality show through the parent TV channel’s website.
Other things you could do to prevent from being victimized by fakers include doing a thorough research about the project you are applying for. Google the details out. Legit auditions will always show up as one of your top searches and will lay out the details. The conducting agency/agent, the location, the venue, the kind of project being handled (whether a feature or short film, a TV show, a modeling assignment),a character sketch, the specific requirements and expectations for the role, details of the production team involved, your remuneration – a real audition will always break down every significant information for you.