There are too many marketing companies that prey on a person's quest for fame. These companies and their affiliates post casting notices, auditions and ads on Craigslist, and other free classified sites that refer to fake auditions and non-existent castings for jobs that sound real. Some also use ads on the radio and newspapers to entice people.
Here is why they do this. Money! There are many different scams preying on people trying to break into the industry. Here are just a few.
There are many companies claiming to be agencies that will claim to find you work… if you pay them. They don’t just come out and ask for money, they first get your confidence and reel you in slowly. Often times they schedule a ‘fake’ audition (they don’t ask for money here to put you at ease), then they call and tell you ‘you are great’ come in for a 2nd audition and sometimes a 3rd. Once there, they tell you ‘you are perfect… but…’. This is where the salesperson kicks in and tries to sell you on photos, portfolios, online portfolios, classes, conventions and anything else they can push on you. The audition was not actually for a real part in any production, it was to evaluate how much you will spend and how much they can sucker you out of.
Then there are companies that don’t sell any services themselves, they get paid to sell your information to companies that have telemarketers and salespeople.
The companies / individuals involved are paid to get “leads”. Leads are people of a certain demographic such as child, teen, man, etc. that have an interest, such as acting or modeling, that they can later exploit by way of email spam, telemarketing, etc. After you answer a “fake” casting (much of craigslist was fake when I tested it), you will begin getting offers through email and sales pitches from telemarketers, all aimed at getting you to sign up for some service.
Many times they call you and say they have an audition for you. They pose as casting directors, agents, etc. They try to get you excited and pump up your ego with flattery. Real agents and casting directors do not just pick a name ‘out of a hat’ and offer a high paying acting job to someone they never met or seen perform.
When the telemarketers are done with you, your info gets sold to the next company and the routine starts again. Some internet marketers go as far as responding to your inquiry with a message that “you are perfect” or “will send the audition details”, but first… please go here and do this.
This is a different type of scam and not that obvious to most. Those affiliates get paid to funnel people to other sites, usually sites that deal with background checks or security of some kind. Age and citizenship verification are a common ploy. I answered one Extra casting (sounded very real) that sent me to a site that does ssl certificates. Most people would not even understand that ssl certification is for online shopping carts and has zero to to do acting or auditions. The marketer just used that because it went along the lines of “verify your identity” for the fake casting call and he gets paid 30 bucks for every FREE lead he sends to the company. He is scamming them too! I was looking for an audition, NOT a shopping cart! I am useless as a lead to them, but he still gets paid ’till caught. Then he moves on to the next company looking for leads.
Here’s how to spot the real castings from the fakes.
Remember, real casting directors will always want a headshot, resume, acting reel, and for modeling things such as height, weight, size, etc. If all they ask for is an optional photo and contact info than beware. The scammers need the photo because the sales pitch involves a lot of flattery. The sales pitch is honed to make you feel special and chosen.
Beware of anyone looking for “new faces”. Everyone has a new face! You can walk out your door and find dozens in a minute! The word “new faces” is a red flag for scam.
Beware of general needs such as “any ethnicity, ages 15 to 75″ thats almost EVERYONE! Real castings have specific needs (with the exception of extras).
Beware of “no experience necessary” acting, dance and modeling takes experience and training. Really, who is hiring actors who can’t act or fashion models that can’t walk? The only exception may be neighborhood fashion shows and student films.
Beware of ads with large pay. Ads that read like “models and actors needed for ‘put in any large brand here’ pay is $1200 daily and job is 4 to 5 days….” Yeah right, budgets that large get pros from agents, Not Mary and Jane off the street. Keep in mind that the SAG(Screen Actors Guild) daily rate is around $750 and that is to experienced pro actors in a union that pay dues.
Speaking of union rates… Beware of ads that quote union rates such as $752 a day without mention of union. They are just pulling union jobs knowing you have ZERO way of getting the gig or worse, making them up and quoting union rates.
Beware of anything that asks for lingerie, topless, etc. and request pics from you to be considered. Use your imagination on what someone will do with those. Real casting directors will want head shots, full body shot(clothed) and measurements and ask you to try on their clothing at the audition, once one is scheduled.
Beware of webcam auditions, Skype auditions and the like from people you do not know. There are legit ones done that way with experienced actors and scammers are playing on that. There have been many scams where ladies did those and were talked out of their clothing by people saying “I need to see what you really look like” and other lines. Those videos then get sold in other countries and end up all over the internet for other’s enjoyment.
Beware of Extras casting calls. Generally, large productions go through a casting company. Anyone posting things like “Extras needed to make scene look ‘real’, ’Insert big movie name here’ pays $300 daily” is a scam. Large productions in small cities will post notices, but in large cities, they already have all the extras needed, unless there is some specific needs the extras agency can’t fill.
Small productions will post calls but an extra does not make close to $300. Think more along the line of min wage or less. $50 to $100 may be more realistic. Do not sign up for any background or age verification site. Those are 100% scam, even though it seems free for you to do it, the scammer is selling your info to an unsuspecting company and you will never hear back about the audition.
Beware of anything that says call some number, casting agents are waiting. Casting directors look at headshots and resumes than call back who they like. They do not sit by a phone waiting for everyone and their mom to call without even knowing if they fit. Basically, they call you if they like you.
Beware of ANYONE that approaches you at a shopping mall to sign you up to audition for Disney Channel or whatever. Those are 100% fake. Disney does not work that way nor does any casting director. Those are sales people who are trying to get you in the door so they can then sell you stuff. There is no audition!!!!! You will be wasting your time going and many meetings later they will ask for payment for some inferior service. It takes many meeting because they attempt to gain your trust and have you invest your time. They try to make it look like they are doing auditions, then callbacks, etc. Not for a real role. It is for the opportunity to work with them and they make people feel special for being selected to come back so much. Fact is, they do that with everyone and the only thing they are evaluating is your ability to pay up.
And lastly, beware of anyone selling anything. Remember, you applied for a JOB! Means, they pay YOU!
How to protect yourself:
Get an email, an anonymous one for casting calls that you respond to. That way if it gets spammed, you can change it easily.
NEVER, follow a link to another site asking you for any info that you got in a response.
Do your homework – Google company names. If you want to see any bad press you can Google ‘company name scam’ or things along that line. Check consumer report sites. Many try to hide the bad press and small operations change names often. If you can’t find anything about them, that’s a red flag.
You can check how long their website has been around by doing a ‘who is’ search. I just ran into a agency that looked fishy the other day. They claimed tons of credits and offered promises of fame.
I checked them out. Their company website was created a few days back, hosted in the Ukraine and registered anonymously. Unless the Ukraine is the new Hollywood, I’m thinking, this may be a scam.
Remember, if it sounds like a dream, it most likely is just some low life trying to pay his bills off yours. Real jobs take commitment, training and diligence. You begin at the bottom with low paying jobs and castings in small productions, then work your way up as it is in any industry. Once you get some training, a resume and experience, then you get an agent to go after the larger jobs.
With all the above said, there are great opportunities available. You just need to learn how to stay away from the scammers. With practice, you will learn to spot the real from the fake. Even I still get fooled by some.