What Scott David’s Firing Means for YOU

What Scott David’s Firing Means for YOU by Dallas Travers

Last week, the Hollywood Reporter broke this story explaining that long time Criminal Minds Casting Director Scott David was released from his position after the publication featured an investigation about the casting director workshop industry.

No matter what you think of the fairness or function of CD workshops (or Scott’s situation specifically), I think we can all agree that this news has raised a lot of questions and caused many of us to think long and hard about our opinions of workshops.

In an ideal world, Casting Directors would have the time and energy and budget to take general meetings, attend live performances, and meet actors more organically.

But that’s not the nature of the business today in 2016.

Should it be? Maybe. But it isn’t.

And this is actually good news because the nature of the business has changed. Today it’s about relationship building more than just being “spotted”. Luckily, it’s not just about being in the right place at the right time or having familial connections anymore. You can actually build strong connections thanks to things like social media, self-producing and consistent marketing on your own behalf.

Workshops are an outgrowth of this new Relationship Culture. And while they’re an awesome way to connect live and in person with industry professionals, not every workshop experience is a positive one.

I think Scott’s firing highlights the tough position you are in as an actor. Your reps might encourage you to attend workshops. You might feel like it’s the only way to be seen. On top of that, your friends are probably doing them and too many workshop services tap into your fear of missing out when promoting their classes.

So, whether workshops are being run by the book or not, it’s easy to feel powerless. Especially considering that, according to the article, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office has not prosecuted one case since the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act was turned into law more than six years ago.

But I am here to tell you that you do have options. You also have a voice. There are countless workshop studios (especially in LA!), and they cannot operate without you. So, if you don’t like how a particular company does business, stop giving them your hard-earned money.

If you get the sense that a particular CD, agent or manager is not there to actually teach you, make a connection and help, let the workshop service know and stop attending workshops with this person.

Making empowered decisions and standing up for yourself through how and where you invest is an extraordinary way to shift away from being at the mercy of the system and into actually driving the system forward in a more ethical, actor-friendly way.

Full disclosure: I do believe in workshops when they’re run ethically. I teach workshop strategy in my Actor’s Business Blueprint course. Many, many of my students have booked meaningful work thanks to the relationships and trust they’ve built through workshops. They did not magically book work straight out of one class. It was a process, an investment, and a business move.

So, if you choose to leverage workshops, you can make the most of them with the right strategy. Here are some tips to help you do that.

Tip One: Change Your Perspective

We covered this, but it bears repeating. This is not a ‘paid audition” but it also isn’t an acting class. It’s a networking opportunity. If you’re attending any Women In Film, Paley Center, Film Independent, or other networking organization, you have to pay to attend.

Casting Director workshops are essentially the same thing. You’re paying a registration fee to attend a networking event where you have access to relationships you may not have had access to otherwise.

Tip Two: Do Your Due Diligence

Before throwing down a chunk of change to register for an agent workshop, take the time to contact each agency to find out whether or not they’re actually taking on new clients.

I can’t tell you how many actors I know who have invested in a workshop with an agent, or an agent showcase, and one of the first things out of the agent’s mouth is, “I’m not taking on any clients right now.” — Cue the disappointment and feelings of being cheated!

But the reality is: you didn’t do your due diligence.

The same applies when you’re meeting a CD. Rely on The Workshop Guru to get the inside scoop on how particular workshops services run and how specific casting directors operate inside the workshop system.

Workshop Guru functions like Yelp, and actors are encouraged to share constructive, real-person feedback on the site. What a great way to make sure ahead of time that you’ll be investing in a workshop that will actually teach you, inspire you and move your career forward.

Tip Three: Remember the Big Picture

Last and most importantly, if you decide to invest in casting workshops, make sure you’re maintaining an ongoing dialogue with the casting directors and agents that you meet.

Too many actors attend workshops thinking that they’re going to knock it out of the park and get called in the next day. Then, when they’re not brought in right away, they feel frustrated, confused, and discouraged.

But that’s not how it works…

Workshops give you the opportunity to showcase different sides of your talent and give you rare face time with people in the business that you respect and admire most.

You’ll build a strong connection with these industry members that converts into meetings, auditions, and bookings, only when you maintain ongoing marketing through mailings, social media, email and content creation.

Workshops are NOT a magic pill. And thankfully they’re not the only way to take your career to the next level. But, they are a powerful aspect of the new Relationship Culture inside the industry. And if everyone involved does their part to maintain high ethics and reasonable expectations (that means you too!), I believe they can become a truly educational, empowering, career-shifting experience for you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts… If you could improve the Workshop system, what one change would you make? Share your ideas in the comments box below.

But please don’t use this blog as a forum to just complain or make personal attacks. I want to encourage a constructive conversation here.

Comments

  1. Amen, and Thank you Dallas! There are angels and snakes out there, and it is OUR responsibility to discern them. I think workshops can be a good thing, but you have to be DISCERNING and watch out for the snakes. If it crawls like a snake, looks like a snake, it probably is. I have attended many workshops using my good judgment, and learned and networked a lot, sometimes with CDs I already had worked with, just to keep my name in their minds for new projects! But you have to be judicious. Workshops are neither all good, nor all bad, but one thing I can say for sure, is that they are only ONE tool in an actors bag of many networking tools. Use them wisely!

    • I completely agree with you Kim. Great article Dallas! I’m happy to say that the majority of workshops i’ve attended have been positive experiences. I have not attended them is years, but when I did, i gained a lot of insight and Scott David actually did call me in and I thought he was terrific.

    • Casting Director workshops, manager and talent agency workshops were created for one reason and one reason only. A cottage industry based on the fear of actors of not getting a chance to be seen. Charging actors for the “chance” to be seen is obscene. The industry is just like the rest of the business world. TAKE EVERY PENNY YOU CAN.
      Anyone who defends this horrible practice is either justifying their workshops, or justifying , unknowingly, how the industry no longer seeks out the most talented, but, instead says, “There are so many of you that we will charge you for doing what we should be doing on our own. Why go out and search for talent when so many are so desperate to be seen that they will actually pay for the “privilege”?
      My name is Daniel Hutchison and I don’t care who I may have offended by my thoughts..

      • Great article, Dallas! Wow… My hubby attended a workshop with Scott David last year at the AA! I wanted to reply to Daniel Hutchinson’s comment and say that I was soooooo happy to hear someone express how I’ve been feeling about this whole ‘Casting Directors’ workshops situation. The ‘direction’ it has taken… I TOTALLY agree with Daniel! At the end of the day, especially here in Los Angeles, the SUPPLY is GREATER than the DEMAND of actors…. The industry has become HIGHLY saturated and as Daniel expressed CD Workshops attract many who are desperate and willing to pay over and over and over for the ‘privilege’ of one day being called in. I’ve seen the increase in CD workshops popping up all over LA, since 2008… Again, like Daniel said, THEY’RE TAKING EVERY PENNY THEY CAN. Sad… But hey, it’s working for them!

        • It is indeed working for them. I’m noticing them pop up all over LA. It also seems to work for actors, too. Many build relationships that lead to bookings…as I’m learning from this conversation! 🙂

          Would using the strategy(ies) that I’ve outlined above help make it feel less like you’re being taken advantage of and more like you’re using the tools at your disposal to become known instead of just seen? Meaning — do you think they shouldn’t exist at all? Or just that there should be changes?

      • Hi Daniel! All input is valid. And I think many feel this way, which is why this is such a hot topic. I’m sure no one takes offense. Having the conversation and then speaking out about where you find things unfair is how change happens. Glad you commented and hope there’s a way to restructure things so actors can have an opportunity that doesn’t make them feel taken advantage of. I hope some of the tips above might be helpful, but also that actors who feel this way unite so the changes they want to see can be made. Thanks again for the comment!

      • Daniel, I hear you and you are not alone in your thinking. I am also proud of you for taking a stand that you clearly believe in. Though we may not totally agree, I respect you very much for sharing here.

  2. Hey Dallas!
    Workshops are amazing. I booked my first SAG jobs via workshops. However, they have dramatically changed on the years. Initially I believed CDs were actually looking for new faces and talent, but now it seems to be more financial. Although, everyone is entitled to make a “fair” living.
    You are correct in advising actors to research any workshop they attend. From the actual venue to the CDs scheduled to attend. There have been times when the CD has been misrepresented or misrepresented themselves.
    In regards to Scott David, he is a noble CD. I know a impressive number of actors who have auditioned for Criminal Minds via his workshops, and booked the role.
    Workshops are more effective than mass mailings!!!!!

    Cheers!
    Terrell Clayton

    • Yes, I’m one of those who built a relationship with Criminal Minds via workshops. I didn’t get called in for a long time, then I did but had a terrible audition. Did another workshop, got called in again, booked. Workshops are the only way I can make something like this happen again. I do not have theatrical representation. I used to feel otherwise, avoiding the workshops on principle. But when you try them and they work, even once, it’s hard to rule them out. I completeely understand actors who choose other ways to invest in their careers.

      • As do I. How you invest in your career is one only you can make. Different approaches resonate with different people.

        So glad you’ve had success with workshops! Bravo to you for sticking with it and using the tools at your disposal to move your career forward.

    • Awesome thoughts. Thank you for contributing to the conversation.

      I, too, have heard an impressive number of success stories from casting workshops. I have found that the actors who share these stories approached workshops consistently and strategically.

      To add, I also think that mailings have the opportunity to stick out from the many received every day when you add quality face time to your strategy. So in a lot of ways, workshops and mailings can actually work together!

      Thanks again, Terrell!

  3. Dallas, thanks for your input on this topic. It’s true, this situation HAS made a lot of actors stop and think about how ethical the situation is or isn’t (I even got into a fight with my fiancé about this topic!).

    Your thoughts are clear and very much appreciated.

    • Oh no!! Funny enough, you’re not the first one I’ve heard say they fought with their finance about this! ha! Thanks so much of your comment. I’m glad you found it clear. That’s always the goal 🙂

  4. Thank you Dallas. Yes, you are so right : We as actors (People) can create change based on our decisions of which CD’s and businesses to support 🙂

  5. Bravo!!! Thank you for stating everything so clearly and allowing us to be empowered with our decisions. Too many people are so emotional about this topic, and they jump to one conclusion or another. It is an excellent form of marketing, in my opinion, but as you said, you have to do it wisely and choose what works for you and your career. I am a fan of Scott David, because I always got a lot from his honest teachings. Did he call me in? Yes. But the main point is that we formed a personal connection and I got a lot out of it. So thank you again for dealing so wonderfully with this sensitive issue and allowing us to talk about it.

    • Oh I’m so glad that you understood my intention so clearly. I totally agree, the point is to form a personal connection and if a particular avenue resonates with you, go forth and use it wisely. 🙂 I’m also really glad casting workshops have been working for you and that you’re open to contribute to the conversation. Thanks you for your comment!

    • I am also a Scott David supporter. I went to his workshops and did I get called in? No.
      But I didn’t pay to get an audition, my genuine intention was to go to a workshop and get the feedback of a CD I respected and I did. I learned a great deal from Scott and other CDs.

  6. Great article and great advice! I think, as you said, that too many actors view these workshops as a magic pill instead of as a tool. Like any other business, we need to do our due diligence before we invest. 🙂

  7. Dallas, thank you for your time effort and experience . We all need to re-evaluate our marketing dollars and to whom they go. You are in a unique position of hearing which of the workshop groups excell or fail. Without a personal recommendation could you pass along a few you have heard are reputable.?

    • Mike, I do have my faves, but truthfully I want you to hear it from your fellow actors. They’re the ones in the room, so they’re insight will be invaluable. You can read actor reviews on workshop services AND the CDs who attend them at http://www.theworkshopguru.com. Good luck!

  8. You’ve done it again Dallas! You’ve taken a situation that may have been interpreted as negative and turned it on its head to teach us! While I don’t have any personal experience with ‘workshop culture’, I appreciate your comments on our ability to enact change in our artistic community. We ARE capable and our voices are NOT silent. AMEN!

  9. Hey Dallas,
    Well…I ain’t gonna lie. I got my Commercial Agent, which led to my first Manager, which led to TV work, which led to my current great Agent because of a Workshop.
    My attitude at the time was…WATTA YOU GONNA DO…LOL! In my first few years in LA…everything else I tried didn’t work…Workshops did. However, I haven’t done a workshop in 3 years because…one…I audition a lot now. And two…well…I echo Kim Yarbrough and Terrell Clayton’s comments. I feel bad for Scott though because I was a member of his workshop studio. And maybe it’s time to bring back General Auditions…I don’t know. I pretty much think Workshops are going away anyway because there are so many ways to be seen now without paying your hard earned money. Just my take.

  10. Your words are wonderful indeed Dallas!

    I’ll speak for my friend Matt who moved to Los Angeles ten years ago and told me he attended workshops, not necessarily to learn scene study…but to BE seen. In an audition you get maybe 3-4 minutes of their time, but in a workshop they get to see a lot more of you. He added that he was also invited to visit the directors offices for actual readings not related to workshops, so for him, the investment was worth it.. He’s doing REALLY well in Hollywood by the way. Of course having talent and “the look” is a must as well…

    • Great input. And I hear this a lot from other actors, too. Workshops can totally lead to more and I’m so glad it worked that way for your friend.

      ha! Yes, a look and talent is a huge plus, too 🙂

  11. Thank you Dallas, great advice. With regards to Scott David, I think it was hugely unfair and an extreme over-reaction to single him out for termination and uncalled for given that the other production companies did not do the same to their casting directors for giving workshops. TV and film production would stop for some time.

    I have mixed feelings about workshops having taken them in the past and not feeling like i needed to since I have two dozen television credits. But I invested in a package at Actors Link and two casting directors brought me in a few times and I booked both – New Girl and Criminal Minds – the other dozen casting associates did not bring me in – maybe I could have networked better. And yes Scott David brought me in approximately ten times over the years and it was a great feeling to finally see him at the table read for the episode I booked.

    My advice is to keep working in a good scene study class to develop and strengthen a solid foundation and be flexible with and ready for adjustments. This way when an opportunity to play arises, whether at an audition or a workshop or meeting, You Got Game.

    • Hey there. I believe that is kind of the point, though, with all of this drama. It is 100% illegal to book a job from these things as that is essentially a “paid audition”. I’m down for meetings and play attendance, etc, but bring called in simply because you took their workshop is unfair and misleading. My two cents. #brokeactor

      • Hi K Hogan. Thanks for your comment! I see what you’re saying. That’s definitely illegal. But what I’m seeing many say is that they got to meet casting directors with the help of workshops. Developing relationships with them that lead to bookings was only possible when workshops were followed up with their consistent outreach.

        But again, how you approach your networking and marketing has to resonate with you! It’s a personal choice. And I totally understand your thoughts on this. Workshops are controversial. My intention and hope is to arm you with tools to strategically approach them so you can get the most bang for your buck (IF and only if they resonate!) 🙂

      • I’m confused. Don’t you pay to submit on breakdown services, actors access, lacasting? I mean, you literally have to buy a yearly subscription or pay via submission. Therefore, paying for an audition. How is that legal, then?

        Dallas? Thoughts?

    • LOVE this. Being on your game at all times is certainly a game changer and I’m glad you mentioned it. Thanks for your input!

  12. Perhaps the problem is the solution. We as actors could respectfully ask these companies to ask the CDs or agents beforehand if they are looking to add to their rosters/files. It’s only fair.
    As for agents and managers, the seminars as they have them in NYC are a great way to get an idea if a person is one of Your People. I know I have walked away, glad to have made the small investment to avoid a possible problem.
    As always, things come down from the top. Until networks and studios have more respect for the casting directors and pay them accordingly for the time is takes to do a good and thorough search, these workshops are going to be around. We as individual actors must be responsible to knowing what we are buying.

  13. Thank you for talking about this. It has been a real hot topic and I’m thrilled to hear your insight. Scott David is a great guy and it’s a shame he was used to spotlight this issue.

  14. Yes, thanks for talking about this issue. It does make one think, what would happen if production companies did start letting CD’s go who did workshops and they just couldn’t do them anymore? Another way would then HAVE to be found. It seems it just stays this way, because up until now, there have been no repercussions and it is a way to network and meet people. What if CD’s started looking for new ways to have generals, such as electronically? It’s so easy to submit work using even your smart phone, it seems something could be done to utilize existing technology to make it more efficient for all to be “seen.” I know that nothing takes the place of in-person meetings, but just trying to think outside of the current parameters to “what else could be done?” so that CD’s could meet a larger amount of talent on a regular basis? Would love to hear other folks ideas as well. 🙂

  15. Great article Dallas!
    Being an innovative actor doesn’t just mean making interesting choices when the cameras are rolling but being just as if not more decisive and interesting in the way we market ourselves. This business is always changing and will continue to do so, we need to change with it. Workshops, while not being the ideal situation are if used correctly an amazing marketing tool. My opinion is that if an actor is doing the work and doing workshops and not getting called in…it’s the actor who is not correctly marketing themselves. I know this to be true because I was guilty of it myself. After doing the work and getting my Brand and Marketability in order, workshops have become an incredible tool for my career.
    I agree with Dallas though, do your due diligence and know not only who and what these CD or agents are looking for but most importantly, what you do as a type and brand. Get all those ducks in a row and they’ll be no stopping you!

  16. I was sad to hear what happened to Scott David. He has cast a number of my friends on Criminal Minds through having them in his workshops. It’s one of the only ways to get in front of casting if you don’t have proper representation and if you don’t have a lot of credits. What did he do that was so wrong?

    • I’m not sure, Niketta. I also don’t know that it was related to his casting workshops. That might just be a coincidence that the article was released at the same time. That said, I have heard that he was huge in helping to give many actors their first credits. This conversation has certainly been an interesting one. I’ve loved reading all of your thoughts on casting workshops and if they’ve worked or haven’t worked for you. Glad your friends have had good experiences! I agree that they can be a huge help in getting in front of industry members when you don’t have rep to help. Thanks so much for joining the convo 🙂

  17. I have been doing workshops for 20 years (oh noooooo) & I have gotten work from them. Sometimes it was just about building up my comfort level with certain people so that when I did have a big audition I knew the person I would see. However, Ive also been to workshops where you could tell the person didn’t care. I use workshop guru and ask my friends and who they have. seen that’s good and avoid the bad people. Tha being said I just spent 3k making a short I’m really proud of. If you’re pouring your money into workshops just shoot your own thing!

    • Yes! And getting work from workshops isn’t what they’re supposed to be used for, unfortunately. It’s sad because that’s how it is now. Rather than learning anything, it’s a means to get called in, and essentially a paid audition, which isn’t legal. I’d love to brainstorm new ways to meet the CDs!

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Kate! So glad workshops have worked for you. But you’re so right, there are other ways to invest in your career — and creating your work is HUGE. Awesome advice.

  18. Great article and a reminder that with everything in your career you have to be careful where you invest your money! Do your research and look for the best fit for you, whether it is workshops or Headshots. My teen age son attends workshops with a wonderful group in NYC. He has made excellent connections and has been called in multiple times by all but one CD he met. But just as important 9 out of 10 of the CDs he has met have worked with him extensively in the workshop session – giving him adjustments and suggestions on the scenes he is reading. He actually learns as much during these workshops as I did “back in the day” in traditional Scene Study classes. And I never once met the Head of Casting for a major network during a Scene Study class!

    • I never thought of it that way! Love the thought of learning just as much as you did with formal training, but also making personal connections with industry members. That’s interesting and really awesome for your son!!! Thanks for the input 🙂

  19. Scott wasn’t let go because of the article. The Hollywood Reporter just thinks that their “investigative journalism” did it. Not true. The author of the article from THR harassed casting people and actors to get a story. The timing with Scott being let go and the article are just a coincidence. Also non of the workshop places have violated any laws and all stick with the rules. The article was riddled with incorrect information. Thank you Dallas for posting this though. As actors we should have a choice. Workshops are a choice. I love them. I get to act and meet new people and thats what it should be about.

    • I totally agree — that’s exactly what it’s about! Thank you for pointing out that the author of the article has a habit of harassing casting people. Not nice!! I’m glad we’re having this conversation though, because it’s been a controversial topic for as long as I can remember and it’s interesting to see how opinions have evolved over the years. Where once it was considered abuse of power by most, it seems many have embraced them as opportunity to strengthen relationships and I’m so glad. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  20. Dallas, new fan of you here! 90% of my bookings and industry relationships started with workshops. As a veteran stage actor I learned from these CD’s how to manage my performance for the camera. If you don’t want to take a workshop then don’t. It’s a choice and I don’t want mine taken away. I do wish there was some regulation on the honorariums paid to the CD’s. Some have skyrocketed to $750/workshop and I just can’t justify that expenditure. Perhaps $200 for seeing up to 20 people would be more reasonable (that’s $10 for 5 minutes). Workshops are a necessary part of my team and I would be lost without them.

    • WOW. That’s awesome! 90% is fantastic. I’m so glad you’ve formed valuable relationships thanks to workshops PLUS learned something! Thanks for sharing that 🙂

      Yes. I think that’s a very valid conversation starter. I have heard that rates are very high. Perhaps that’s something that will change over time. But in the meantime, I don’t see workshops going anywhere. So, good news is I don’t think that choice will be taken away from you!! 🙂 #wootwoot

  21. The Hollywood Reporter makes a couple of interesting points about this phenomenon: first, that producers are basically outsourcing the work of finding new talent to these workshop companies, instead of actually paying for casting departments and personnel who have the time to schedule generals or go see actors in shows… so the actors who pay for these workshops are actually subsidizing this aspect of their productions. And also, that this has repercussions for diversity and access, since it filters out those who can’t afford to attend workshops on a regular basis. Now I know you could argue that if someone is really serious about being an actor, they will work their butts off to *get* the money required to attend these workshops, and that is what most of us do! But it does remind me an awful lot of what is happening in the college admissions game, where schools have outsourced part of their admissions process to the big testing companies, which shuts out students who don’t have the good sense to come from families who can afford to pay for test prep, tutoring, and either private school tuition or a home in a good public school district. And of course many of those low-scoring students happen to come from low-income and/or minority households.
    So what about this: what if these companies, instead of charging actors for fake “classes” on audition technique with casting directors, started offering more actual acting and technique classes with real acting teachers – people who actually teach ongoing, in-depth technique courses in film, commercial, or voiceover acting, not just CDs or agents looking for new talent. Then they could allow the income from regular classes to subsidize “industry” nights with special guest CDs or agents, either for free or a nominal fee ($10-15), for students who are already currently enrolled or have been recently enrolled in classes. Students would still be seen, industry guests would still get paid, the companies could still continue to educate actors and give them opportunities while making money, and the spirit and letter of the law would be a little more closely followed. Students would still be indirectly paying to be seen, in the form of their regular class tuition, but at least they’d be getting some actual training out of it (which I’m sure we could all use more of). I know of at least one teacher in New York who does this, albeit on a smaller scale: he offers ongoing commercial acting and film scene study classes, but he also has nights when he hosts prominent CDs or agents, and it’s free to attend, as long as you are either in his classes or on his mailing list, and you sign up in time before it fills up. If you are in his class, you are guaranteed to get up and work; if not, you write your name on a slip of paper and there’s a lottery for the remaining chances to be seen.

    • Very interesting point regarding the comparison between college admissions and casting workshops. Hadn’t thought of it that way.

      And which NY teacher does this acting class? That’s a phenomenal idea.

      I really, really appreciated your well thought out thoughts. I think it’s a great idea and would love to see something like this happen. Thank you for your fantastic input!! I guess the next thought becomes — how can you bring this awesome idea to life? It’s a good one.

  22. The one change I would make is to have the Workshops and Showcases paid for by Producers and Production Companies. Think about MLB and their minor league farm system. MLB teams pay to cultivate and train New Talent because ultimately they are the big winners when their teams are successful. Minor League Coaches are paid by MLB teams, not by the players trying to reach the “show”. If major studios pooled their resources, they could reinvest in a training system for Actors that would serve two purposes. It would cultivate the Cream of the crop while weeding out the ones that just can’t cut it. The workshops would then focus on developing real talent instead of soaking up every dollar they could soak up from someone who doesn’t have talent, but his willing to bleed their bank account on hope.

    • Leo — this idea is fascinating! There are a few other comments on this feed that have the same thinking as you do. I wonder if you guys need to get together and figure out a way to make this happen!! Your ideas are all fantastic and I never would have thought of them had this conversation not started!! Love it when that happens.

      I so appreciate your input. 🙂

  23. Thank you, Dallas. A nice write up and sharing of thoughts. And there are some great shared comments here from your readers as well.

    Ah yes, as an eager actor trying to do the right thing, I attended many workshops believing all I heard and also listened to conflicting suggestions about the pros and cons of attending. Boy was I confused. I was very wishy washy about my feelings. I did want to network and get to know the agents and get feedback, but I didn’t want to seem like I wasn’t serious about my craft by agreeing to pay for this type of thing. Was I contributing to the sleaze to please? I thought about my experiences and did my research and decided that yes, there are some that are worth attending and getting to know who do hire and provide good feedback. And there are others who just collect the money and think about their next moment they can check their phones between actor pauses (if not during). If this is the only opportunity to get seen, and it’s legit, then why not? You are meeting someone and it’s practice. But I now do my research and choose carefully. I rarely go to them though. I focus more on legit classes when CDs are invited as part of the class. That seems to be more of a win, at least for me.
    I agree if you go to a workshop, research first and then really observe and listen. If you get a sense there is no connection or the feedback provided is rather generic or it is suggested is that you shave your beard, but you don’t have a beard, then perhaps that person should be crossed off your list.
    Good luck out there.
    SINGcerely,
    Mary Lahti

  24. Not to cast aspersions, but there are some CD’s & Associates (Mr David being one of them) who would actually say “you need to do a number of workshops with me before I’ll bring you in” — that’s when I say NO WAY. I try to be a smart, informed actor and use the workshops as the marketing tool they are. Almost all of my TV credits were the result of the relationships I built using these workshops, and I didn’t expect them to work “overnight.” Dallas, you’ve done a FANTASTIC job here of shining the light on the “how-to’s” of using workshops to one’s advantage. It is absolutely true that there are many networking opportunities that cost money — that is also the case for almost EVERY SINGLE OCCUPATION. Why should actors be any different?

    [Also, I believe the article was incorrect about the fact that there have been no prosecutions (actually, there were a number of items that weren’t properly fact-checked in the article).]

    Anyway, thanks so much for the informative, evenly handed article regarding this polarizing topic :).

    • You’re so welcome! Yes, I did notice and have heard feedback about some unchecked “facts.” Thanks for pointing them out!

      If a CD is saying you must see them a few times before they bring you in, that’s an example of when to use your voice and speak out. You’re right, that’s definitely not the way to host a workshop! I’m so glad you’re choosing to be well informed before attending a workshop. That’s definitely the way to do it!

      Thanks for your input 😉

    • I do remember a lot of CDs saying that, and now looking back…were they saying that for the money or did they really mean it? Gosh, I’m feeling a bit duped

  25. I honestly feel that I would not have gotten my start in television had it not been for CD workshops I’d participated in, which was prior to this conversation being an issue. And having taken a workshop and auditioning for Scott David before the emergence of The Actor’s Link, I don’t know him to be anything but genuine, especially to the actor’s plight.
    I appreciate that you boldly addressed this THR article in your blog, Dallas, recognizing how important the ‘right’ workshops have proved to be as a networking tool for actors.

  26. My take. I was jazzed about workshops. Seeing it as an opportunity to network. Plus I had friends who had successful bookings from them. I did a two-month plunge last year during episodic season. And yes got called in for Criminal Minds. Pricewise it seemed to add up the same as taking a scene study class. So that’s how I used it, as class. Comfortable that it was a tax write off as well. It was a wonderful learning experience and an opportunity to practice audition skills. Every CD was completely different.
    Most were kind and supportive of actors. A few (some of the more well-established ones) were a bit snarky and spoke with a somewhat condescending tone like an old-school acting teacher. Again the ones that were nice we’re also fun and encouraging and I walked out of the room feeling empowered.
    Here’s what I’d like to see more of. Clarity. Explanation of how to stay in touch with them and their proper current address/ email/ etc. if it’s social media they prefer then how? Through posts or messaging? This should just be addressed in their opening speech without us having to ask. Clarity on exactly what our opportunities are at the level we are at. Example are we eligible for guest stars. Or do these contracts only go out to offers? One statement I hear all the time from CD’s when asked “you don’t need an agent to book work” but no information is given on how one submits or gets an audition. Clarity on postcards. Is creativity important or will a straight up headshot do? How do they work with agents? Open to phone pitches or not? Lastly how often should we attend their workshops in order to keep the relationship growing.

    • Those are GREAT questions. I’ve spoken to a few actors about this in the past and their solution was to ask these questions at the beginning or the end of class when the CD asks if the actors have any questions. Maybe these are some topics to bring to their attention? Because I’d agree, this would be awesome info to walk away with.

  27. You so PERFECTLY captured what I have been wanting to articulate about workshops. AND…I am clear I can always be MORE rigorous with my selections an my due diligence…..AND that it is all for naught IF I don’t keep in touch, in a personal and smart way. Thank you, Dallas, for being voice of reason in all this.

    • Oh you’re welcome, Heather! I’m glad this was helpful. I’d agree – due diligence and consistency with your outreach before and after the workshop is is very important. But the first step is recognizing that! So you’re right on track! 🙂

  28. Hi Dallas,

    Thank you for your article and informing me of the THR articles. I read them both because of you bringing attention to them. And I appreciate you opening up this dialogue.

    As I was scrolling down to leave my two cents, I stopped along the way to read others’ posts and your responses. I couldn’t help notice that you seem to only appreciate and thank those comments which support and praise CD workshops. You predominantly ignore those who are against them. Do you really want a dialogue, or only people who agree with you?

    Adam Silverstein

    • Hi Adam! 95 comments is a large number to get to in one night. 🙂 Particularly when your intention is to respond to all of them. Thanks for your comment!

  29. Great stuff! I love the reminder that workshops serve as a piece of the whole marketing pie. You have to continue using all the marketing tools at your disposal. That way, you create a 3 dimensional experience with your networking.

  30. I was kind of hoping this would be more of an article about what is going to happen with actual workshops. Are we going to see a lot of them being shup down, etc?

    • Hm. Not sure. If I were to guess… probably not. But I really couldn’t tell you! I have heard that the CSA is regulating them more closely, but other than that I’m not sure.

  31. This was great thanks! I recently left an Acting Class that felt like it was just rehearsal. We were just practicing but I didn’t love the feedback and I did not feel I was learning any new craft or expanding my craft. So, I thought, well if I’m going to pay someone to watch me practice, wouldn’t it be better if that someone were able to help me get a job. Then all of this came out in the Hollywood Press. This post is so ON POINT. Love what you said about due diligence. My big take away is to be smart and choosy about the workshops I invest in. Thanks Dallas!

  32. Billy Da Motta replied to my comment on the THR article.”The minute you stop paying for workshops, Tudor, is the minute you casting is going to pay attention to you.” to which I replied: (worked with both Billy and Scott)

    Hey Billy
    Let me share a little story about me and two CD’s: 2012, fresh out of acting school – I self submitted for an Aftra TV show about kidnappers and bad people who were on a most wanted list and this nice man who was trying to help catch them. I was called in based on my Eastern European look and my foreign sounding name for an Eastern European part in that production. I was lucky and booked it. Not at all a bad gig for my first week out of school. I have been trying to stay in touch with the casting director who brought me in for that job ever since. I have been sending him postcards ever since 2012 and he’s been on my update list since 2013. Out of all my emails that I send out about every 2 months he replied once, in 2014. I never saw him or ever heard from him since. Since he doesn’t exactly respond to my emails, doesn’t call me in and doesn’t do workshops I don’t know how to see him.

    Now, in June 2014 I did a workshop with a different TV casting director (who loves seeing people in workshops) who seemed very appreciative of the fact that I can actually do an American accent. I added him to my update list as well – he’s been replying ever since and always calls me by my nickname. I saw him again in 2015 with a different piece and a week after he called me in for an audition for a redneck, I even got a callback from that. I let a year go by – but still kept him updated. Then I saw him again in a workshop this year with another piece and again he called me by my nickname before I even said anything. A month after, he reached out to my manager to send me in on an audition, again for an American accented role for his TV show. I was lucky and it was a BOOK. What show is that?… My episode airs tonight on CBS @ 9. Or check it out on the CBS website the week after. Moreover, the same casting office just had me in last week for something.

    .

  33. Thanks for the post Dallas. It certainly is a hot button. I’m a huge supporter of CD Workshops if the Actor is there to learn. Not to “get called in”, but to build a relationship and get educated on how to be better at auditions, scenes, talking to a CD in the room, etc. The Actor can learn so much about how they are seen by CD’s– and learn how to put their package together as an Actor-knowing their type, having headshots that reflect that, choosing a scene that is in their wheelhouse…because all of this research and education supports the Actor in everything they create and how they present themselves to CD’s, Agents, making short films, etc. Workshops also give the Actor a chance to get the nerves out, so when they finally go in the room to audition, they aren’t as nervous and know a little bit of what to expect. And all of this takes time. Lots of time. Acting careers aren’t built in a year. They are built over YEARS. Anywho, I love seeing all the posts on here and it will continue to evolve.

  34. Oh and yes–someone asked about good places in LA to Workshop–The Actor’s Key, The Actor’s Key West, and One-on-One all have a high reputation for being some of the top places in the city to workshop, they are known to have good Actors, and they run top quality within the law, very closely following the practices and rules that the city mandates for CD Workshops.

  35. While I agree about all the good intentions, I believe that the workshop system is pushing us down. Talent is the key to agents and casting directors making money. Talent should not have to pay to meet people who will benefit from their work. What other industry does this?

    In early decades, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, this did not exist. People called you in to see if they could make money off of you. Now they are wanting to make money from you.

    And really, do the very top agents and casting directors hold “seminars” or “workshops?” Mostly their assistants.

    And I do not blame the people holding the workshops. They are under paid and trying to make a living. But in the end, it is the worker, the talent, that is paying coming an going.

  36. I’m a capitalist and can’t be mad at people finding creative ways to make money. But let’s be honest here and call a spade a spade. It’s a shortcut to get noticed. Like Night Clubs purposely keeping the line long so people can PAY the VIP price to get in front of the line.

    All you have to do is see the “Marketing” or the “Success Stories” of the workshops to prove the point. If this is “Educational” then why promote the fact that a certain Actor got an Audition while attending a certain CD workshop.

    Again I agree that these workshops can be beneficial and people should be able to do whatever they want with their money.

    But doing too Many Casting Workshops is like doing too many Extra Work. It’s cool in the beginning but to much of it can hurt your career.

  37. Wow! What a healthy conversation this has become. I as an actor truly appreciate everyone’s honesty when it comes to this. I for one have built wonderful relationships at CD workshops but have also take workshops where the CD is CLEARLY there for the $$$ and has ZERO interest in EVER calling me or anyone else in; and that in my opinion is taking advantage of us. What I would like to see happen is actors rising up and saying ‘hey, this person is here for the money, not the chance to meet me so don’t waste your money” and indicate it on sites like the workshop guru, which i think is an INCREDIBLE resource for us. We can’t be afraid anymore because the power is really in our hands (financially speaking). if we don’t take their classes, they don’t make money. Same goes with the companies that own the workshops. If they are unethical, then we should be saying something.

  38. Thank you for this article. I think workshops are an invaluable resource for many actors and as you expressed we have to approach them with a plan, smart, focused and organized and not just attend one and expect that we’ll get called in. Because of online submitting and the high numbers of actors per role( in the thousands many times) it’s harder for actors today to get called in so workshops done strategically can assist in at the least establishing a positive relationship with casting directors in many cases. Another plus which I haven’t heard many actor express is that when you have a strong agent but haven’t met a casting director yet, establishing a positive relationship via workshops can add to the pitching power that your agent may need to get you seen. It’s much harder to get an invitation from casting if they have never met you in many cases and there’s only a “few invitation spots” which is more common today, so establishing any level of a positive relationship can many times help. I have learned a lot in the couple of workshops I have taken so far and twice my newly established connection with casting actually helped my agent get me in the room 🙂

  39. Most Actors don’t make money from “ACTING” only a small percentage do…Nobody cares about the struggle actors go through to come up with the money to pay for acting classes, headshot, car payment, gas, etc…drive to auditions which actors don’t get paid for! But CD GET PAID TO AUDITION ACTORS! IT IS THEIR JOB!!!!!! It is a business of making money from struggling actors!! Because of these workshops GENERAL MEETINGS WITH CASTING ( meeting a casting director for FREE) are no longer available to actors.

  40. As an actor. and a proactive networker, CD workshops have been a valuable piece of relationship building. Here in Atlanta we mostly tape so these are the best ways an actor can use to build relationships. In the workshops I have learned about each CD’s style, preferences for contacting, personal stories about how they came to be a CD.

    Actors are selling a brand/product.. These CD workshops eliminate the gatekeeper. Any successful salesperson would look to do this.

    Benefits found were having a CD help me choose my best headshot months AFTER attending a seminar. Learning that a CD writes sketch comedy and attending a local show, having two CD’s recommend that I focus on Improv classes (which I have started). My investment has been anout $50.00 a month which has had a good ROI.

    As many have said, do yoir homework and ask others who have attended.

  41. I just did my second casting director workshop. Of the 2, the 1st one seemed to offer more hope of possible relationship building than the 2nd. I wanted to raise the differences. The 1st workshop, I walked away feeling like I’d started a good relationship, that they were open to hearing from me in the future, either directly or through social media. They said they would reply to questions by email, but sadly, they haven’t come through on that.

    The second, he was quite clear that this wasn’t an opportunity to build any relationships, there wasn’t really a chance to talk and see if there were ways to communicate, other than through the workshop, so no social media was suggested, no emails. He quite boldly said, you will not get in front of our office by doing this workshop and that isn’t going to happen.

    I’m glad you have raised this and are talking about it, as I walked away from that 2nd workshop, feeling I’m glad I did it, but is it worth me doing it again? I’d say no. I got some really useful information about this casting director, some other names in the industry and such, but if he isn’t really going to see me as a possibly person to build relationships with, than I’ll let that go.

    I, also, love the idea of letting the organisers know, as they asked for feedback on the workshop and I can take that power back. I’m based in the UK and these are quite new here, we’ve held out longer on not having them, but they are starting to take over here as well, so this is great to start to stand up in quite, but strong ways of how we want it work.

    Thanks Dx

  42. I haven’t read all comments in the thread, but wasn’t part of the issue that Scott David had a vested interest (owner or part owner) in a workshop business? This would seem like a clear conflict of interest. There was a similar backlash a few years ago when The People Network showed up as an alternative casting website , and it was shown that the agent Rod Baron had started it. Maybe that’s why the people behind the Krekorian Act decided to go after S.D. – for what they saw as a blatant conflict of interest in a field that is already pretty contentious.

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