As long as the industry has existed, there have been people taking advantage of people’s dreams. That often unfortunately means innocent people have been bilked out of hard-earned money because they trusted the wrong individuals.
The Actor Factory was founded to be a trusted safe-haven for actors to receive credible, respected and affordable on-camera training, while fighting the scams that take advantage of so many.
There are very legitimate talent agents, open calls, websites and more out there, but please take a look at some of the common warning signs that might protect you, your time and your money from the many scams.
There are a lot of false promises and scummy agents out there. Please read our “Getting an Agent” page to help you find the right agent for you while avoiding the scams.
Advertised "Open Calls" on TV & Radio
Certainly there are times when a casting director or production company holds open calls when casting a movie. Freihofer Casting usually holds open calls for feature films, but those are for extras. If a face comes in that strikes a director's fancy, they may be called in for an audition for a principal (speaking) role. But be careful when you a commercial on the radio about an open call.
We’ve heard them before. A certain kids’ television network is looking for their next big star so thousands of hopefuls hit the mall to strut their stuff. On a very rare occasion, someone is found, but for the most part, those events are funded by the thousands of hopefuls that listen to the sales pitch and then agree to spending thousands of dollars on training.
These events prey upon the parents with expensive shoes and purses, that project the look of financial means. Hardly ever is interest shown in a child performer who's parents appear to be lower to middle income. Just be careful who is making promises, and how much those promises cost.
Also, there should never be a fee to attend an open call.
Legitimate union franchised agencies don't need to advertise for “New or Fresh Faces.” Local and regional agencies commonly get dozens of submissions per month from trained actors, often with credits, headshots and resumes. Why pay for radio or television advertising?
Anybody with a credit card can now buy a nice camera and call themselves a headshot photographer. But do they really understand how to capture your personality, target your materials for types of roles you would play, and shoot with the style LA casting directors and filmmakers are accustomed to seeing?
When searching for a headshot photographer, you should ask actors, acting teachers, agents and casting directors for suggestions.
Shoot with a photographer who shoots actors on a regular basis. At The Factory, we recommend shooting with an L.A. or NYC photographer to assure your photos stack up comparably to the style of headshots producers see in those markets on a regular basis.
A good photographer will show you test shots in the beginning of the shoot and be open to your input. A good photographer will mark shots they think are strong, but will also encourage you to have the shots viewed by an agent and or teacher…and the photographer will not insist on choosing the photo themselves.
A good photographer knows that you are paying for your marketing material…not theirs. They should never insist on putting their name on the front of your photo. They should not over glamorize you, over re-touch your picture or make your skin tone look lighter or darker than it really is. Expect to pay between $300 and $700 for a session with a professional headshot photographer. Some will charge more, some will charge less, but that seems to be the going rate with the pros. They will allow you full access to your images.
Beware of ultra-low-priced headshot sessions--they will make their money by charging you exorbitant prices for duplications. Or, if not, they may not be worth the low price. Remember, you often get what you pay for.
There are a lot of glitzy websites out there promising to get you auditions and help you to find opportunities. Be careful about joining a website that promises to find you auditions in “your area.” Most of them are hokum.
Film, television and commercial auditions come through agencies and sometimes through our Monday Morning Memo, which is distributed free of charge though sites like Casting Networks or Breakdown Services. Many of those opportunities are not made available to the public and only sent to talent agents. If you really want to audition for on camera projects, typically you need great training, headshots and resumes and a talent agent.
However, there are two very legitimate websites that actors seeking professional work should consider joining. Actors Access and Casting Networks are regularly used by legitimate casting directors regionally and nationally. You can join them for free (Casting Networks charges $25 if you don’t have a talent agent) and start receiving their casting calls. Yes, there are also monthly fees.
There are a few other legit casting websites but they aren’t much used in the Actor Factory area. But most of the other websites are just aggregate websites that find casting calls posted in other forums and collect them into their own. By the time you see them, the casting is already completed. Save your money.
You can get your feet wet in student films. Many local colleges and universities have film programs, with student film makers looking for actors. Try calling the schools and ask where you might send a headshot & resume to be considered.
Do Your Homework
There are many more opportunities for people to take your money out there. Do your homework.
As the old adage goes…if it sounds too good to be true…it probably is.
Don’t lose your common sense when starting in the business. If you’re not sure whether something is legit or not….ASK! Google the name of the person or place that seems fishy together with the word “scam” and start reading!
Try calling a local bona fide talent agent and ask if they can spare a minute to answer a question. You can even call us here at The Factory. If possible we will steer you in the right direction.