January Jones on paid self-tape auditions: ‘Pathetic’
“I’ve personally had to tape myself multiple times since the start of the pandemic, and it’s doing absolutely nothing for those affected,” Jones shared on his Instagram Stories page.
Január Jones joins the debate about self-taping audition practices in Hollywood.
The “Mad Men” alum took to Instagram Stories to address the audition fee and the question of submitting a self-tape as opposed to an in-person reading. “Note to Hollywood: It’s time for casting directors to come back to the office like everyone else. For the actors’ personal audition,” Jones wrote on Instagram (via Species). “And if anyone asks for a FEE to listen, please know that is criminal and DISGUSTING.”
He continued: “I personally have had to tape myself several times since the start of the epidemic, and it is of no benefit to those involved. It’s time-consuming, expensive, and a drag to drag someone in to read with you (sorry mom), and often with zero direction/notes. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for a beginning actor to have to beg for a Zoom (meeting) from an established actor when a face-to-face audition is “not available”. Please do better.”
The number of virtual auditions has increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, some casting agencies charge a fee to review self-taped auditions. Actresses Ever Carradine (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Merrin Dungey (“Big Little Lies”), Claire Coffee (“Grimm”) and Sprague Grayden (“Hightown”) Twitter shout the “nonsense” predatory practice.
Michael Gaston, “Five Days at Memorial” actor wrote“If you’re an actor who pays a casting agency to help you tape an audition, you’re not recording the audition yourself… you’re falling prey.”
SAG-AFTRA executive vice president Ben Whitehair responded that strictly in-person casting is unlikely to happen in the future, but the union is committed to pressuring actors to self-tape.
“There are absolutely a lot of performers who say there shouldn’t be any self-tapes and we should demand that we come back completely in person,” Whitehair said. Deadline. “I don’t think that’s going to happen. There are market forces that are creating a very different reality in today’s economy. However, this does not mean that it cannot be shaped and controlled. In fact, this is the purpose of the union. We exist to help shape that future, and we can’t let productions drive the costs of casting onto the backs of actors.”
SAG-AFTRA issued a statement in response to the controversy.
“Casting agencies that charge actors to create and produce audition tapes are taking our industry in the wrong direction,” the statement read. “It is an optical and ethical disaster. Actors already face undue financial pressure during their work. Casting agencies operating production and audition services are contrary to the principles of fairness and equity in our industry and this practice must be rejected.”
The statement continued: “Furthermore, the evolution of the practice of charging for self-cassettes directly by the same rental organization would be illegal. We know that most of the casting community loves and supports actors, and we need to find a better way to move forward with the common goal of safe, fair, and reasonable audition practices. As a union, we will continue to work to find solutions to mitigate unfair practices and financial burdens on actors, including new restrictions on self-tape in our trade contract, a new 5-page requirement restriction in our low-budget contracts, the creation of the CA Talent Scam Prevention Act, and by supporting the Federal Entertainers Tax Parity Act.”
SAG’s membership policy lists the payment of fees at auditions as a violation of Rule 11, citing “any gift of value as it may be considered a bribe to employees and their representatives.”
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