In this installment of Scams & Vents, a reader brings a scam to our attention. Catrine breaks down how the scam was operated and what they did about it.
I am sending this in because I don’t want anyone else to get ripped off like many of us did many years ago in Salt Lake City. The whole situation got to me so bad that I quit even thinking about being an actor. At that time, a whole lot of Disney movies were being done in Utah. Some TV series too. I always wanted to audition for them, but I had no idea how to. I saw an ad in the paper that a company run by an English guy named Terry (I wish I could remember his last name) had contacts with all of the casting agents. In fact, I think he said he worked as a scout for them. Anyway, he charged $25 per audition that he put on tape and then ‘got them to the casting agent’ for the show. I ended up finding out that this guy had nothing to do with any of the shows and that he was just ripping people off. He would get busted by the State, change the name of his company, and start up again. Unreal. I heard that it was a Hollywood producer who was doing a movie in Salt Lake City who eventually had him really shot down. Just a warning, I don’t want any of you to get ripped off like I did. – Jacob L., Olympia, WA
Catrine McGregor: This vent/scam warning was brought to my attention by Elise, our editor, as she thought that I may want to comment. And I do. For two reasons. First, I am very familiar with the exact company that you are referring to – in fact, I am the one who brought them to the attention of that Hollywood producer. His name is Gerrit van der Meer, and he went on to be the producer on the TV series House, The Blacklist, and Greenleaf. He is the most wonderful, kind, knowledgeable producer I have ever worked for. When I told him about this scam, he called the company on speaker phone, pretending to be an actor interested in auditioning for HIS movie. Terry gave him the whole sales pitch, telling Gerrit that he worked with the company. Gerrit then called him a flagrant liar. He said “Do you know why I know that? Because I’m the producer of the movie, and I’ve never set eyes on you.” CLICK. I think that may have been the final incarnation of his scam business.
With that said, I need to present the other side of the proverbial coin. Had someone asked me this same question ten or fifteen years ago, I would have unequivocally said that it was a scam. But like all things, the casting process has evolved too, if you can call it evolution. No one should EVER, EVER actually PAY for an audition, and if that is the option that is presented to you, run! However, there are more and more auditions that are being accepted on tape. It is much more common to find actors based out of Atlanta, Chicago, Texas – anywhere – who work often in LA. The way this works, typically, is that an actor may be able to ‘self-tape’ for the initial audition, and if they get a callback, they will most likely need to be there in person. Many such ‘self-tapes’ are, in fact, not self-taped, but taped by a professional company that will not only light you and shoot you right, but will have good audio – and some places coach as well. These companies do charge for such services, but they are not connected to the casting director in any way.
Which brings me to my last point, Jacob. I remind people whenever I can that the term ‘casting agent’ actually doesn’t exist. There is a casting DIRECTOR and an AGENT, and never the two shall ever legitimately cross paths!
Have you come across something like this? Are you wondering if something is legitimate? Let us know and we’ll check it out.
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Last modified: August 13, 2017