When you’re paying to work, that’s when alarm bells should start ringing. That’s why, despite what your thoughts are on unpaid work. I’d urge everyone to avoid jobs that don’t even offer to pay your expenses. At the very worst, you don’t make any money out of a job. You should never find yourself paying out your own money to get experience.
So, why do casting websites charge actors to access paid work that they post on their site? Why are actors finding themselves paying up when productions don’t have to pay to post their casting calls? Surely this is madness? If this was happening in any other industry then people would’ve had something to say about it. Now, I realise casting websites have overheads. Despite how it may seem, I’m not that naïve. I realise that you can’t run a business on fresh air alone. But why is it falling to the actor to cover these costs?
Of course, the websites are there to serve actors and help us find work but surely these websites are also there for production companies too to help them find performers? Spotlight aside, I currently pay to use one casting site. I pay £20 a month to be able to access the paid work that they advertise and I used to justify this to myself because one paid job a year would usually pay this money back. I used to be confident of the fact that I’d at least get my £240 back if not more. And I did. This particular website used to earn me at least triple that every year so I felt that paying was OK. But now I don’t earn anything from it. In the last year, this website has earned me £120. That’s it. And it’s now that I’m starting to realise what little value for money that really is.
Obviously this is just me. I know other actors who’ve done far better from this site. But I also know a lot of actors who’ve got next to nothing from it. However, the fact remains that these websites make a heck of a lot of money out of actors with no promise of us getting a return from it. Now I realise this website isn’t in charge of the industry nor is it responsible for my career. However, this site today advertised 16 paying jobs and a whopping 76 unpaid jobs. If actors are paying to use a site then surely we should be able to expect some form of control over the work that is advertised? The more I think of it, the more unfair these websites seem. Not only do actors have to pay to use the site but they also have to prove themselves before they’re allowed to join. Often actors need to have a minimum amount of professional credits to their name before they’re allowed the privilege of paying to find work. But, again, the production companies have nothing asked from them. Those who follow me on Twitter and Tumblr will know that when it comes to castings, very little quality control is put in place.
But of course, as usual, it’s actors who put up with this sort of treatment so it’s actors who continue to pay.