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CASTING DIRECTOR COLD READING WORKSHOPS

Before we explain these to you, we want to warn you: DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS UNTIL YOU HAVE REACHED A CERTAIN LEVEL OF COMPETENCE, WHICH YOU CAN ONLY ACQUIRE AFTER HAVING TAKEN SOME SERIOUS ACTING CLASSES IN HOLLYWOOD. (See ACTING TEACHERS/COACHES/SCHOOLS.)
Here’s how these all basically work:

  1. You audition in order to be allowed to join the workshop. Do not join a group that doesn’t ask you to audition; it means they’ll let anyone in and that can lead to disaster.
  2. Once you’re a member, you will receive a calendar of events, usually a month to two months per calendar. Each “event” is a session with a casting director, talent agent, or occasionally, a producer or director.
  3. You choose the ones you wish to attend and sign up as quickly as possible, since they tend to fill up rapidly. Each session is paid for separately (the various groups offer different ways to pay and some include discounts if you buy “tickets” in advance).
  4. The casting people (CDs) usually bring their own sides and after a relatively short Q & A (by law in California, they cannot take your money if they don’t give you a “lesson” in return, thus the lecture or Q & A), they hand out the sides, pair you up with a scene partner, and give you about 15 minutes to rehearse. You return to the room and perform your short scene for the CD.
  5. In the case of agents looking for new clients, they are not expected to provide the sides. The group may provide them from a stash they’ve kept, or allow you to bring in your own material.

It’s that simple. The purpose is obvious: To give actors a controlled way to meet casting directors who might otherwise never call them in for an actual audition, since they have no idea whatsoever what the actor’s talent level may be. The hope is that the workshop will eventually lead to a real, live audition. Many actors are disappointed when they begin to realize that it can take months, sometimes years, before these workshops start to pay off, but for the well-trained, diligent actor, they almost surely will. A single booking at the day player rate (upwards of $750 in 2008) will pay you back for the 15 or 20 workshops you may have taken.

Look at it this way: There are no guarantees in life. You have two choices – you either do these workshops and hope for the best, while doing your best, or you don’t and let your competition (yeah, that’s what they are, folks – the competition) do them, without you to impede their upward climb. The casting people will get to know whomever of you actually shows up for these very necessary workshops. So, who’s it gonna be? Them or you?

Another little warning: There are a lot of whiners and nay-sayers in this business. You will hear the occasional high-and-not-so-mighty moaner and groaner grousing about what a “rip-off” these workshops are – how actors shouldn’t have to pay to audition – blah, blah, blah. Well, guess what: We ALL thought that same thing when they first started back in the 1990s, but there have been far too many positive results for us to continue to worry about any of that.

You came to Hollywood to act, right? Well, these workshops are an opportunity to do just that. If you’re going to attend them, do it with the right attitude, because if you walk in the door with a chip on your shoulder, you will blow any chance you had to favorably impress the casting person, agent, or director who is spending his or her time to get to know your work. So what if they’re making a little money at the same time. That is really none of your business, now is it? After all, you don’t think you’re the only person who wants to earn a little bit more money, while still doing what you love, do you…?

As for our first warning…casting directors are like elephants: They never forget…a bad performance or an unpleasant attitude. That’s why we urge you to wait until you are truly ready before participating in these workshops.

A few of the best:

ACT NOW! www.actnownetwork.com
ACTORSITE www.actorsite.com
IN THE ACT WEST (ITAW) www.itaproductions.com
ONE ON ONE www.oneononeproductions.com
SIGNATURE STUDIOS www.signaturestudiosla.com

Please note: There is no good reason on earth to pay a high fee just to join one of these groups. Most of them charge a nominal processing fee after they accept you into the group, but there are a couple out there (not on our list!) who charge several hundred dollars just to join. We’re not talking about paying in advance for the workshops; we’re talking about a fee to join. Shall we say that one more time? A. Fee. To. Join.

Do. Not. Do. It.

Needless to say, your own cold reading skills must be excellent. If they aren’t, start working on them now, so that when you are really ready to start meeting the people who will influence your entire career, you’ll know and they’ll know that you are, indeed, a pro.

About Kris Malone

Kris Malone is the nom de plume of a longtime Hollywood talent agent. Kris created this website as a way for actors to improve their chances of making it in Hollywood, not as a way to reach the agency for possible representation. Kris wishes all of you actors out there the best of luck, laced with a big dose of reality and plain old common sense.

6 comments

  1. Thanks for the suggestion, Steve. Could you tell us how to reach Coffee Chatter?

  2. A lot of the Aussies, including myself, frequent Coffee Chatter.
    Regular visits by leading CD’s, agents and even producers and directors on occasion, make this place one that seems easier to be “seen” by those who matter.
    For myself, it’s a bit of a drive (I’m in Glendale) but certainly worth it.
    Those more central will find it no trouble geting there, even on surface roads, but parking is sometimes a problem with a “resident permit only” system in place on some adjoining streets.

  3. Great info! Thank you for sharing with your fellow actors! All for one and one for all…!!!

  4. I have been to all of the casting director workshop places and the best one I’ve found was the folks at Actors West, at ActorsWest.com They have casting directors who are very busy and extremely helpful.

    They do not charge monthly fees like the ones listed above and the costs are cheaper than the other places. They are in a really cool office building that is quiet and not noisy like the other places in north hollywood.

    It is about 20 minutes west of Hollywood, which I think is why they call themselves Actorswest. The staff that run the place are working actors, really funny people and know their stuff. I’ve gotten I think four auditions from casting directors I’ve met there and booked a regional commercial through one of the casting directors I worked with there.

  5. Another good casting wrokshop with a twist is Coffee Chatter.

    Coffee Chattre offers casting sessions where you come and talk directly with casting, directors, working actors etc. Its open to anyone 18 and over.

  6. Michael Joshnil

    I have to say that i wholeheartedly agree with this article. I have been taking workshops at The Network Studio and it has been working awesome for me. The staff is nice and they have better guest then the other places and are affordable. If you want to take workshops they are the place to go!
    http://www.thenetworkstudio.com
    Hope that helps 😉

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