Are some auditions “bogus?”
You know when you get a great last-minute audition for the next day – the perfect part for you, a leading or supporting role – you work your butt off preparing only to go to the audition, put it on tape with local casting then later find out it was given to an American?
You get ticked off and suspect the director knew all along who they wanted to cast and seeing Canadian talent was just a formality they had to go through to meet our collective agreements’ “Preference of Engagement” clause. You think, “Did anyone even watch my audition?” Hence… “bogus audition.”
In my time at the union, I have repeatedly heard this question asked. In fact, it was the first question I asked when I was elected to the UBCP/ACTRA Executive Board. Every new wave of actors expresses this query. So here we go.
Short answer: No. Auditions are not “bogus” and, yes, they see your audition! The truth is, producers and casting want Canadians to get the job, partly in thanks to our provincial tax incentives (In BC, it’s a 33% rebate on the cost of labour and in Ontario, it’s 21.5% all-in).
Producers and casting want the right person to get the job – and if you happen to be the right person, the fact that you are Canadian is a huge bonus for them.
Theses incentives have made the above two production centres consistently busy. Just look at Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, when their province’s tax credits disappeared, so did the work! But more importantly, producers and casting want the right person to get the job – and if you happen to be the right person, the fact that you are Canadian is a huge bonus for them.
On a recent trip to L.A., it was expressed many times to Lesley Brady, UBCP/ACTRA’s Director of Contracts, that producers are thrilled with the level of talent in BC. Luckily, for decades now we have continued to grow as a community in terms of opportunity, talent and diversity, which has resulted in a deep talent pool. I remember in the ‘80s, there were a handful of agencies and schools. Now I can’t name them all!
But the stark truth is – if a director is intent on casting a friend from L.A. – and the production has considered ACTRA members, there is not much we can do about it. It is their dime and it will cost them.
So, the question is, “to audition, or not to audition?” Personally, I say yes to almost every audition. At the very least it keeps me sharp.
I don’t have time for acting classes so I look at every audition as an opportunity to act.
With my parenting schedule, I don’t have time for acting classes so I look at every audition as an opportunity to act. And sometimes when you read for the larger roles, you will get thrown a meaty bone, a smaller role with lots of days. Or, they will remember you for next time – the casting people in Canada and in L.A.
Many friends of mine decline these suspected “bogus auditions.” They feel empowered saying no and trusting their gut. That can be beneficial to the psyche of an actor as well… and leaves the field more open for me (evil laugh)!
Whatever it is you decide, please know this, your union, your agent, our local casting directors and American producers are rooting for you to get the job.
Ellie Harvie is a Vancouver-based actress, and currently serves as Treasurer on the Executive Board of UBCP/ACTRA and as an ACTRA National Councillor.