Week in Review | Feb 25 2013

by Kenji Maeda on February 25, 2013

I didn’t watch the Oscars last night. Did you? All the buzz I was getting through Twitter and friends early in the night surrounded two key topics: “Are we watching the Oscars or the Tony Awards?” and “Seth MacFarlane is sexist .” But by the time the end of the night hit, I was glad to hear that three Canadians won a coveted golden statue.

Instead of watching the Oscars, I attended Project Limelight‘s production of There’s No Place Like Oz. Project Limelight is a program that infuses the possibilities of performance and art into youth aged 8 to 15. Both their matinee and evening performances were sold out. If you have or know of any youth who would be interested in taking part in the program, you should contact them. Gig Morton (@gigmorton), one of the stars of the Mr. Young series, spoke before the performance and talked about the importance of programs like Project Limelight and says that actors should continually ask themselves if it’s something they are passionate about and actually like doing. He went on to say that Mr. Young has been and continues to be a great experience but he also simply loves acting. The takeaway from what he was talking about was simply, you gotta love what you do.

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend the Crazy8s Gala Screening at The Centre. Six short films of varying styles were presented to a packed house. Sure, I may not have loved every single one of the films but the importance of Crazy8s, particularly given the circumstances within our unemployed industry, was clear.  Crazy8s Executive Director, Erik Paulsson, articulated that it’s important to continue to have the foreign industry shooting work here, but it’s also a very critical time for local productions to continue to be produced. The fact is that we have a strong creative sector with very talented people and the more we can produce and sell our own work, the better it will be for the long-term sustainability of this industry.

The last thing I’ll touch on today is something that maybe not have heard about. A couple weeks ago, a notice went out to UBCP background performers about attending a “Meet and Greet” with three Background Casting Directors: Andrea Brown, Sandra Couldwell, and James Forsyth.  It was a one-day event that was held on February 17 at Bridge Studios. Rumours started flying around the purpose of this event as Talent Agents were not notified of the event.  It turns out that the three CDs have started a new online company which catalogues Background Performers for casting. The concern is that that wasn’t communicated in the email or flyer which marketed the event.

Some local Background Talent Agents banded together to get some answers. In an email sent out on Feb 19 by the collective, they mentioned they had previously tried to contact the three casting directors with no response. Here’s an excerpt of part of that email that outlines what they heard happened during the event:

-none of us agents were invited and thus none of us attended the meeting so what transpired there is via our clients telling us their thoughts, feelings and impressions. Again we will try (it is hard to not get caught up in the emotion of this) to just be factual. 

-people arrived, photos were taken, measurements were take and people were taken aside to the casting directors.  It was only then that they were given a card with BCF Casting’s info on it and told about this new database that these 3 casting directors were running.  And that they would no longer be utilizing the services of BG Talent Agencies.

The primary concern expressed by the agents and some actors who have been in contact with me is that the Casting Directors are circumventing the Talent Agents.  Some would argue that it can save an actor some money without having to pay for the commission, but an agent’s role is not only about booking the actor.

We’ve emailed the CD’s and am waiting to hear back to see what they have to say and ask them some questions for clarity.  It’s not new to have a database of actors for background work. There have been a couple websites that have popped up for actor database management.

What makes this one different? What impact will it have for our community of actors, agents, and Casting Directors?  Who will it ultimately benefit?

We’ll keep you updated as we receive more information.

Enjoy your week! I can’t believe we’re already at the end of February.

This post was originally posted in the Vancouver Actor’s Guide February 25 newsletter

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