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Late at night in the comfort of our Airbnb Cast Residence on-location across the country from our homes, an actress and I gabbed about some of the less pleasant ways in which fans show their appreciation for the work we do. We talked about her page on wikifeet and a few other sites I do not wish to share. She asked me if I had ever been called in for the “Shrunken Man Creeper” and I was pretty stumped. She revealed to me that this man had been calling her in for auditions for 10+ years now and has started soliciting auditions under another name in order to take advantage of actresses, recycling the same acting sides for years. I was so glad I had no experience with this creeper, but in order to help protect other performers, she agreed that we needed to go public about his outright and continuous fraud.
Fri, 15 Oct 2010
An audition came in for you from an Independent Producer who’s doing a short film. The information is below. This guy seems like a total novice, and I have no idea who he is, so if you want to skip the audition, that’s fine with me. The only thing he mentioned that sounded good was that he was willing to pay $800 – $1,500 a day, or I wouldn’t even approach you with this. I’ve attached the script. Let me know what you think. If you don’t want to audition and you just want to show him some tape from “[Recent Show],” just send me over a link with some footage, and I’ll just do that.
To [Manager/Manager’s Office],
Hello again. This is in regards to [Actress]’s audition for my film project. I’m having auditions at the Edge Dance Studio, 1020 Cole Ave., 4th floor, Hollywood, 90038. And I could audition [Actress] at 2:40pm. Because of LA traffic, I recommend that she arrive early, maybe 20 – 30 minutes. Is this date & time okay with her?
Also, for [Actress]’s audition, could she please wear a nice outfit, nice dressy form-fitting shirt, dressy boots with thickish high-heels or similar shoes, & 1 or 2 rings on her right hand & left hand too?
For her 15 – 20 minute audition, I’ll be asking her to react to her shrunken guy friend in several different ways as she looks down at him & holds him in her hand – professional, concerned, friendly, flirty, diva-ish, sinister, etc. I hope this is okay too.
When we start filming any of the projects I’d told you about, I will make sure it is SAG or AFTRA for Ms. [Actress].
Please let me know if this date & time, & outfit, is okay with [Actress] soon, & I hope we can work this all out.
Regards, William Shulte III
Yeah, I left his name. I don’t think it’s caring to hide his name given the nature of this piece about protecting actors from #AuditionFraud.
Sat, June 15, 2013
Hello there. I’d contacted you recently regarding Ms. [Actress]’s involvement in my film project, The Little Solutions. I’m a script writer, director & budding filmmaker, & I’m working on one of my first film projects, The Little Solutions. In fact, I’m planning several independent film projects. First is a series of shorts films, that I plan to showcase at a number of film fests, SciFi / Fantasy fests, etc. The other project is a full length feature with similar themes. They’ll probably be filmed around the San Francisco Bay Area. However, I will fully compensate [Actress] for her travel & hotel expenses with no problems. In addition, I’m planning to start filming next year. Yes, it will be a SAG production. Although I’m not sure if Ms. [Actress] is a SAG member, my film project will be set-up so I can film with union & non-union talent. In addition, my project is posted on Explore Talent & Casting 360 with more info. Also, I’m not sure what the payment is for [Actress], but I can pay $650 – $700 a day, for a 4 – 5 day shoot, plus travel expenses, etc. It’s a Fantasy / Science Fiction themed project, & the basic plot is regarding several groups of female special agents, scientists & witches who shrink men down small. It’s somewhat like Honey I Shrunk the Kids & Charmed. And so far, there are at least 5 main female leads. Also, I’ll be working with a great & professional production company, Roaring Mouse Productions in Santa Rosa, CA & several cinematographers, including one in Santa Cruz who are also interested in working on my project. Here’s Roaring Mouse Production‘s website – http://www.roaringmouseproductions.com/ My production company is The Wildstar Productions, facebook.com/william.shulte, but it’s still in its infancy. However, I’m very optimistic about my projects! I can send you several very good references from Roaring Mouse Production, a cinematographer & three other actresses who I’ve worked with. They’ll probably say that I’m great & easy to work with, professional, patient & imaginative. […]
The auditions will most likely be at the Millennium Dance Complex. And I’m really hoping Ms. [Actress] could audition for either Heather, Amy or Jacaranda. Also, each of these female characters shrinks several men down tiny for several different reasons in the script I’m working on. In addition, her audition would be 15 – 20 minutes, which I’ll ask her to react to her shrunken friend, hold him on her hand, look down at him, & react to him in several different scenarios – concerned, friendly, flirty, professional & sinister. And these scenarios will help me determine which role would be best for her. So could Ms. [Actress] please audition for my film project on July 16, Tuesday in Los Angeles? I’m sure we can work everything out. If she can hopefully audition, I’ll send you further info on the process. My cell number is [omitted] & my home # is [omitted]. I really hope this works out & I’ll look for your reply.
Regards, William Shulte III
When reaching out to Roaring Mouse Production, the owner said that “Billy Shulte is not a representative of my company” and that although they know each other and the owner doesn’t believe there is ill intent on Mr Shulte’s part, they are not in business together and Roaring Mouse should not be named in any pitch materials.
Though the emails kept coming and the auditions continued, agents and managers were no longer in the loop.
Mon, Sep 14, 2015
To Ms. [Actress],
Hello there. I saw your great pics & resume’ on Casting Frontier, so I wanted to get in contact with you, & hopefully you’ll be interested in a lead role in my film project. Also, I’ve been enjoying your great work & I’m a huge fan of yours! I’m a script writer, director & budding filmmaker, & I’m working on one of my first film projects, The Small Answers. In fact, I’m planning several independent film projects. First is a full length feature that I plan to showcase at a number of film fests, SciFi / Fantasy fests, etc. The other project is a series of short films with similar themes. In addition, I’m still working on the short film scripts & the full length script, which I’m hoping to finish early next year. However, I’ll probably have the script for the FX Special Effects test shoot done later this fall, & I may use this shoot for a Kickstarter. They’ll likely be filmed around the Los Angeles area or the San Francisco Bay Area, but we can cover your travel & hotel expenses. And I’m hoping to start filming early next year.
It’s a Fantasy / Science Fiction themed project that involves several groups of female Special Agents, scientists & witches who shrink men down small. It’s somewhat like Charlie’s Angels, Honey I Shrunk The Kids & Charmed. These Agents & scientists want to use their shrink-ray device to reduce the criminal population, scientific purposes, etc. But several rogue Agents want to use the device to shrink all the men in the city & take over for starters.
Also, I’ve been working with several other filmmakers & cinematographers who are interested in working on my project, & I’m looking for a good independent film distributor. In fact, an executive producer from Paramount Studios is very interested in my script. My project is also posted on Now Casting & Explore Talent, but if you have any questions, please let me know. And this project will be SAG or SAG low budget, but we can work with both union & non-union talent. I hope this is not a problem with you. Also we’re working on getting the rest of the crew together.
The auditions will be between October 21 – November 2, & I’m having auditions for the main female roles at Cast In Hollywood Studios in Los Angeles. I know it’s a little early to start planning your audition, but I also know how busy it is for an LA actress! So would you be interested in auditioning for a lead role? And would this time frame hopefully work with you for your audition?
I’d especially like for you to audition for either Amanda, Annette or Sarah. So here’s a short description of them –
Amanda’s a very pretty, elite, but young special agent for “Hera”, who works directly under Alexandra for the science & technology division [….] Even though Amanda’s somewhat naive, she’s very smart, clever, serious, bold & determined. In addition, she’s also very charming, outgoing, understanding, inquisitive & friendly. In addition, her secret admirer Albert is willing to be tested & shrunk by her. She is slender, caucasian, age 19 – 25. […] In addition, like Councilwoman Summers, Annette is very admired in the community, & by the Hera Agents. Wayne has the biggest crush on the lovely Councilwoman Annette Reed, & wants to be shrunk down by her! She’s very attractive, age 21 – 28. […]
For your 20 – 25 minute audition, I’ll be asking you to react to your shrunken suitor in several different ways. I’m not sure what your payment is, but I really think we can work it out, $350 – $400 a day, for a 5 – 7 day shoot. And I may ask you to shoot a short film for 2 – 3 days, also for the same payment. In addition, I might ask you to do a Special Effects / FX Screen Test shoot too, which I can pay you for as well. Also for your audition, I’ll ask you to dress nicely – nice form-fitting shirt, shorts or nice pants, dressy boots with thickish high-heels, & one or two nice silver rings on each hand (important!). Plus, nice make-up & jewelry. Dressing like this will also really help you get into character!
We’ll do everything possible to work around your schedule for your Oct audition & later shoots. So I very much hope we can work everything out!
My email is [omitted] & my cell number is [omitted]. Please reply when you get this message. Then after you write back, I’ll start planning your audition with more info, audition scenarios you’ll be reacting to, exact time & it’ll be great to hear from you.
Regards, Billy Shulte III
I called Explore Talent to discuss these job postings, inquire about the language in the postings, and about the actresses who went out for the auditions – but a representative for the company searched and found no history of these job postings. He went on to explain that this director wouldn’t have passed their background checks and couldn’t have posted if he tried. This representative looked at Twitter and other social accounts of William Shulte’s online presence and immediately flagged him. Explore Talent prides themselves on doing background verification for all postings to deter projects and creators like this from preying on their talent, especially the underage talent accounts.
I called Casting Frontier, Now Casting (unable to accept my call), Casting 360 (unreachable by phone), and I had no official responses before this article was published. I will update this article with corrections or official statements as they come in.
Mon, Sep 21, 2015
From an actress to her team:
Just a heads up, this William Shulte is a creep with some sick problems. He’s been trying to get in contact with me for about five years. I don’t know how he got my e-mail, but he sent me this.
Earlier today, he called my commercial agents and they had no idea it wasn’t a legitimate inquiry. He may try to reach out to your office next. […]
Sat, Apr 23, 2016
It begins with the same form email until…
[…] For your 15 – 20 minute audition, I’ll be asking you to react to your shrunken suitors in several different ways. I’m not sure what your payment is, but I really think we can work it out, $450 – $500 a day, for a 5 – 7 day shoot. And I may ask you to shoot a short film for 2 – 3 days, also $300 a day. In addition, I might ask you to do a Special Effects / FX Screen Test shoot too, which I can pay you for as well. Also for your audition, I’ll ask you to dress nicely. […] Regards, William Shulte III, The Wildstar Productions
He continually lets these actresses know that they will be auditioning for the same project in dozens of ways, always for 15-20 minute auditions. If you are not an actor or on this side of the film industry, you should know that this is incredibly abnormal and a red flag from the beginning.
Fri, June 22, 2018
From a public online forum (posted with permission):
“In 2011, I got a request for an audition through my manager. Spidey-sense went up – at that point, I was only beginning to establish myself, and requests outside the casting world were rare. The sides seemed weird… I looked the guy up. No IMDB credits, but his social media showed two alarming things: lots of interaction with my pages and lots of interactions with women who played to the “giantess” fetish. Google it. The only movie that earned me any fans had a scene where the guy was shrunk down and I was giant. This was a CHILDREN’S movie. The sides for the audition were all about a giant woman holding a small man in her hands. My team and I politely (creeped out) refused the audition. Since 2011, this man has contacted every rep I have from regional to commercial to vo and manager, until as recently as a year ago. He found my cell phone number and personal e-mail. He’s creep AF. But I thought it was just me.
Cut to: yesterday. I was at a wonderful legit audition when I was approached by a strange man in the waiting room. A strange man who started quivering when he saw me and approached me four times. To make a long story short, he was running an audition in a nearby room for his “Small” project. He is doing this to all kinds of women. And never producing these so-called projects. Which means, we can all connect the dots on what these auditions are being used for. The worst? He was calling in underage girls too. So, I have to sigh and put on my big girl pants and do something about it now. I pulled aside the only actor I saw there for his project and told her what I’ve told you. She decided to go in anyway. Whatcha gonna do. I know it’s hard to not to laugh at this effed up fetish, but it’s real and the weirdness of it is probably one reason he’s getting away with it. What do I do? Is this illegal? It’s not sexual, at least not in an obvious way. I’m betting there’s no union involvement, despite what he would say. I told the wonderful CD I was there to see and he immediately took me to the office manager where they assured me he wouldn’t be there again… but he’s going to go somewhere else. […] I am 100% certain – this man is collecting audition tapes of women acting like giant ladies and using them for his own disgusting purposes.“
And then the comments…
- Actress: “OMG HE AS EMAILED ME FIVE TIMES! My Spidey senses also went up and never auditioned.”
- Partner to an Actress: “Wow! [Actress] had a similarly creepy audition experience, albeit not at full-on stalker level like this situation. It was supposedly an independent feature and her manager actually sent her out. The guy had the project up on breakdowns and it was supposedly SAG. The guy was similarly unknown/no imdb credits. The thing was supposed to be cold reads, so no sides were provided. She kind of thought it might not be a great project, but there was no indication of creepiness. We were going to be in that part of town that day, so I drove her to the audition. I waited in the car. And apparently there was no CD, no one else in the room at all, and he provided a very overtly sexual scene (not properly written in screenplay format) and closed the door. He read the scene with her himself and then “acted” with her. He put his arms around her and was like breathing down her neck. She left and came back in sort of shock. I was in full on dumb macho dude mode– alla “Im going in there to kick this guys ass” or whatever. Which was not the appropriate response, and [Actress] asked me not to go in. She just wanted me to drive away. She proceeded to call our manager who called breakdown services and SAG. SAG sent out a do not work notice and the guy was blocked from Breakdowns. But it’s just not enough. This industry breeds a culture of young actors who are “eager to please” in order to get a good part, but then it seems that any creep on the planet with no credentials whatsoever can get a “project” up on casting sites with no problem. It’s ridiculous. And this happened to [Actress] after being in LA in for several years, having full representation, and knowing the business pretty well. There were minor red flags that the project may not be totally legit, but the gut reaction of “what does it hurt to just go in, if the project is no good I’ll just decline” isn’t always a safe decision. We must be diligent. Good for you for standing up. Sorry you had to go through this.”
- Actress: “A gal on the thread says she thinks she‘s seen him and […] A few other women have been contacted by him as well in the group!”
- Actress: “He emailed me multiple times. I declined for the same weird vibes. He found my personal number and called over and over again FOR YEARS. He’s a total creep.”
A few years later…
Wed, Sep 22, 2021 (yes, 2021!)
To [Manager /Management Company],
Hello again. This is Paula. I believe I had the pleasure of contacting you some months ago regarding Ms. [Actress]. After a few setbacks, we’re back to working on Magical Science. To recap, I saw Ms. [Actress]’s great resume & photos, & several of her roles, & she’s been selected to audition for Magical Science for a lead role. My script writer & filmmaker Bill is also a big fan of hers! It’s posted on Mandy.com & soon Explore Talent. And, I was hoping [Actress] could please submit a ‘video’ audition soon, within the next two weeks or thereabouts. We’re still working on the first script, which should be done by late fall, however we believe [Actress] would be awesome for a lead special agent role. The first shoot will be early next year around the San Francisco Bay Area, with consideration to the Covid situation. However, we can cover her transportation, hotel, etc. By the way, all Covid safety precautions will be in effect. Payment is $500 a day, for 4 – 7 days. Also, when you reply, I’ll send you the audition process to send to her, & I hope to hear from you soon.
Also, I just spoke with Bill, the script writer and director of Magical Science, and we both agree that the film project will be SAG low budget or SAG Ultra low budget. Either way, we’ll be able to work with both union and non-union cast members, and hopefully work with [Actress] as well.
In addition, Bill is very interested in having [Actress] play a lead in his ambitious and imaginative film project, a lead special agent role actually. He says that she’s very talented, charming, funny and gorgeous, all of which I agree with, and that he’s more than willing to work with her busy schedule. The film project as a whole has been pushed to early next year, 2022, so he’s hoping that’ll give us enough time to arrange our busy work schedules & locations for the shoots.
By the way, Magical Science will be filmed around the San Francisco Bay Area and the Santa Cruz area, however, her transportation and hotel stay will be covered.
We hope with this message we can work on this project, and we’re looking forward to hopefully working with Ms. [Actress].
Warmest regards, Paula Rader, email@example.com
I spoke with a representative at Mandy.com (project posting site), there are no postings for “Magical Science” or Paula Rader or William Shulte or Bill Shulte and I have sent them further inquiries to ask them to continue searching and red flag this project in the event that underage actors may be responding. One thing the representative noted is that Mandy.com does do background checks and if this was a project without sufficient evidence that it is an actual job offer, it would not have been posted.
I cannot for the life of me begin to consider this as a different project, a different “Bill,” or even a different email author.
He still came back to try again in 2021. Something is wrong. He’s been reported before, but nothing has happened. He needs to be publicly named so that more actors/managers/agents/casting sites/ and production companies can all stay clear of working with someone who has taken advantage of so many women with YEARS of casting tapes filled with fetish material. His worst crime may just be creepiness, but it may also be fraud.
Either way, “we”/job creators must demand excellence of ourselves to not do a casting call or waste an actor’s time if we are not absolutely ready to go into production AND “we”/actors must call in every single red flag about a project and request a full feature script with every single audition. Yes, tell casting directors and writers and production companies that the protection of actors starts with sending FULL scripts (NDAs are fine, too), we just need a way to gauge the seriousness of the producibility of a project if we cannot verify anything else.
If we are not requiring a full feature script with every red flag audition, we are normalizing the erosion of the audition process. My guard is up, I’m tense, I’m on alert for nefarious meanings, and I’m not acting anymore. And I’m toning down any insinuation of sex. I want the freedom to act in auditions again. Sometimes it’s the only acting I get to do at all in the slow audition seasons. I want to take back the audition room, so please be diligent with me.
Why hasn’t this been published before??
It has. Oh, it has.
Wed, June 4, 2014
From Hayley Derryberry ‘s “I Accidently Did Porn”: “It turns out that there is a fetish for just about anything you can think of. Someone with a sexual fetish obtains arousal from a nonsexual object or situation. For as long as I’ve been going out on auditions, I’ve come across obvious fetish scams, things like “woman in heels driving sports car”. I thought I was pretty good at spotting and avoiding them, but only just recently I let one slip by and I got duped. While I can’t change what I’ve already done, I hope that my experience will help someone else avoid the same mistake. […]
Then the “filmmaker” emailed me trying to book an audition date months in advance. He also explained what the project would be like and that the audition would be improvised and he sent me the scenarios I would be acting out. The project was to be a Sci Fi movie with a group of female agents who develop a shrink ray and shrink men down to ½ inch tall. He went on to say that because of the nature of the film, the audition would be taped from various angles and from the shrunken man’s POV. He also sent me very specific guidelines for what to wear on the day of my audition including boots and multiple silver rings on each hand. […]
I went to the audition. At the audition it was just “the filmmaker” and his handheld camera. The first thing he commented on was that I wasn’t wearing boots. He seemed upset about this but let it go. Then he asked me to improvise the scenes he had described. He would kind of act out the scene in front of me and then have me do it. Again I just chalked it up to his inexperience and tried to remain a good little actor. He had me stand on a step stool while he shot me from a low angle. He never asked me to say anything sexual. It was all very normal conversation stuff. Then he asked me to hold the shrunken man in my hand and talk to him. When it got weird is that he asked me to talk to the shrunken man with my mouth right up to him almost as if I could swallow him. Then he would change a small detail like have me talk abnormally slow or bend my fingers a certain way and ask me to do it again. […]”
Read this full article on MsInTheBiz.com HERE, Kayley gives great insight on what she ‘did’ do and what she ‘should have’ done. So, happened when this was published?? Nothing. Because William Shulte III’s “Magical Science” was posted in 2021 while this article came out in 2014 and has been an open discussion on social media groups online since 2018. So, it seems that his Time isn’t Up yet.
But is this fraud?
A person closer to William Shulte III said that he has “high aspirations” and so these kinds of failed filmmaking attempts over the years can just be considered the norm. As it IS! I have personally been connected to dozens of films with over a decade of stops and starts and worked on projects that never saw the light of day. William Shulte III did do green screen tests with footage, so something was happening for a minute. There is a history online across his social media presence that he’s been working towards making this passion project for over a decade. I’ve changed my film’s titles over the years whilst trying to get them made. I’ve had more than one casting session for project. I know EXACTLY WHAT THAT FEELS LIKE!
Yes, this tracks with the film industry. And I wouldn’t blink an eye to this if I hadn’t been made aware that these actresses feel like they are being harassed, that they are unsafe, that they are the victim of fraud. And that their videos are being used for a specific purpose not stated in the audition notice or audition invitation email. And all of these auditions contain a character with a questionable age range (based on their job) that could invite underage girls to submit. And, most importantly, I believe women.
Is this normal for actresses?
Earlier this year, on Easter Sunday no less, I was called by a European director I had never met. He told me he was interested in me as the lead of his upcoming film. It was a very involved and emotional project and required a ton of rehearsal work. He wanted to fly me to New York for the official audition. But on the phone he wanted to know if I was interested in taking on such a role. He claimed to be director Hugh Welchman of “Loving Vincent.” On the phone I checked out his previous works, his legitimacy in the film industry, and even secretly looked him up on YouTube while he was talking to gauge his accent to be similar to interviews with the director he claimed to be. I was satisfied in that moment that it was him, but still, I felt uncomfortable. He asked me over and over to deny my “American Female” desire to react strongly against a male director telling her what to do. I had to be completely vulnerable, as he instructed. He asked me to lie down on the ground and do “Energy Work” with him over the phone (with him in London and myself in Los Angeles). He berated me for not complying to his demands that I completely and vulnerably let go. He asked me continuously more invasive and inappropriate questions, it felt awful. He asked me to say “Yes” or “No” to a long series of questions with my eyes closed, it went on forever. He asked me if I truly loved being married, I said “yes.” He stopped his questions right away and changed the subject. He seemed to want me to not be happily married, he was upset by my response. I was definitely DONE with that phone call and explained that it was EASTER SUNDAY and he called claiming I was recommended to him by a colleague I had worked with over 10 years ago, he took almost 2 hours of my Sunday with a fraudulent audition process that took me away from my family because I’m so desperate for this kind of work that I would make that choice.
I was mortified. I still hope that this wasn’t some radio host punking me for 2 hours, but I don’t know for sure. I felt scared. All I know is that someone took advantage of my desperation for leading roles in feature films, international travel, and artistically challenging works. I told myself 100 times during that call to just hang up on him, but I kept wondering if I was being irrational – because after all, I do have an “American Female” desire to push back against male directors. But what happened stuck with me and gave me anxiety for weeks. I still feel sick over it. I feel awful.
From A Predator Is Impersonating an Oscar-Winning Filmmaker: “He’s the Perfect Con Man” by Alex Ritman, “In early September, British filmmaker Hugh Welchman began receiving a series of bizarre and angry messages under his Instagram posts. They all came from one actress. An Oscar-winning producer for the 2007 animated short Peter and the Wolf, but perhaps best-known as the co-director of 2017’s Vincent van Gogh biographical drama Loving Vincent — considered the first fully painted feature (and a runner-up to Coco at the Academy Awards) — Welchman didn’t know the woman at all. Yet the messages implied some sort of unsolicited relationship, describing him as a “predator.” Beneath a post in which he discussed his wife, the actress responded by saying “if only” she knew what he’d done to her on Skype. […]
As it turned out, this wasn’t the first time his manager had heard about this. A different actress emailed in late May to say that she had been phoned by a man claiming to be the filmmaker, but she could tell that it was a hoax. Thinking this was just a one-off, Neumann didn’t feel the need to trouble his client at the time.
Feeling rather disturbed by what he’d heard, on Sept. 22 Welchman posted a video on Instagram warning about a “con man creep pretending to be me,” urging anyone who had been contacted to report it to authorities. As he pointed out, he “would never cold call any actors, actresses or crew.”
Then the messages steadily started flowing in, mostly from women in L.A. and New York, with one in Texas. Welchman started putting together a database of the victims, detailing the experiences they’d had with the imposter. As it currently stands, there are 13 who have come forward, the earliest call dating back to May 2020, the most recent taking place mid October. There may be many more out there. The calls may still be going on.
But this isn’t simply a case of identity theft. And unlike similar-sounding phone scams, such as the notorious Hollywood Con Queen, there’s no apparent financial profiteering involved — the motive here appears to be purely sexual.
Clearly adept at manipulation, the charlatan uses the classic lure of a potential film role (with an Academy Award-winning filmmaker) to push his targets into deeply uncomfortable and personal conversations, often spending hours on the line each time. On several occasions, he’s coerced the women to move to a video call, where at least three have exposed themselves for him. Thankfully, his requests to actually meet up with his targets — at the least those that Welchman knows about — have been rejected. The LAPD has now assigned a detective to the case.
Claiming that he had studied meditation, he then asked Mamie if she’d do some “energy work” with him to help “break down the walls.” As someone who practiced meditation herself, it didn’t seem too crazy, so she did as he said, lying down on the bed in the bedroom where she was taking the call (ushering her husband away in the process — “in my mind it was still a legitimate thing.”) […]
[…] “Everybody’s really vulnerable, especially in the acting industry here in L.A., where it’s kind of shut down right now,” says Mamie.
“He’s the perfect con man,” adds Capozzi. “He’s preying on a vulnerable industry at the most vulnerable time. He knows what he’s doing and he’s been doing it for months.”
And as far as the evidence suggests, he’s still doing it.“
Something must be done
Most actresses I know have a handful of stories of feeling taken advantage of by a male director promising the world, promising a role that’ll challenge and inspire. We aren’t trading sexual favors for these promises (times have changed a little bit), but we are trading hours of our life to a fraud and they have FOOTAGE of us doing it. In my worst moments, I wonder what those men are doing with that footage. But I think it’s clear that the perverted power dynamic that took place is damage enough. I want taped auditions, self-taped auditions, and virtual auditions being recorded to have some kind of software based legal limitations or – and I’m absolutely serious – pay actors for the right to record them for consideration.
I’ve auditioned 100s of times so 100s of tapes exist out in the ether of me acting in ways that could feel detrimental to my life and career if they were used past consideration for a role. I was not paid for these tapes. I trust Casting Directors, I trust the Casting Society of America. I do not trust every person putting out a casting call. None of us should. Can we change that?
Taping was normalized because casting directors taping for producers made sense! Big powerful studio decision makers and network producers need to sign off and don’t need to be in the room. They are legitimately too busy. I’ve been in LA since 2007, I remember when norms switched from ‘Can I put you on tape for producers?’ to pressing record without permission. It’s THAT recent. And now the self-tape is impossible to address because of the pandemic. But, hear me out, we need to stop taping for ANYONE who isn’t a legit casting director. Smaller indie directors and their teams CAN open their schedule for 1-2 days to see live virtually streamed auditions at set audition times. And these sessions should not be recorded without compensation. And more than 1 person needs to be on the director/producer side of the call for safety purposes. But most importantly, if directors/producers are not gonna jump through that hoop (knowing actors are constantly filming themselves, constantly sacrificing their time and worth, and paying a dozen different services to compete in this business), then you shouldn’t get to hold a casting session. At all. It’s about time that the actor isn’t assumed to be the one who has to bend over their intuition line every other audition, the director/producer/casting director should adjust THEIR habits to create an environment where actors are not in danger of predatory practices on a daily basis. Can we create this change to protect actors?
And will there actually be a detective assigned to this case?
Before your next audition
If the sides (script sent to the actor to prepare for the audition, usually only a few pages) put you in ANY position or situation where you may feel even slightly uncomfortable, ask your representative to do these things OR do them yourself:
- Request filming dates/location/production company, verify this information to be correct (phone numbers are usually on production company websites, IMDbPRO, or contact the casting service directly to ask if they did this diligence)
- Contact the casting service directly to ‘flag’ the material as needing a background check on who is casting the project and that you request that they approve sending the full feature or episode script for verification. (Backstage, Explore Talent, Breakdown services, … already offer background checks on their casting notices, can make this a standard across every single casting site?)
- Tell a rep or a friend that you want a person to text before AND after the audition to make sure you are in contact with someone immediately after the audition to verify if you felt like it was an appropriate casting experience.
- If you feel in your gut that something is fishy, tell the director or producer directly that something feels off about this script and “Who will be in the audition room?” and “I’m seeing potential red flags, can I talk to someone on your team about this project?”
I HATE that I’m suggesting these measures for women and not suggesting men go to these auditions in place of women and have ‘the talk’ with men putting out creeper vibes (not a bad idea, probably). But so many of these women here stated that their intuition told them something was wrong and they felt like they didn’t want to overreact and thus the harassment continued.
I’m suggesting that we shut that sh*t down right out the gate – hang up, walk out, report, or forward to someone who should take care of the creepers. Your job will recover, your reps will support you, and even when you DO overreact, our community will lift you up in validating that you need to follow your intuition even when it’s only correct 75% of the time. If you’re walking out on [insert famous director]’s audition, it’s his loss, truly.
Moving forward, report any misconduct to the Legal Network for Gender Equity and the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund HERE: https://nwlc.org/legal-assistance/
If you need public solidarity to connect to one another (I do): use #AuditionFraud across all social platforms.
PS. Still convinced he wasn’t ACTUALLY supplying his own personal self gratification videos as the primary reason for booking actresses for fake auditions?? See below.
NSFW Content Warning: Nudity, Sexual Nudity, Giantess fetish, Pornographic images