Guidance on vetting casting notices
In general, professional auditions and casting meetings pose no risk of harm to Equity members. However, there are occasions where casting opportunities are fake and may lead to a member of the union being exposed to abusive behaviour and conduct.
Equity has zero tolerance of those who seek to intimidate, manipulate or harm members of the union through the use of fake casting opportunities. You should never be expected to compromise your emotional or physical well-being for an audition.
Please follow this essential guide to verifying casting notices, and always check with Equity first where you have any doubts about a casting notice being genuine. If you have an agent ask them to help in the verification process.
Checking the status of casting notices
- Be cautious about casting notices that have been published outside of mainstream casting platforms (for example Spotlight) including in on social media.
- You should always seek to verify the background and status of the person who has published a casting notice. You can check that a casting director is based in a legitimate production team or casting office by checking whether they are a member of the Casting Directors Guild (CDG) or Casting Directors Association (CDA).
- You should also undertake an online search to establish the credentials of whomever has published a casting notice. You should ask for examples of prior work, confirm their office location, website, email address, mobile number etc.
- There are parts of the entertainment industry where the audition process is managed by the writer, producer or director and not by a casting professional appointed by the production company. This does not mean that the casting and the production are not legitimate, but you may find that no established casting director is involved, and no formal office, website etc., is identifiable. You should still ask all of the questions outlined in this guidance, and check with Equity to determine the status of the theatre or production company involved with the audition.
- You should avoid the use of texts etc, for the exchange of information regarding a casting notice. Keep any exchange within the casting website messaging system, or use email. Do not use your personal email address, instead create an account for your professional work. Keep and file all emails.
- You should be wary of casting notices that do not identify the rate of pay or where the work is not offered under an Equity contract.
Auditions for student films
- You may see casting notices posted by student film makers as part of a legitimate course. You should ask that they supply a copy of the policy guidance from their institution on safeguards for auditions. You should ask that they use an email address supplied by their institution as a further means of verifying their status .If they can’t do this, then ask for the name and contact details of their course leader and/or departmental health and verify with them that the audition is legitimate.
Equity guidance to members is that you do not undertake any work as part of a student film without pay. Request that you are engaged formally via a form of engagement for a student film. Guidance for Equity members on working on student films, and the template form of engagement are here:
Where you encounter any abusive treatment (including not being paid) when engaged to work on a student film please contact Equity.
Auditions involving intimacy, nudity and scenes involving sex
- You should never be expected to undertake any scene involving nudity, intimacy or any form of sexual activity for an audition. Nor should you be requested to provide photographs or video in advance where you are partially dressed or nude. You should report to Equity any such request and decline to attend the audition. If you are in an audition and this request is made you should leave immediately and report the matter to Equity and the police.
- Under no circumstances should you be asked to self-tape fully nude or partially nude. Nor should you be asked to send fully or partially nude photographs to a Casting Director or Producer at any point during the auditioning process. Find out more in the Code of Best Practice for Self-Tape and Zoom Auditions.
The audition location
- You should avoid any request to attend an audition in someone’s home, or hotel bedroom or during the evening. The venue may be in a hotel meeting room. If so, ring the hotel in advance to confirm that the venue has been booked for an audition.
- You should suggest an alternative location if you are concerned about the venue and you should propose bringing a friend with you. It is legitimate to ask who will be present at the audition, as it not appropriate for you to meet with a single representative of the casting or production team. If you find that you are alone with a single person you are advised to leave the audition. Additionally, you should ensure that others (friends, family etc.) are aware of the date, time and location of the audition.
- You should not be expected in an audition to undertake any act which makes you feel unsafe or vulnerable in any way. You should leave any audition where this is the case and report this to Equity, and to the casting site where the job was posted. If you experience any form of harm during an audition (physical or emotional) this should be reported directly to the police.
- You should gain as much information as possible prior to an audition of the people and companies involved in the relevant production. This might include screen captures of messages sent, copies of casting notices etc. This will help Equity or the police follow-up on any concerns you raise whether you attend the audition or not.
Ultimately, a professional casting director, or established theatre or production team, will provide answers to questions to help verify that a casting opportunity and audition are both legitimate and safe. If you have any doubts you should not attend an audition and contact Equity.
- Equity general enquiries and staff contact details
- Equity guidance on staying safe at castings and auditions
- Times Up guidance on staying safe in entertainment workplaces. This was published in consultation with the Casting Directors Guild (CDG) and Spotlight.
- Guidance has also been published by Spotlight on identifying scam modelling photoshoots