An actor will do anything to land a role. Recently, a group of actresses in Los Angeles learned that the hard way by unwittingly participating in a prank intended to cast a fictional film.
The young women believed they were auditioning for a real movie, and were asked to perform in blackface and Hitler mustaches to test how far they would go to score a part.
When some became suspicious, they discovered that their “auditions” were being filmed for an actual feature film already in production. In other words, they weren’t auditioning, they were being pranked for a Borat-style moment. And most of the women felt like they’d been scammed.
Fake Film, Real Prank
Approximately 30 actresses recently responded to an open audition posted on an actor’s database for an upcoming film called May the Best Man Win.
The hopefuls showed up to audition at a location in South Central L.A. where they given “sides,” or samples of the script to read for the camera. However, the actresses soon began to suspect a scam behind the curtain.
The sides varied from person to person, but the Los Angeles Times reports they were all fairly outrageous and offensive. The women were asked to impersonate Hitler or perform racist skits in blackface.
Sensing that this wasn’t a normal audition, one of the young women eventually discovered that the actresses were being used as pawns in an elaborate prank for a feature film already in production.
Almost all of the actresses expressed embarrassment and outrage, telling the Times that they had been duped into thinking their audition would lead to a legitimate role.
The actresses who agreed to participate and signed release waivers were compensated with a mere $50.
Filmmakers Insist Audition Scam is “Intended to Be Funny”
It turns out that the “casting directors” that the actresses met backstage were actually the two lead actors in May the Best Man Win, who posed as crew along with the producers and assistants involved in the real movie.
Despite the actresses’ statements that they felt “ambushed,” the filmmakers defended the audition ruse and insisted the women had all their options explained to them.
One producer, who has also worked with several reality shows and unscripted films based out of the U.K., told the Los Angeles Times:
Quite a few of those girls were more than happy to be involved, and we have some fantastic footage from them. Whether we are officers of good taste or bad taste is neither here nor there — it’s the style of an edgy comedy. It’s intended to be funny.
The filmmakers said the point of the prank audition was to see how far the actresses would be willing to go to land a role.
How Actors Can Avoid Scams
Many of the victims of the May the Best Man Win prank noted that they were at a disadvantage because they’re unknown actors still struggling to launch their career. As any actor will tell you, Hollywood is so competitive that oftentimes you can’t afford to blow off an audition or risk alienating a production company.
But despite this difficult career path, performers should make sure to know their rights before auditioning or signing onto any projects. It’s important that actors research the role, the crew, the production company, and anyone else involved with a project before attending an audition.
Know your rights as a working actor, including procedures for clocking overtime and worker’s compensation for injuries received on set. It also doesn’t hurt to resort to legal counsel if you have questions about ethics or laws on the job.
Are you, or someone you know, a working actor who has experienced an audition scam? If you’re not an actor, have you ever felt scammed by job? Tell us about it in the comments.
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