Savannah film industry warns of fly-by-night casting calls - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Savannah film industry leaders warn of fly-by-night casting calls

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Another scheme, some believe, in the works. With Spongebob: The Sequal set to start production and casting in Savannah and on Tybee Island next month, unfortunately, the attention attratcts unwanted guests. 

One Savannah family is afraid someone's taking advantage of victims with silver screen dreams and using the name of one of the most beloved television franchises: Sesame Street. 

The family who called WTOC is not your ordinary family. They ran across this company last year and warned them once. Then, got a phone call from them the same company this week asking them to take part in an audition next weekend telling them the Sesame Street Casting Call was coming back to town.

We called the company and left a message. The family called Sesame Street. The family are relatives of late Savannah businessman, "Hollywood" Ron Higgins. They said they knew better, and found out Sesame Street wasn't holding auditions in Savannah. They knew something was wrong last year, when the company asked for money up front, before children auditioned. 

"Anybody can advertise any name and it does not mean they are actually affiliated," Jay Self, Savannah Film Office, told WTOC.

Self never heard from any company about a Sesame Street casting call, but he's heard about casting calls in hotels where they ask for money up front. This one is scheduled to be held on September 6th and 7th in a hotel in midtown Savannah.

"There are a lot of scams out there and most legitimate casting companies would not ask for money until they have gotten you work," Self said.

"When they advertise on the radio, it kind of rings the bell of...parents beware. Actors beware," Chip Lane, First City Films, said.

Lane knows the red flags.  

"When they say you have to pay 100 or 150 dollars to audition, you turn around and run the other way," he said. "You don't do that."

Lane has been casting movies since 2005, including last year's Killing Winston Jones in Savannah. 

"Legitimate agencies will not charge you for an audition. The casting director will contact agents. Agents will contact you and bring them in to the casting call or have an iopen casting call. Those agencies, not for money, will go and find you jobs. Once you get paid, they get paid. That's how it works," Lane said. 

Casting calls, they say, on the up and up, are for specific projects usually. Open talent, model and casting calls and searches in a hotel should be a clear reason to ask a lot of questions and not pay any money.

"It can be sleazy, like any other business, especially if it's your kid," Lane said. "A lot of parents think their kids are adorable and will be the next Beiber, or whomever."

Self says, after more than 20 years in the film industry, he's never seen a legitimate casting call ask for money. 

"There are a lot of people who prey on people who have the hopes and the stars in their eyes," he said.

If you have a child interested in acting or modeling, there are websites and legitimate agencies you can look into to get started. Lane suggests www.800casting.com or www.actorsaccess.com

The main keys to remember are do not pay up front, find a reputable, credible agency if you are serious about getting into the industry, or getting your child into the industry. Know who you are dealing with. If they say they are Sesame Street, call Sesame Street and ask. It's that simple.

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