Miscommunication results in furore over unpaid commercial casting

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Original postBy Guy Wah
Actor and BrightonActors.co.uk editor

There was unwanted drama today on the Brighton Filmmakers group on Facebook, when a group member made a post looking for actors to work on an advert for Brighton & Hove Buses. A great opportunity, you may think. But no – this was an unpaid casting.

When I put together the castings policy for BrightonActors.co.uk, I did my best to ensure that it didn’t exclude Brighton & Hove’s wonderful collaborative creative community. There’s a big difference between someone putting together a short film with friends and enthusiastic collaborators, and a for-profit organisation asking a local filmmaker to create an advert with no budget.

The only positive from this was the unequivocally condemning response from both filmmakers and actors within the group. Surnames and profile pictures have been removed.

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Local filmmaker Stephanie immediately jumped on the posting, and actor Richard tagged in Bill Smith from Latest TV, asking for an explanation.


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I then chipped in with my tuppence worth, before Bill Smith responded.

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That wasn’t enough for some people though…


While this was happening, I posted a screenshot of the advert in the BrightonActors.co.uk – Helping Actors Facebook group.

Responses were almost universally critical. Some of the more polite comments, anonymised:

  • “Shameful”
  • “Rubbish. It’s for a commercial. Don’t do it!”
  • “It is taking advantage.”
  • “I think that Brighton and Hove Buses SHOULD pay me to ride on their rattle traps. After all I once appeared in a film with someone famous. It’s good for their exposure.”

In the meantime, the original post was removed from the Brighton Filmmakers group.

I’ve since spoken with Bill Smith from Latest TV and he clarified exactly what happened. The original post was made by a freelance filmmaker engaged by Latest TV on a self-employed basis, who had offered to produce the advert. Latest TV were under the impression that he would be engaging with friends or colleagues to provide the extras needed in the advert. He has since been advised by Bill that his conduct was not acceptable. Bill stressed that Latest TV use their own paid office staff as extras when they shoot commercials, and that this is what they will be doing with the Brighton & Hove Buses commercial.

Bill has also offered to write an article for the site detailing the opportunities he is able to offer Brighton & Hove actors, filmmakers and writers.

Today’s events opened up the unpaid/collaborative work conversation again, but more importantly it showed that the one thing that most actors agree on (including Bill) is that in any commercial venture all actors should be fully remunerated.

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