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Directing a showcase/short films for a drama school

Hello Shooters,
Just wanted to get some opinions on the practice of hiring directors for showcases/ short films by drama schools, if any of you had that experience.
I applied for such a job at a kinda well known drama school, based on a job post I found here. They're looking for directors with min 5 years experience. I have over 10 years experience as I detailed on my cover letter and a long list of credits for both film and theatre work on my CV. They replied saying they want directors to run a 2 hour workshop with a class of a least 10 of their students before they can offer a position, so they can see how the director works. No interview at this point, just the workshop. Something which was not actually mentioned as part of the selection process in their job advert.
Is that standard practice? I'm perfectly capable of running a workshop but at the same time I work as a director not as a drama teacher, so running acting workshops is not what I usually do. I somehow feel that it's a little cheeky to ask professional directors to devote 2 hours of their time to teach a class for free, which we also have to prepare for on our own time. The school will basically be gaining 3 days of free acting training for their students, with no guarantee of a job for us at the end of it. So are they taking the piss, or am I being paranoid? And why is this making me mad? My answer is because I'm essentially being asked to work for free. By people who could actually pay me for my time. And it feels like a piss take.
I have not yet replied to them so I'd appreciate any thoughts, experiences, or advice, especially from people who have directed for drama schools. Thanks!

  • Tough one. Good if you need the experience and work, but not so as they expect you to already have experience! Sounds like a bit of a punt to me. Just trying to get what they can and make it competitive so that you do it for free. Naughty.

    9 months ago
  • These sort of policy ideas usually evolve through a narrow minded lack of consideration. If the policy was consciously designed to exploit the candidate then that would not only be morally reprehensible but also illegal. If the case in point involves a significant institution I would hope that the faulty policy is just a crass lack of consideration. Chryssanthi has articulated pretty comprehensively just why the policy is indefensible. I can imagine that if this conversation was made available to that administration it would cause a sudden panic of soul searching on a number of counts. If it was me I'd probably send them a letter clarifying all of the points raised here whilst at the same time reassuring the institution of my willingness to provide a two hour class for a reasonable fee.

    9 months ago
  • I'll not be so kind: fuck those motherfuckers. I am sick to death of this kind of shit. They're just trying to get something for nothing. In the words of Joe Pesci, "Fuck you. Pay me." Oh, this makes me so mad!

    9 months ago
    • Haha - damn it Dan. You made me spit my coffee over my screen! But you're right, as is John. Send them a letter and make your points clear.

      9 months ago
    • @Lee 'Wozy' Warren Easier to clean than a keyboard. But you knew that already! Damn you Wozy!

      9 months ago
  • I talked to my Mum about this. I attend a performing arts school and sometimes an expert comes in who looks great on paper but not so good with the pupils. Mum says that in other industries (she has no experience of yours) it wouldn't be unusual for the FINAL two candidates to do a SHORT presentation/workshop. We agree that asking all applicants to do a free 2hr workshop is not acceptable

    9 months ago
  • I attended a drama school and we often had guest lecturers, including directors, who were DEFINITELY paid. No job offer at the end of it, but I think the thing that irks me most is that they haven't even interviewed you yet. If you weren't suitable for the role (although by the sounds of it you're more than qualified!) they'd be able to gage that from an interview and not waste yours and the student's time. Good luck! Would be interesting to hear how it plays out.

    9 months ago
  • I am pretty sure I study at this drama school and I've been to a few of these workshops. I believe the workshop is basically the interview. If this makes you feel better, students don't pay extra to attend so they don't get any money from it. The reason why they do it is because sometimes you get very experienced actors or directors but then, when it comes to teaching, they don't have the right tools. I guess by getting these professionals to actually interact with the students gives them a good idea of whether they are suitable for the role?

    Just to add here, I completely agree that no one should be asked to work for free at all. I just wanted to give my insights as one of the students at that school.

    9 months ago
    • Thanks for your comment. I understand that this may be their interview process. My objection is that it should be mentioned when advertising the job as it is a certain commitment the applicant needs to know in advance. Adding to that the job is to direct a showcase not teach acting, it's an entirely different thing altogether. I would understand it better if I was applying to be an acting teacher, but I'm not.

      9 months ago
    • @Chryssanthi Kouri I totally understand you. Plus, although I love the school and I'm getting a lot from it, they lack a bit in terms of admin and in terms of how they communicate with both students and teachers (I think everyone there would agree with it).

      I do wish we would get you as a showcase director though! : )

      9 months ago
  • Thanks for your comments everyone. All very helpful. I've replied now accepting the workshop as well as voicing my concerns so we'll see what happens!

    9 months ago
  • If it's of any help, Chryssanthi, I used to do seminars at USC on directing, and the minimum was $600 for 3 hours. Of course, I have 30 years of experience fixing films, which ain't nothing. Not to mention it's a ridiculously rich private school. But doing something for nothing is an outrage. Be what you're worth.

    9 months ago