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KESA OPINION: Should aspiring Cameroonian actors and actresses pay for auditions?

So within the past days, there has been a serious debate online between movie makers, actors, actresses and those aspiring to join this field as to whether people have to actually pay for auditions. This came about because a new movie house in Limbe, Wondi Production requested that candidates come along with 500 FRS and an A4 paper for auditions.

I would like to start by saying that no money is small as I see many people saying that if they request 500 or 1000, then it’s not extortion and should be at the reach of anyone. Well, gentle reminder that your 1000 FRS is worth some other person’s 100 FRS as well as another person’s 10k. So let’s keep the actual amount aside and focus on the main issue which is “Should aspiring actors and actresses pay for auditions?”

Now, I saw a post on Vicky Fokala‘s wall, where she was advising young actors not to be scammed into paying for auditions and given I couldn’t wrap my head around it, I simply copied same text, posted on my wall and signed off with her name. The topic was interesting to me and I saw it important to share her opinion given she has some real experience in the industry.

The first question we should ask ourselves is, do other industries practice some form of “pay for auditions/interviews”? Do bankers pay for interviews to get jobs in banks? Yes! Do maritime agents pay for interviews to get interviewed and taken to work in maritime companies? Yes! Do you pay to be interviewed at the Embassy when you want to fall bush? Yes!

I know you will look at the above and say that they are not the same, or not same fields etc., but actually it’s the same scenario. The target is to get people to work under your movie house for a particular project. Interviews in Banking, Maritime, Business and even immigration can be described as auditions and likened to auditions in the movie industry.

I will push aside the idea that producers want to create an atmosphere conducive for the aspirants during the auditions and put all under company policy. Yes, maybe when you join the company, you will get to understand some of its policies, but as an aspirant, internal affairs of the company need not be explained to you.

Some of us send our CVs and documents to companies through email and when they call us for interviews, they have to print these documents out, some have to do background checks in our former institutions, some have to make calls here and there, follow up with government authorities and incur a lot of administrative charges which pushes them to include somewhere in their policy that they will charge a particular fee for those applying for jobs.

Movie houses build reputations over the years and it should be easy to know the serious and unserious ones, based on past work done, their online and offline profiles including recommendations that you may get from friends that have worked with them. The honest truth is that you shouldn’t consider the option of being scammed when setting up or joining a venture because you may end up not doing it given the various questions or requirements that may be requested.

Many producers that have had successful projects stand the chance to have full house auditions when they have a new project no matter the amount they request. People transport themselves to different towns to attend auditions, others pay hotels etc. because they know what they are looking for and they are ready to do what’s needed to stand a chance.

A clear example in the Cameroon context is the recently released and much celebrated Cite Malingo. If I was an aspiring actor/actress, I would be looking forward to the auditions for season two of that sitcom because I’ve seen how serious the whole production team is and I know what I can get from it.

To conclude, the CFI and all major stakeholders in Cameroon Cinema need to be on the lookout for people who will scam people with auditions, fake promises etc. which goes a long way to discourage people to come for auditions. Many aspiring actors/actresses have cried foul play after paying for auditions as they are finally chosen to act for free and sometimes, the projects are never released.

Also, the Cameroon film industry as a whole is still growing and so young movie houses or people who have some little capital to come up with movie projects should either reduce the audition amounts or make it completely free given that they too are looking for recognition and building a brand.

This is my opinion on this matter and again, I would love to read from you all from your opinions to past experiences. The comments section below is open and friendly.




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