One-Time CD Workshops vs. Multi-Week Packages

Dear Bonnie,

Thank you so much for what you do for actors. Your advice and perspective have helped me greatly, and you’ve made me the smartest person in my power group.

After looking through what you’ve written on the topic by searching the archives, I haven’t found the answer to a situation/opportunity that has come up. I’m targeting a CD and I found a facility that is having a three-week workshop. I’m confused about whether it’s better to get more exposure to this CD, or if it’s better to do a one-and-done?

Does it help to have multiple exposures? Or, like the radio-channel-change thing, has the CD decided on me after the first five seconds?

You know, am I solidifying my relationship with the CD like I’m supposed to, or wasting my time and money?


Yeah. I keep hearing about these “packages” being sold at CD workshop facilities, always with the hook: “if one exposure gets you on their radar, think of what three weeks’ exposure can do.”

Of course, what it ends up doing for most actors is cost them more money for no proportionate results.

For MOST actors.

You’ve nailed it, with what you’re calling “the radio channel change thing.” I often use the analogy — when speaking about actors’ demo reels — of how long you give a song a chance before changing the station in your car radio, if it’s not a song you want to hear right now. It’s not a comment about the quality of the song; it’s an indication of how quickly decisions are made about whether or not something WORKS for your current needs.

So, let’s take that to the CD workshop scenario. In most cases, casting office personnel doing the workshop circuit are employees of active TV casting offices, and they need to see a ton of new actors to populate the many co-star roles that come through, each episode. Being on their radar, and then getting back on their radar after a few months or after a year or so makes good business sense, if you’ve done the research that shows targeting one of the shows they cast aligns with your bullseye.

But let’s say you invest in one of these multi-week classes, do not only your first, on-brand bullseye scene that teaches the buyer exactly how you’re best cast, but then get to work on scenes that stretch your abilities, take you out of your comfort zone — scenes that would be great to work on in acting class. And you’re doing that WORK in front of a buyer. You’re showing a work in progress to someone who needs to see you at performance level. You’re working out kinks with someone who — let’s face it — almost never is an actual acting *craft* teacher (although he or she may have a few decent tips). You’re perhaps eroding confidence in the perception the buyer had of your bullseye, after that first, on-brand read.

If — by the time a multi-week “course” is over — you’ve shown weakness, growth, maybe some confidence issues, and a few different types of work that fall all over your dartboard, have you done a bang-up job of branding yourself well, in the mind of this buyer, when he or she sees your headshot in the stream of submissions on a busy casting day, a few weeks later?

I like what you’re calling the “one and done” workshops, because they’re exactly what they advertise themselves to be: A shot for you to get in front of a buyer that (hopefully) you’ve targeted well, and for whom your work lines up perfectly for something actively in the casting process. Think of it like tequila shots: More doesn’t always mean better. In fact, often, it means disaster.

Moderation, my friends!

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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