I was an actor, costumer and make-up artist for a play production for Robert Conrad, who is a acting teacher, director, producer, and owner of Acting Express Production. I have requested reimbursement for costs for shipping costs of $ 70.93 for the two costumes we bought to see and show the cast, photo copy costs $ 13.50 for Mr. Conrad's Acting Express mtg., and ALL DVD's of all my acting class work in Mr. Conrad's two Cold Reading classes (I paid for and attended from 4/3/12 - 4/24 and 5/1 - 5/1 at Costa Mesa - Schultz Studio, and 5/4 at Carroll Beek Center) AND the copy of the film we did in April Called "stage moms" where I played the director.
I have e-mailed many times about all issues. Most recently after I left the play production, I emailed Mr. Conrad twice, once on 5-17 and another on 5/25. I have returned all items belonging to the play, Bob and others associated with the play. I have sent receipts ( through a co-stage Manager for costs and reimbursement) and to date have not received any correspondence, except to receive a letter the week of June 2nd from Mr. Conrad, telling me there are no costs due me and if I am in disagreement to submit receipts prior to performance in order to be processed, giving me a deadline of June 8th or he will assume I have been reimbursed and no monies are due...
Keep in mind Mr. Conrad has a P.O. Box, I do not have a home address nor does he have an office address, therefore my only way to get a document to him is via messenger on days and or evenings he is teaching various places.
For the record all of the cast had to pay for their own costumes. This was NOT told to them at the time of registration for the play Kaleidoscope, but much later after he saw the cost of all costumes and props did he change his mind and decided the cast absorb the cost of their costume (About $ 40). On top of that each cast member paid a total of $ 155.00 for their registration fee to be in this play.
Since I was in charge of costumes and make-up all purchases for the play were on my own credit card. Therefore because of this, the cast wrote me individual checks for their costumes and other extras I paid for. No money is due me in this regard... just what Mr. Conrad owes me as outlined in this clam.
As I have indicated in my prior correspondence to him, I want to be fair and reasonable with this matter. I know other cast members have also spent their own money on the play, which they will not re-coup. However, I feel strongly Mr. Conrad is used to doing this with his cast and has taken advantage of them. Many prior cast and crew members have felt taken advantage of and most have never returned to another project because of it.
In my case, I am not the kind of person who allows others to walk all over me. I came to these classes with one thing in mind and that was to learn about acting and see if I liked it. I did like it and at first it was fun and exciting. Then all of the side jobs and favors started... if you demonstrated any competence in a particular area he asked you to be in charge of it, and if you declined he treated you differently and pressured you to re-consider. He made you feel like if you didn't help out there would be be a back lash of some sort. He is very manipulative as well as persuasive.
I know he will claim he never asks anyone to volunteer, but that is NOT true. I have e-mails disproving that claim. And when I told him I did not want to continue and be part of his next project "Get Smart" (he asked me to do make-up and costumes and a lesser role on stage) I declined saying I wanted to just concentrate on acting. The next I put it in writing and he was reactive and lashed out at me. He pretty much told me we would end our professional relationship after this current play. He gets very child like and takes most things personally. He is easily upset and very insecure.
In my case though, I decided to quit the play and all crew responsibilities after that last tantrum of his. I also responded so that all cast and crew members were copied so they cold read first hand why I quit and what transpired.
I know I have been more than been generous, patient and fair with every transaction. I loved working with the other actors in class and in projects. That part of it was very difficult, but overall, it was the best way for me to pursue other acting education and opportunities.
Also, note I would not bother with this claim if I did not have "proof" of my claims. I have found several pages of emails that support my communication with Mr. Conrad on the "pre-ordering" dialogue of these costumes in which I ordering them with a "rush 1 - 3 day delivery" in order to meet his desire to showcase the new costume to the cast at the onset of rehearsals for the Kaleidoscope play.
I followed his desire to have the costume(s) show to cast members at the week-end rehearsal ASAP, so I made sure that happened! I e-mailed each time and told him they were being sent via rush delivery! He never said do not do that or how much is it to do that? No everything seemed fine, then out of the goodness of my heart, I went the extra mile and did a spread sheet of the individual costs for the play. You see many non appointed cast members took it upon themselves to go out and buy things for the costume and props for the play without prior approval or invitation to do so... he was very concerned about that, but did not address it until after the fact.
So I decided to track these costs, and as a result, he and his stage manager, business partner in Acting Express and his kind of administrative assistant, told him he should not pay for rush shipping charges, that I should be responsible for these costs (at least that is what Bob told me is why he objected to it)
This is clearly not good business practices, as verbally he did not even blink about the shipping costs, nor did he flinch when I told him I was going to do a rush shipment. No it was not until he spoke to this other person, who is an accountant by trade, that he changed his attitude about paying the shipping costs.