Love it or hate it, there’s no doubt that the furry fandom continues to grow in size. Famous names from Insane Clown Posse’s Violent J to country star Lil Nas X have gotten fursuits, and there’s no doubt that Zootopia was extremely popular for a reason.
Furries have now appeared on various shows from CSI to Lucifer, with their fursuits being used as a special draw for specific episodes. It appears now that the incoming HBO Max limited series The Staircase wanted to do the same, but failed spectacularly while hurting some fursuiters they intended to hire in the process.
According to fursuiters hired as extras on the show, the production company, alongside Hylton Casting, misled those who agreed to be extras during a rave scene in the series, resulting in heavy financial losses, damages, and broken promises regarding their contracts.
Hylton first began their casting call for Staircase on May 10th, 2021. Later on, the call was updated with requests for fursuiters to also be a part of the production. However, some furries that responded to the call said that there were major issues with the production with constantly changing promises on pay and compensation.
One fursuiter named Dage discussed how they were promised hotel rooms that would be paid for but then that was walked back on after they had already traveled for filming and would have nowhere else to stay.
“We thought we would get accommodated with a hotel the next day because that’s what they promised multiple times in emails. Not even a couple minutes after we checked into the hotel (we had to sit in the lobby from 10 to 3 to wait for check in to open) they send us an email stating they wont be giving us a hotel to stay in.”
What was potentially worse was how the pay rates for the event were constantly lowered beyond what was originally promised. Fursuiter Lazuli shared emails with us showing how, while they were originally promised $275 a day for quarantine and $104 an hour but those numbers were changed suddenly to be much lower.
“I lost about $380 from this trip”, Lazuli explained. “Money I was making from this trip I was going to use for [Midwest Furfest] so I could vend in the artist’s alley. Most people buy stickers from a small business spontaneously at a con rather than online if I’m being honest. It’s highly unlikely I’ll be able to attend the con now though.”
The amount of money lost on the trip was extreme for many, with everything from car accidents to lost income from work coming into play. Clyde “Fall” Collie told us that the company’s inconsistency forced them to cancel a shift at their job “which then got me a note on file.” Dage explained to us just how staggering the numbers of wasted income looked like.
“Fursuiters are now down over $13,000+ in total of what we should have made and two fursuiters got into car accidents and still went hoping they would compensate their loss for the payment they were hoping to get.”
After crashing his car along the way, Shadow LeRawr had even more reason to try and attend filming but was ultimately disappointed and let down.
“I went online since everyone was encouraging me to do somthing I was dedicated to do because the extra money would help buy me a new car. So I pretty much dumped just about $1200 into this with no payback.”
A fursuiter known as Maya Redwolf explained why this was more than just an acting opportunity and why the alleged poor treatment was so hurtful.
“Honestly this meant alot because I was going to be able to be who I am. It’s going to be hard on me now to trust again. I already deal with daily issues and to have this happen is taking alot on me. This was going to be a deeper meaning to me then a normal gig.”
Lazuli personally felt that she was put into danger on top of losing current and future income for their business due to the production company’s lax standards.
“As someone who flew in, doesn’t know the area, is female, and has been told to not walk the streets of Atlanta alone, the company basically said it was “just show biz” last minute and wanted to leave me along with others stranded. Its downright hazardous and dangerous.”
Many furries and other supporters took to Twitter to share their disdain for the production’s treatment of the fursuiters who had been chosen to work on set.
Raina Falcon from Warner Media and HBO Max said that while the company does not have an official statement on the matter, “As is customary, background actors were hired as locals and therefore production does not assume responsibility for travel. The inherent nature is that production schedules change.”
Filming for The Staircase is set to wrap up in November 2021. Currently, the fursuiters affected by these events have yet to be compensated for damages.