We often compare how we do things here with how the industry works in the United States, and in many cases then follow. Over the last couple of years for example, colour headshots, an industry standard across the Atlantic, have begun to become the norm on an increasing number of actor’s online profiles. So when we were invited to meet with a leading US casting resource we were intrigued to see what they could offer our community that is not already on offer.
Casting Networks is a software company dedicated to providing business solutions for entertainment professionals. Working with casting professionals in the US they developed the first system to put the entire casting process online. Casting Networks has since expanded to all of the major casting markets in the United States – and now the number one casting software in the US has hopped the pond!
Casting Networks is a commitment free site where actors have the choice to pay if and when they find value in the services on offer – this equates to no mandatory yearly upfront payment. If and when you choose to pay, payments are made monthly and operate as various ad-ons. The Media Hosting ad-on for example allows you to add, delete and update your videos as much as you wish. Anything you upload can also be attached to your CV meaning you or your agent can tailor your CV for a job in just a few clicks. The maximum a represented actor would pay (if you used all the ad-ons available) would be £120 a year. It might be worth noting though that, for a limited time only, you can take advantage of free photos and free media uploads.
It may be worth noting though that all represented actors will always be able to register for free with one headshot and their CV. Accounts can also be frozen, so if you are touring for a long time for example your account can be archived and then reactivate without loosing any of your images or videos. During this time you can simply maintain the free CV and photo presence.
For unrepresented actors there will be a registration fee of £25 (which would include your headshot and CV) and then the same commitment free monthly choices for unlimited images and media. Unrepresented actors can also select to be viewable to Talent Scout – which gives agents the ability to search their non-represented database and scout talent based on specific criteria they are looking for.
Casting Networks is also about to launch their Casting Billboard – which is their job posting site where breakdowns go directly to the actors. These jobs are usually Independent film projects and lower budget jobs. To give you an idea, in LA, on average they list approx 2,000 of these a month.
Actors can also create a unique url through Casting Networks with their own name. This means you can send out your profile electronically as a link in a more memorable form – for example: www.principals.castingnetworks.co.uk/angela.
Whilst Casting Networks can be used for all stage and screen castings you may, at first, notice more advantages when you are put up for a commercial.
Gone are the days of filling out a head sheet once you arrive. Casting Networks recognise that actors would rather concentrate on the casting brief and script rather than spending time jotting down their inside leg measurement and scrolling through their mobile so that they can write down their agents phone number. Like wise casting directors can remove the need for all the clipboards, pens and sheets of paper. To this end they have created an online check-in system – actors simply check all their data is correct on the screen and check themselves in.
All your details are then automatically updated in the casting room, not only does the casting director know you have arrived but once you have finished the casting and your tape can be attached directly to your profile and sent off to the decision makers within just a few minutes.
So, whilst the advantages point to commercial castings at first (Candid Casting, Des Hamilton, Mark Summers, Nicci Topping all use Casting Networks), when you take into consideration that many casting directors in the UK cast more than just one type of media it is perhaps not surprising that casting directors such as Jeremy Zimmerman, Kahleen Crawford and the Hubbards are also taking advantage of the service.
Perhaps the biggest benefit to them is that the whole casting process can become paperless. We are used to breakdowns going out via email and casting directors organising their final casting call online, but now it seems they can carry that process right through to making an offer. If needs be the casting, uploading and sending of tapes along with the complete actors profile (which can be tailored for that casting using ‘drag & drop’ technology) can be done online – eliminating the hassle of cancelations, last min changes and piles of paper.
Of course their may be some who feel they already have a system in place that works for them, but what is clear is that Casting Networks offer certain services that are not currently available as fully integrated systems – they approach both the casting process and the way talent is charged afresh. Whether you are the actor marketing yourself, the casting director looking for talent, the director on the other side of the world reviewing tapes, or the producer who is dealing with ever tighter deadlines Casting Networks is worth taking a look at.
One thing is clear though. Casting Networks are not the new kids on the block – they have been developing their software for some years and are already very well established and respected in the United States. Perhaps their biggest challenge will be right here in the United Kingdom though. A system like this relies on a high percentage of professionals using it. It takes time and effort to get used to another system, and those who sign up early may need to be a little patient whilst the full value manifests itself as the industry catches on – after all, pockets of our industry can be hesitant when it comes to change – but should that stop us? Decide for yourself at www.castingnetworks.co.uk.
Read Casting Networks UK Media Kits:
For Actors click here.
For Agents click here.
For Casting Directors click here.