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Casting Resources: Review

With such a multitude of casting services around it can be hard for the proactive actor to know which are the best to sign up to. Of course they all offer something slightly different and some actors may find different services more beneficial at different points in their careers.

Over the period of a month this summer we gave Actors’ Guild member Isabelle Rose the task of using and reviewing eleven casting resources. Here are her results listed in alphabetical order.

We also gave the companies listed the opportunity to answer any of the points raised in the interests of fairness. We are also conscious that independent feedback from our community can help bring about positive change where it may be needed.

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Introduction

As we all know, this industry is about as predictable as British weather so I’m going to outline a few provisos. As all actors are different, we will all have different experiences of what works and what doesn’t.

I am in my mid-20s, trained on a postgraduate at Drama Studio London. I graduated a year ago, so very much at the beginning of my career and looking to build my CV and contacts. I don’t mind doing good unpaid work as long as I think I’m going to learn from it, or I can use it for my showreel (though I am becoming more and more picky…) I don’t have an agent.

I think the first thing that struck me, as I signed up for all these sites, is just how many there are. My Chrome browser crashed three times on the first day and has several times since, which had never happened previously. Second, was the mammoth amount of money that this would have come to had I not been given free trials.

A criticism for almost all the website-based services is that they’re not designed for use on smartphones. I’m not asking for an app (well, actually, that would be ideal, really, so I am) but I probably spend more time on my phone checking work options than I do in front of a computer. I spoke to one of the services on the phone regarding this and they said they “are looking into it…” but it is 2012, and realistically, “looking into it” doesn’t really cut it.

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Casting Call Pro

Cost – £17/month or £130/year (+VAT) if you want access to paid jobs.

Site: www.castingcallpro.com

Discount for Actors’ Guild members: No discount offered.

CCP is like marmite. Some actors I know swear by it, others think it’s a waste of time. I sit somewhere between the two. There are some good, paid jobs including some interesting theatre tours, commercial work, and voiceover. The latest Hollywood feature is not casting through CCP, and no, you aren’t going to be seen for Game of Thrones but you can make money from here from lower profile jobs and, as is my case, build your CV without an agent. There are also some options for free upgrade – I worked in their offices last year for three days and received a year’s premium membership in return.

There are two boards on their website – one for paid work, one for unpaid opportunities. You can filter these boards by type (film, theatre, etc.), age, and gender. There is also a forum and a notice board. The premium option allows you to apply for all roles and post in the forum, and the free option allows you to apply for unpaid opportunities.

You can opt to receive emails when jobs fitting your profile come up which means you don’t have to check the site itself it all the time. And, while I know amongst some actors there is a little stigma surrounding CCP, there is a decent amount of work cast through this site. I’ve made enough money from here to cover the costs of the membership.

Pros.

Some excellent, helpful functionality on their site – including storing a PDF/Word CV, cover letters. These things make applying quickly for a job very easy.

Free uploads! With paid membership you can put up to 20 headshots and 20 voice/showreels and I don’t have to pay to upload them or pay again to change them (Spotlight take note, please…)

You can see when your submission has been viewed, whether it’s under consideration and which other employers have looked at your profile. Some actors hate this – I’d prefer to know that it’s got to where it needed to get to, even if they don’t shortlist me.

The agency listings – including who has open books – are a great resource if you don’t have an agent and you want to see what’s around.

RemoteGoat. This listings site links your profile to the show that you’re doing and they review it as well. It’s a great tool for promoting your theatre show and yourself. Also, when looking for work it makes it very easy to see what an employer’s credentials are.

Cons.

The age range thing. CCP allow you to be one age.  One. So my playing age is 25. Even though I could feasibly and have played down to 20 and up to 29/30 unless the job advertises 25 within the age range I can’t apply. This has been frustrating when someone has advertised for a 27 year old (I CAN PLAY 27!) and put the age range as 26-29, leaving me unable to submit myself. Apparently this is because actors keep applying for stuff they shouldn’t. But none of the other sites have a problem so…?

Teaching jobs. This is a small gripe. It might not bother other people. I’d like to be able to filter out teaching/coaching jobs. I have ways of making money outside of acting and have dabbled in teaching, but if I’m looking for acting work, I’m looking for acting work, not teaching work.

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Casting Networks

Cost – FREE until Oct 1st!

Future Pricing: Click here for details.

Site: www.castingnetworks.co.uk

Casting Networks is a new kid on the block. Apparently it’s pretty big in the US and is, if you believe twitter hype, here to rival Spotlight (though a little twitter conversation between Mark Summers and Dan Hubbard shows that some industry giants will disagree over whether or not this is true….) As it’s already established in the US it has less teething problems than you might expect for a new site and I found that setting up my profile was very actor friendly (though some translation is required – the bra size 34DDDD does not exist in the UK, Casting Networks. Know your market.)

I received very detailed emails when jobs matching my profile came in and was then able to check them on the board on website.

The work they cast seemed to be mainly commercials. I saw a couple of breakdowns for shorts and features but these were breakdowns that looked like they might have had trouble casting elsewhere.

There’s a link to their mobile site on the emails you receive (YES REALLY A MOBILE SITE!) – it’s no great work of beauty, but it’s a mobile site nonetheless.

Pros.

It’s FREE. (For now. I imagine this may change…)

Skill levels. I love that I can put levels (Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced) on my profile. This is particularly useful for languages as I can show which is my mother tongue, and to what standard I can use the others. Or similar with dance styles, instruments played, etc.. Excellent.

Free uploads. Does what is says on the tin. (Spotlight take note. Again.)

Cons.

There simply aren’t that many jobs coming through it. (And the ones that were there I often saw elsewhere as well…) Let’s see what happens though. It’ll probably grow.

Feedback from Casting Networks: Thanks Isabelle for the review – and we’re pleased you found the site actor friendly! We are currently looking at updating the site replacing all the US jargon with the UK Equivalents (changes you should see by end of year). As the new kid on the block we are working hard to provide more jobs while also offering you additional tools such as the ability to be scouted by the hundreds of agencies already using the system.  When our charges start on Oct 1st, those opting for monthly services can turn off their payments when they are working away / go on vacation and can re-activate their account when they return.  Our future pricing is available at: www.castingnetworks.co.uk/talent/pricing-details-uk

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CastNet

Cost – Free for the first month, £6.50 per week thereafter

Site: www.castingnetwork.co.uk

Discount for Actors’ Guild members: No discount offered.

Due to the redevelopment and re-launching of their website CastNet felt the period when we were reviewing casting sites would be unlikely to offer a representative view of their service so we have agreed to postpone this review.

Review to follow.

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Castweb

Cost – £19.95/month or £159.95/year (inc. VAT)

Site: www.castweb.co.uk

Discount for Actors’ Guild members: Yes! Castweb offer a no obligation free week’s trial to any Guild member who has not previously received Castweb. Members should apply to info@castweb.co.uk.

I hadn’t heard about this service and I found myself pleasantly surprised by it. It works in the form of emails, rather than a board. All castings are sent direct to your inbox without any filters. This means you get quite a few through in a day, which I thought might bother me, but since all I had to do was delete (rather than delete or refresh a board on a website) it wasn’t as frustrating as I’d originally thought it might be.

Pros.

The breakdowns here were often sent with an email address for the casting director. I liked this as it meant I could legitimately email them without seeming “too pushy.”

Mainly commercial work.

CastWeb are able to suspend any subscription at the request of an actor who finds work and re-instate it without loss.

Cons.

It’s definitely not cheap.

Mainly commercial work. (And often not paid Equity recommended rates….) If you don’t have a particularly commercial look then perhaps this is not the service for you.

Feedback from Castweb: CastWeb has been the number 1 specialist casting information service since 1999. Actors can expect to receive an average of 5 to 6 casting briefs from leading casting directors per working day from just 44p per day and fully tax deductible. You can also suspend your subscription at any time when working or on holiday. To see which casting directors have used our service please visit http://www.castweb.co.uk/castingpros and as an Actors’ Guild member you can try us for a week without any obligation! To apply please send your professional details to info@castweb.co.uk.

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Dramanic

Cost – 1 month £11.99, 3 months £34.99 (plus 1 month free), 6 months £54.99 (plus 2 months free), 12 months £99.99 (plus 3 months free).

Site: www.dramanic.com

Discount for Actors’ Guild members: Yes! Free two week trial. Buy 12 months, get 5 months free. Buy 6 months, get 3 months free. See our benefits page for info.

I only discovered this one just before I started doing this review. I really like it but I’m aware it definitely won’t be for everyone. The work is mainly theatre, including some regional touring with small but well-known companies on top of the mainstream west end/off-west end stuff. This site is not for the lazy amongst us – they give you as many details as they have about upcoming theatre projects and give you the contact details of the casting director. If you don’t like the idea of writing a lot of letters and emails, or theatre is not your medium, it’s not for you.

You receive emails regarding breakdowns matching your filters and all of them are listed on one board. I didn’t see one job there that wasn’t paid – most of them looked like they were paid Equity/ITC rates.

Pros.

It’s great to have one site where you can keep tabs on what’s coming up in the theatre.

You can filter by region, meaning that if you’ve got family/friends/a base in a few areas you could easily make sure you get information about shows in those areas alone.

Cons.

This is no quick fix-money in the bank-pay off your overdraft solution to all your work worries. This is what I think of as a long term investment.

Feedback from Dramanic: “Dramanic exists to bring more quality theatre opportunities to proactive professional actors, however the site also offers other useful sections such as self-employment advice and creating business cards amongst others.”

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Mandy

Cost – daily email alerts for £23.10/year

Site: www.mandy.com

Discount for Actors’ Guild members: No discount offered.

Mandy is a large website for film and television production professionals. I’d heard of it before but from film-makers and I knew it as a resource to find production, rather than acting jobs.  It wasn’t the most user friendly site in the world (perhaps because there aren’t that many actors that use it?) and I only worked out very late on that there was a facility to have breakdowns sent to my inbox. But there is work here, and it’s pretty cheap to subscribe.

Pros.

If you’re interested in doing films/TV over theatre then this might be quite good for you. There are theatre jobs here, but few and far between.

Similarly if your aim in the next 3 months is to get a decent showreel together and you want the largest range of roles to choose from then it might be a good one to subscribe to.

£23.10 is really quite affordable.

Cons.

There are a lot more lo/no paid roles than paid.

There are still just not that many jobs advertised here, paid, lo paid, or no pay.

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Shooting People

Cost – £7.95/month. £19.95/3 months. £39.95/year

Site: www.shootingpeople.org

Discount for Actors’ Guild members: Yes! One years subscription reduced to just £29.95. See our benefits page for info/terms.

I had looked around this site before using someone else’s profile just to see what it was like a year ago. I liked but hadn’t subscribed. It functions a bit like a social network in that you can tag who you’ve worked with before which is quite useful.

You will receive a daily email from them about available castings but these are not filtered (and as such are a bit of a pain to go through after a while…) You can also search for roles available on their website. It’s probably the “prettiest” website, though it wasn’t immediately apparent where the acting jobs were hiding.

The website is accessible on mobiles. HURRAH! Congratulations, ShootingPeople, you are the only website not stuck in 1999.

It’s clearly geared towards people who want to work behind rather than in front of the camera, but it’s not bad.

Pros

Their website is easy to use, looks great, and the tagging function is very useful.

If you paid the £39.95 for a year I imagine you might make your money back.

Cons

There’s plenty of opportunity to do unpaid work through here but, take note, you will never make your millions through this site.

Could be easier to find the list of castings available.

I’d prefer an email a day telling me which castings I’m suitable for without all the other breakdowns.

Feedback from Shooting People: “We’re really committed to supporting actors on Shooting People as well as filmmakers, because we know these two communities work so well alongside each other. Our tech team are working on improving the links to Castings as we speak, and Casting breakdowns are also something we’ll put on our ‘to-do’ list for this year now, so thanks for the feedback!”

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Spotlight

Cost – £144/year

Site: www.spotlight.com

Discount for Actors’ Guild members: No discount offered.

Now, I know that Spotlight is the casting directory you *HAVE TO WITHOUT FAIL OR ELSE YOUR CAREER WILL DIE ON THE SPOT* be a member of but, when renewal popped up in April, I have to say I was a little reluctant. I sent them a list of queries regarding their service, and they did eventually respond. I’ve met a couple of actors who aren’t members, one who’s reasonably successful (but probably had established his career a bit before he stopped subscribing…)

There are things I would change about the service (please make the site mobile accessible) but the quality of the work on here is the best stuff out there.

Pros.

Let’s face it. Whatever gripes I have with it, however much it bothers me – most big jobs go through here, many exclusively. It’s the most well-known directory in the UK.

If you have something that makes you pretty unique you have a very good chance of being found through a search of their directory.

Cons.

You have to pay to upload voice/showreels. £31/showreel, £15.50/voicereel. This means that if you decide to update your showreel after 6 months/1 year/2 years, you’d have to pay again.

The spam. Oh, the spam. Now, if I spammed a director, producer, or casting director, I’d be blacklisted and ridiculed on twitter. But I frequently get “amendments” detailing where I should send my invoice (well, if you insist, I’ll send you one!) for a job I never even saw on the board in the first place. Or the breakdown I received from a large commercial casting director for a ‘Dad’ who could be Male or Female apparently and any age. Well! This is a pain and can’t be that difficult to change.

There is a little comments box for when you apply for jobs. You can fill this to a maximum of 1000 characters. But what with? I think it needs some more clarity over whether it’s for a short cover letter? A long cover letter? A topical joke? My phone number? I go with a short cover letter and a phone number.

Feedback from Spotlight: “We’re absolutely committed to giving our members the best experience and opportunities possible and are always working hard to improve our service for actors and others in the industry. This includes a commitment to dropping the showreel and voicereel charge by the end of 2012. We’re in the process of completely overhauling our video services, giving performers more flexibility and better quality. Isabelle is right though. Working via mobile and tablets is very much the future of the industry and, again, this is something we’re working towards as this will be of benefit to the whole industry.

With regard to the comments box, we’d encourage members to emphasise the skills they have for a particular role. For example, if the casting director mentions they’re looking for a Soprano with ballet skills, this is a good opportunity to expand on why the skills on your CV make you suitable for the role. But we will look into making the purpose of the box clearer. Similarly, we are working with both our technology and industry partners to ensure that breakdowns that are not relevant to a performer are kept to a minimum.

We’re always keen on hearing feedback. Any suggestions are always passed to the relevant team and often play a large part in helping us improve the services Isabelle and other members use on a daily basis.”

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Talent Circle

Site: www.talentcircle.org

Talent Circle was another one I simply hadn’t heard of. You receive a daily bulletin with casting calls and other industry jobs. Its website has the unfortunate tagline “We are all in it together.” which brings up some uncomfortable David Cameron or High School Musical connotations, depending on how stagey you are. Here there is a board specifically for actors and a separate jobs board.

It says it’s “the UK’s most used and World’s largest film network for film professionals, filmmakers, production staff, actors and film talent.” but given how few breakdowns there were on here, and how little were paid, I found it hard to believe.

But hey, it’s free!

Pros

Free!

It’s a pretty standard email a day-casting board on the website deal. The email requires some serious scrolling until you get to the casting bit but the board was easy to navigate.

I saw a couple of indie features and shorts here that weren’t anywhere else.

Cons

Again, it’s lack of traffic/lack of pay. Not the end of the world though, as it’s free.

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To Be Seen

Cost – £4.99/month

Site: www.tobeseen.co.uk

Discount for Actors’ Guild members: No discount offered.

This was another website I hadn’t heard of that surprised me somewhat. There was a wide range of work here – from small regional theatre work to large commercials.

You use free text on your profile to display your credits, skills etc., which is excellent for making your CV personalised.

They will be relaunching in the next few months – review to follow then.

Feedback from To Be Seen: “To Be Seen recognises the different types & levels of talent hence we list all jobs including student productions, low budget short films, fully paid feature films, TV productions, corporate videos, online series, theatre productions. Our team are currently developing the website based on feedback received from talent and people & companies posting the auditions. We will be re-launching Autumn 2012.”

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The Page UK

Cost – £5/month

Site: www.thepageuk.com

Discount for Actors’ Guild members: No discount available at the moment

This one’s boxfresh, brand new and raring to go.

You can build a pretty standard CV/skill page and upload pictures, audio, and video. There’s also a forum, and a jobs board will soon be live. The website is very easy to use (including a wonderful multiple upload function. It was started by an actor and a programmer as a casting service that “works for actors as well as casting professionals” and it certainly does seem to be actor friendly.

The jobs board isn’t live yet. Review to follow once it’s established.

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Summary

So, after a month of going cross-eyed in front of a computer screen, where do I stand? I am rehearsing a play called The Lodger at the Pentameters Theatre in Hampstead, which opens 7th August. I found this in PCR and did not see it listed anywhere else. I did a student short a couple of weeks ago that I found on CCP. I’m now weighing up which I’ll carry on subscribing to and which I’ll let go. I hope this helps you narrow them down a little when you’re choosing.

Isabelle Farah

 

Footnotes:
All prices right at time of publication, 6th August 2012




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