The world is quite rapidly changing in the process of adapting to technological advancement – and there isn’t a visible cap that can be put in the near future on the number of domains that are going to make the switch to online. Casting is one of them; what previously required efforts of scheduling mass auditions for a lengthy selection process, and then reaching out to the different movie/commercial companies in need of talent can now be completed within a number of clicks and days.
It’s quite easy, even for those who aren’t really accustomed to technology (assuming someone else apart from Woody Allen falls into this category). It’s mostly a matter of subscribing to such an agency online, which will then post your portfolio on specific platforms accessed by casting directors or full-out forward them to agencies. Auditions may be a simple case of a Skype call or you sending them a video of a requested or free-form performance.
The best thing is that it doesn’t matter if you’re from San Francisco, NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston or that city in Michigan everyone makes fun of; you instantly have a broader range of opportunities than the majority of local recruiters offer, and you might find yourself some casting director willing to pay you to come across the country for a role that might start your career in its earnest. You may even manage to get into a Disney Channel role like this and kick-start your career from your young years. So traditional casting agencies beware: this might as well be what the future looks like as far as casting goes.
How does online casting work?
We are going to follow up on the example of casting site backstage.com for this bit. It is maybe the most representative standard for the online casting industry at the moment. It’s not reserved only for actors and extras; it’s also a platform for dancers, models, comedians and many others seeking significant exposure. The basics would sound like this: those in need of actors for commercials or even feature films post it there, and those who have signed-up for a membership with the site can apply for the ones they feel would be prepared for. The caster can also search for talent from the site’s database, comprised by those who have membership.
Of course, it’s more complicated than that actually. Since the recruiting site also needs its cut, it works this way: there are tiered memberships that aspirants can choose from. The lowest tier is free, but it also gives you access to cheap jobs as well; you can mostly expect indie films and low-tier commercials mostly. It all scales up to the $20 per month option, which gives you full access to jobs and information about them.
Now, that doesn’t cut off the ability for casting directors to find you when they search for specific talent – but the catch is that, like in certain search engines, subscribers will be shown first in the search results. Is this fair overall? Well, not really – it’s actually capitalism mingling into arts and entertainment at its best. At the same time, probably most of the people going for it can’t afford to spare $50,000 per year for a decent acting school where they would make important connections – so $20 per month for the best shot at being cast or invited to an audition doesn’t seem that much in retrospective.
“Selling” yourself is the key
If there’s one thing that I can agree with when it comes to online casting, it’s that aspirants are mostly coming off with the image of a product – no matter how much personal and professional information you can attach. That’s expected to happen when casting directors can browse through thousands of profiles without having direct contact like it would happen at massive, open auditions.
Still, it isn’t that dramatic – it’s not like the best looking bloke will surely land that important role in the new sequel to Whatever: The Original Vegas Blockbuster. Online casting goes more akin to online job applications than you’d guess; with the difference that recruiters are aware that most of their recruiting base are accustomed and suitable for the domain, so that means that they will probably peruse more in-depth. And that’s your chance, especially if you’re relatively unknown until now.
You firstly need to take advantage of everything your tier of subscription on the site of your choosing gives you. For example, nowcasting.com offers more options to add to your profile with each tier of premium membership. Photos and videos are paramount to give a good impression about your skill – one trick, for those willing to do it, would be having your pictures show you in as many different appearances as possible (bearded, shaved, long-haired, dyed, looking like a Miami Vice cast out etc.). This will show the casting director that you are willing to change your physical aspect to be suitable for a role.
Any past experience (past roles, plays, education, internship and so forth) can also be nice as complementary to this profile, but is great if you also can provide video evidence for it. This is the only way that your talent is going to be assessed before being decided if you’ll be called upon further or not (of course, that won’t apply if you’re looking for porn castings, and this is neither the place to get information for that). It depends on what your purpose is; if for example you’re just looking to land a role as an extra in a commercial, a couple of images will probably just suffice.
In the end, I’d still like to point out that even though a bit rough at its edges right now, online casting will shape up to be the standard at some point. The possibilities are endless; imagine how else, for example, would and aspiring actor from Boston be contacted to fly to New Orleans to audition for a new SF animation voiceover scheduled to air on Comedy Central? It’s probably just a matter of time until Hollywood gets its next wave of Jeff Perrys and Nancy Sinatras from the immense database of online casting.