Alright, folks we are officially starting a new series called “Back To Basics”. This will consist of just that: the basics. Casting sites, headshots, self-tapes, do’s and don’ts, etc. I think this is so important because more often than not, I assume everyone around me already knows all the things I know. I realize how silly that sounds, but we often get caught up in our own learning curve and forget that we too were once brand new to all the things.
I want this series to cover topics/tips that help brand new actors! And for those of you with 2-3 years in the business, you will most likely already know it (but isn’t it nice sometimes to be reminded of how much knowledge you have accumulated??). So feel free to share this with actors in other markets and areas of their career!
Casting websites and the proverbial oxygen that keep you alive in this business. I remember basically slamming my head into the hostess stand at my restaurant job trying (and failing) to figure out how in the hell I was supposed to get auditions. I moved here for this, where are they?!? Enter: casting websites. And although certain ones (Breakdown Services) are reserved for agents and managers, the rest aren’t, which evens our playing field (especially for my non-union crew out there). Let’s first discuss what you will need to get on the sites:
Headshot(s)- no less than two, no more than 10. Please look like your headshots. More on that here.
Resume- you will enter in your credits on these sites individually, however having someplace to copy/paste from will make your life a lot easier. And try to make them streamlined. If you don’t have credits you can list some school theatre, etc. But just keep it small, we know you’re new and that’s ok.
(optional but eventually needed) Footage- a reel or acting clips (both is great!). If you are brand brand brand new, you can have self-tapes as placeholders for video, but work to procure some content!
(optional but get one I hear) Slate Shot- a simple video of you saying your name. Hi/hello optional but I like it to give them a vibe. You can also state where you live and your height.
Note, you can update these whenever you want, but on most sites, there is a fee associated with more photos or footage. So It’s worth waiting a week or two for the nice edited photos from your photographer.
Breakdown Services / Actors Access – Why does this have two names you ask? Breakdown Services is the top of the casting food-chain. It houses most of the tv auditions (except FOX) and most feature films. It also has commercials and various other jobs. If you are only on one platform, this is the one. However Breakdown Services is only available to reps, you have to have steep credentials to gain access and it costs a lot of cash. However they have an actor-accessible side aptly named Actor’s Access. Here you can sign up for a profile with a handful of free images and this will link to your reps Breakdown Services when you sign with them (super easy email they send you). Here you have access to any audition breakdown that is open for self submissions. And don’t dis a self-submit, I have done some awesome jobs (including being on the Emmys) that came from a self-submit. I opt to pay the yearly fee to be able to self-submit unlimited, and union members have a SAG-AFTRA discount code
LA Casting aka Casting Network- This is the king of commercial and print postings. They also have various backgrounds and sometimes VO posted here. It is called a different name in different networks, but for myself in Los Angeles, it is LA Casting. It also has a monthly fee for access to submissions.
IMDb Pro- Although not commonly thought of as a casting site, IMDb is imperative. After writing this article I was told by several casting directors they often check an actor’s IMDb before any other site. This means you need to keep it polished and updated with recent photos and videos. You will need at least one credit to join this site, but a student film works if it is registered! That was actually my first listed credit (shoutout to you, Summer of the Spy!) You can also request credit if you didn’t get included in a project’s IMDb page. The process to do so it a bit tedious as Jeff Bezos hasn’t had time to update it (yes IMDb is owned by Amazon) but it’s worth it.
Casting Frontier- This is another very popular commercial casting website. Commercial agents will request you join and they offer a handful of free photos as well. The platform it self is a bit archaic and I do not personally submit to jobs on it.
Backstage- Another casting resource I have not personally utilized but several actors enjoy. They have a lot of plays and theatre-type casting but also include more music videos and other odd jobs. I think this is also a great resource for beginner background work if that is something you are interested in.
WeAudition- You guys know I love me some WeAudition. They originated as an online portal for actors to rehearse, called WeRehearse, and had a separate platform for hosting online auditions (ahead of their time much??) but now they are all combined into one site! So this is a great place to get your feet wet in terms of working material and also a good site to be on to participate in their castings and general meetings. PS- I have a discount code, if you use BROKE25 at checkout you get a $7.50 membership for life (and you better believe I used my own code).
Please note: there are LOTS of places auditions are posted these days. But the sites listed here are (to my knowledge) the most legit ones currently used by casting directors and producers. So get yourself on at least the top three!