Spotlight: Starcast Auditions
As those of you pursuing an acting career can attest, one of the main problems in starting out is getting attention for your work. And as casting professionals can attest, finding genuinely talented new talent is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Today, we’re spotlighting a website/web service which aims to solve both of those problems. Starcast CEO Gary Beer, founding CEO of the Sundance Film Festival, answered our questions.
What was the inspiration for starting the site? Starcast Auditions is a collaboration by Chairman Jules Haimovitz (former president of MGM Networks and Viacom Networks), Co-CEO David Hope (former COO of Polygram TV), and me. It was created to fill several voids in the industry. It’s difficult for actors to have their acting objectively assessed, and there was no affordable platform to get feedback from a professional. But more importantly, there was no venue for actors to be guaranteed their auditions would be seen.
There are many listing services out there or sites where you can submit an audition, but those services are just a numbers game. When there are thousands of people submitting for the same part, most audition tapes aren’t even going to be reviewed. Likewise, there was no easy way for those outside Hollywood (and often, even those inside Hollywood) to get seen by industry professionals. There are, of course, platforms like YouTube—but the chances are slim that the right people will come across your video. And YouTube has been much less successful at launching actors than singers. So StarCast guarantees actors visibility. We get them seen by the right people, no matter where they live. If they’ve got talent, they’ll get the exposure they need. It’s very simple, but it’s unprecedented.
When did it launch? Very recently. We held our first auditions in late December of 2011.
How many videos currently go up per cycle in each demographic? Casting directors are allowed to chose four videos per demographic each cycle (up to 96 videos every two weeks), but they typically choose far less. There are many people who are on the border of best performance quality, but still need a little work before they can put their best foot forward to the industry. That’s why we give feedback.
How can an actor outside of Los Angeles benefit from the site? One of the best things about StarCast is that it’s all online, so you can audition from anywhere. Our casting directors are in Los Angeles and New York, but we’ve selected actors from as far away as the UK, Canada, and Korea. They get exposure to key people in Hollywood without having to go anywhere.
What is the #1 rookie mistake you’ve noticed or your experts have pointed out? That’s a great question. We get a lot of videos from actors who likely have experience in school or professional plays who need to take it down a notch when doing an audition meant for film and TV casting directors. Everything is very big for the stage. Acting styles have to be adjusted.
What is the #1 thing actors can do to give themselves an advantage? Memorize their lines, and bring their own personality to the performance.
Who are the industry members currently using the site? Our official reviewers are Yesi Ramirez, Gretchen Rennell Court and Amy Taksen Somers. Their credits are just phenomenal, including THE DESCENDENTS, the new 21 JUMP STREET, THE HORSE WHISPERER, and “The Office.” As far as the industry members who are registered with us to find talent, we respect their privacy and don’t disclose that information. But we have a great selection of managers, producers, casting directors, and talent agents who have used our site to find talent already, including a talent manager who reps a series regular on the show “New Girl,” and talent managers from Evolution Management, which reps Charlie Sheen.
How well known is the site and how are you getting the word out to industry members? We’re only in beta, so we’re not meant to be hugely known as we test and refine our services. But that said, we already have a shockingly strong response from industry members. Everyone involved with our site – down to even our customer service reps – are involved in the industry, so getting the word out has been very easy and organic. And yet, we also have tons of industry professionals who have seen an article about us or found us on Twitter. It’s great to see that growth and awareness happening so quickly. And response has been tremendously positive.
What are some of the results that actors have had by being featured on your site? Many have been contacted by producers, managers and talent agents for roles or representation. Three of StarCast’s best performers have signed with reps, two with managers and the other by an agent.
How do you see the site (or brand) growing in the future? Is there a life beyond this website that you foresee? We have all kinds of great plans for the future. There will be a lot of services and functionalities that we’re adding in the next 6 months. We’ll be excited to be able to talk about it when the time comes.
Is there anything I haven’t asked that you feel is key in talking about this site? One of the things that we hate seeing in this space is how many scammers there are out there. We encounter a lot of actors who have been burned before. And less harmful but not quite harmless, there are lots of sites and services out there that don’t really do for actors what they claim—or don’t do it well. We have a robust Twitter and Facebook following, and our users are always messaging us on those platforms how much they love our service, and how it has renewed hope for them. They’ve all butted against so many dead ends and false starts. We’re thrilled to be able to come into this space with the incredible team of industry vets that we have, throw our collective weight behind this, and deliver for these people. The value proposition to actors is huge, and it’s unseen in this space.
For more info or to get information on the next round of auditions, visit Starcast Auditions.
Photo of founders by Thomas Wasper/LABJ.
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