Internet | Reports

Online Casting via

1 Apr , 1998  

Written by Trina Jackson | Posted by:

It's the way the Internet was meant to be used. This start-up business provides actors with exposure to producers and gives producers a free, efficient alternative to sifting through the daunting stack of headshot photos and résumés.

So you’ve got a location and some equipment for your small budget film. Now it’s time to cast for your project and there’s very little time or money left over.

Or you’re an actor who’s just started working with very few connections in the field and need a cost-effective way of promoting yourself for hire. Even if you do have a lot of work under your belt, you could really use an easy way to keep your information current that requires less time and effort.

Or, maybe you do have a generous casting budget for a commercial, but only have a vague idea of what kind of person you’re looking for and you need to quickly look take a look at your options.

One effort that answers all of these needs is, an internet service that puts actors’ profiles in an on-line searcheable database for producers. The idea occured almost a year ago to a group of professionals from all sides: producers, casting agents, and technology gurus, according to Lisa Lobel, one of the company’s founders and its Chief Operating Officer. They wanted to use technology to bridge the needs of producers and directors with interesting projects and talented actors looking to increase their own exposure.

"Digitalcasting is hoping to make on-line casting a standard in the filmmaking process," she said. "Actors greatly appreciate the increase in accessibility to their headshots and resume information and users [directors, producers, casting agents] enjoy the 24×7 accessibility of this information through the Internet."

It’s an effort that makes a lot of sense. Just as various employers are using the Internet to fill job vacancies with online résumés, digitalcasting provides the same efficient and cost-effective alternative to sifting through the daunting stack of headshot photos and résumés.

The response to the site has been overwhelmingly positive, said Ms. Lobel. Though they don’t keep track of all the talent who actually are hired for jobs, they do know from the calls they receive from actors and production staff alike, a great many users do get called for auditions. Lobel cites one instance where 75 union extras alone were hired for one locally produced commercial alone, and over 100 non-union extras were hired on another project. More than 50 producers, directors, and photographers from a variety of companies have visited the site in the last six months, she said.

"We want the site to help actors get more work by making it easy for producers and directors to fulfill their specific needs regionally. We hope to continue to populate the site, as well as spread the word to industry professionals who will benefit from using it."

Promoting the site involves using traditional marketing channels such as announcements in trade publications like the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) book, direct mail, production guides, and publicity from articles and word-of-mouth.

The people behind, which also includes Ms. Lobel’s husband Eran, Head of Production at September Productions in Boston, Massachusetts, are supported by "army of programmers who keep the site secure and bug-free" and an additional part-time data entry person.

So far, the biggest obstacle – what Ms. Lobel calls "a chicken and egg factor" – is getting producers to believe there are enough talent to choose from in the database and actors believing that there’s enough producers using the service. But clearly that is  changing. To date, there over 300 actors in the database and 50 registered users from advertising agencies, independent film companies, theaters and professional photographers.

One natural concern is how to protect the privacy of the actors, who are encouraged not to list home phone numbers, but a pager number, or agent contact. The website is password-protected and users must register to access the service after completing an application for an account that must be approved by the company’s founders. A record is kept of everyone who gains access.

The website features a press release and five links including news, which features a press release, the search link, an FAQ (frequently asked questions) and a chat room. Visitors can conduct a sample search. A pull down menu allows users to choose the characteristics they’re looking for in talent. What you get is a thumbnail photo and all the vital information, plus an audio component that allows users to hear the actors voice. But even with all this accessibility, a face-to-face meeting still is still the best way to determine a good fit. Lobel says they strongly advise users meet actors before making a decision.

Plans for cosmetic changes to enhance attractiveness and usability include casting instructions (union rules and non-union recommendations), callback list formats, choices of layouts for printing actor information, development of the chat room, bulletin boards for auditions, and personalized e-mail accounts and home pages.

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