Update (4/13/19) – In addition to fixing the format on this post so it’s consistent with the new layout of my site, I’ve added critiques of four more casting resources to the mix!
Late last year, I decided it was time for me to get back into the Acting game. Professionally speaking, at least. I’d put things on hold in 2009 because of a variety of reasons (which I’m sure I’ll write about in another post at some point), knowing I’d get back to pursuing my dreams “someday.” Y’know, when the conditions are perfect and the stars are aligned, yadda yadda yadda, et cetera and so forth, ad infinitum.
Well, that perfect “someday” will never come. So, after some soul-searching and consideration, I decided late last year that then was as good a time as any to declare that I’m back, and committed myself to going at it harder than ever. I got new headshots, revamped my website, put together some video clips, gave my social media a makeover, re-read The Business of Acting, updated my action plan, and got back on all of the casting sites.
That last one was perhaps the most expensive and time-consuming task out of all of them. It’s one thing to spend $300 or so on new pictures. It’s another to pay through the nose to upload them everywhere (not to mention post video clips, fill out size cards and skill sheets, update my credits, etc.).
So, with all that in mind, I wanted to put together a list of the casting sites I’m using right now and my impressions of them. Your mileage may vary.
By request, I’ve now added shortcuts to all of the sites reviewed:
- ActorsAccess (Updated 4/13/19)
- Actors’ Equity Casting Call
- Casting Frontier
- L.A. Casting
- Now Casting
- IMDb Pro (Updated 4/13/19)
- Hollywood Casting and Film (Added 4/13/19)
- Cast It Talent (Added 4/13/19)
- ActivePitch (Added 4/13/19)
- Casting About (Added 4/13/19)
- Bonus! iActor and TPLLA
With that, let’s take a look at site #1:
TL;DR – An absolute must to register and use regularly. Thankfully not the most expensive, compared to the competition.
Powered by Breakdown Services (yeah as in “The Breakdowns” Breakdown Services).
- Headshots – First two headshots are free. Each picture after that is $10
- Media – $22 per minute of video (ouch), $11 per minute of audio
- Unlimited Self-Submission/Unlimited Sides Downloading – $68 a year for access. No monthly installment option. (Update 4/13/19 -SAG-AFTRA members can apparently get a 20% discount somehow, but no one’s shown me how to do it yet.)
- SlateShots – First one’s free(!). $5 each additional clip. These are slate clips that can be attached to your headshots. Check out the bonus info below to see how they affect your profile visibility.
You get a profile page (like mine here). New breakdowns are posted all the time on here, and you can have casting notices you’re appropriate for sent directly to your inbox. Plus, it’s always a thrill to get C-Mail – that usually means you have an audition.
One of the two absolute industry staples (the other being LA Casting). If you want to work in this town, you need to be on here. Once you have representation, your agent will be able to submit you to casting notices on Breakdown Services through this site. In the meantime, you can submit yourself to film, TV, and theatre projects to build up your resume and get reel material.
I was going to post a screenshot of a breakdown but saw their notice saying that all breakdowns are confidential and copyrighted and can’t be re-posted or shared on social media without written permission… right beneath their Twitter and Facebook share buttons. No, seriously:
So, make of that what you will.
Also, I know in the grand scheme of things that this is minor, but it appears that they’ve updated their interface over the years to try and keep with the times and current technology. Or they’ve just applied a new template. Either way, Actors’ Access has aged better than some of their competition, and I sincerely appreciate the effort.
BONUS INFO! (Added 1/12/18)
A friend of mine who works at Actors Access as a Customer Service Rep sent me the following information on how to maximize the effectiveness of your account:
There is a “pecking order” that determines how submissions are presented to casting directors on Actors Access/Breakdown Express:
- Submissions that have a photo, demo and Slate Shot (see footnote) appear at the top of the results. Then comes…
- Photo with demo, no Slate Shot
- Photo, no demo WITH Slate Shot.
- Photo only, (No Slate Shot, no demo)
- No photo, DEMO ONLY (believe it or not…)
- No photo or demo. (Yes, this happens, too.)
(NOTE: Slate Shots are paired to a specific photograph. When that photo is used to accompany a submission it affects the placement in the casting director’s results.)
Also, free photos can be swapped out at will without being charged. But, if there is a Slate Shot attached to the photo, it is removed when the photo is deleted and there is a fee to upload a new one.
What’s next? Someone you might not expect.
TL;DR – If you’re a member of Actors’ Equity, this is an excellent tool and member benefit. Use it.
From their site – “Designed with you in mind, Equity’s Casting Call is focused on accessibility and signing up for auditions with ease. For members on the road, members out of town or even for those sitting at home, Casting Call is a member feature that is dedicated to making searching for a job a lot easier.
And, sign up online! Not only are you able to sign up for Equity Chorus Calls (you’ll receive a number and confirmation email), but you have the option to save notices you’re interested in and add upcoming auditions directly to your calendar — you can even cancel an appointment right here in the Member Portal.
Search for jobs across the country. Casting Call offers search options that allow you to exercise control over where you want to work. In addition to searching for work by contact and call, you can search by state, office location or individual liaison city. You can even explore jobs by either audition site or job location.”
- Union initiation fee, annual membership dues.
- Your ability to do non-Equity theatre.
- Possibly your soul.
The ability to search and sign up for EPAs & ECCs nationwide.
Okay, my beef with Equity over the whole 99-seat fiasco aside, I really like this system. You simply scout listings, review breakdowns and sign up to attend auditions. I’ve already used it a lot to sign up for EPAs. I know actors in New York live and die by Casting Call (and have had issues with it), but I have had no trouble registering for calls here in the Western Region. The lack of demand in Los Angeles works to my advantage. I check it weekly and have used it to sign up for and attend multiple auditions already. If you’re a member of Equity, you should absolutely check it regularly and use it.
The one bummer is that they don’t have the ability to build a casting profile that you can send electronically for submission calls. I missed the deadline for a submission to the Geffen because I was traveling when I saw it and didn’t have headshots or resumes with me, ready to drop in snail mail. Bummer, because that looked like a great show.
Also, note to self: print headshots and resumes, and get envelopes/postage for my office-in-a-bag.
Next up is a classic. They’ve been in the casting game longer than almost anyone.
TL;DR – Expensive, but worth it. Look for a $99/yr. promo for your first year. Pretty sure they run them all the time.
The most trusted name in casting, since 1960. Once a weekly newspaper, they’ve now gone full-on blog (while maintaining a weekly print magazine). I’d had a subscription to the paper in the days of Backstage West, and would scour the listings and submit black-and-white headshots and resumes with cover letters via snail mail (I swear, actors in L.A. singlehandedly kept the local post office in business back then). I also walked to school in the snow uphill both ways.
Boy, do I miss their theatre reviews.
- Profile, Messaging, Self-Submission Access – $149.95/yr. (6-Month, Monthly installments available).
- Electronic + Print subscription to Backstage – $17.49/mo.
You get a profile page (check out mine) and can search/submit to breakdowns. Extensive filtering system. Plus, with your digital subscription, you get access to their extensive library of trade articles.
Headshot and media uploads are included in your subscription.
They also have Call Sheet, their industry database of agents, managers, and casting directors. If you’re going to put together a mailing database, you’ll need Call Sheet.
I wasn’t going to sign up for Backstage because I thought $20/mo. or $149/yr. was too expensive. Also, I’m pissed that they don’t have theatre critics on staff anymore. But I found a promo – $99 for my first year – and decided to try it. That was a good decision, as I got my first audition back through a listing in Backstage. Now, I check it daily, and I’m reading their articles regularly as I ease my way back into the industry. Worth it. Use it.
We have a relative newcomer to the online casting/submission game up next.
TL;DR – Having a free profile on here is a must. I have signed up for a Premium Plus account and haven’t seen any benefit yet, but your mileage may vary.
From their website: “Casting Frontier maintains one of the largest talent databases and casting call listing services in the U.S. Whether you’re an actor, talent agent or manager, casting director or content creator, we offer cutting-edge technology to find or post casting calls to top commercial, digital, film, print or TV projects in LA, New York and nationwide.”
- Three tiers of access – Free, Premium, and Premium Plus, with varying levels of perks and upload caps. Look here for a breakdown.
You get a profile page (check out mine) and can search/submit to (mostly commercial) breakdowns via Direct Submit. You can also flag yourself as seeking representation and be scouted by agents and managers.
Headshot and media uploads are included in your subscription. The number of headshots and media clips allowed depends on your subscription level.
Seems like there’s a regular flow of new breakdowns, but it’s not as busy as Actors Access or LA Casting.
Casting Frontier’s online service was just getting started when I got out of the game in 2008-09. I remember going to a commercial audition in Santa Monica at Casting Frontier’s office and being told to create a profile in their system. They then printed me an ID card that I’d scan whenever I signed in at an audition there. It looks like they’ve grown quite a lot since then.
A Premium Plus account is pricey ($95.99 for one year), but I thought I’d give it a shot in the name of research. I have checked their breakdowns every day since signing up and find projects I’m right for approximately every other day, but haven’t had any auditions yet. However, the projects listed here are mostly paying gigs and bigger opportunities – no student films or back alley theatre calls. Their filtering system is good, but their listing interface could be better.
Also, this is creepy as hell, but they’re the only casting service I’m on so far that lists how many social media followers you have. I don’t have much of a following (yet)… Maybe if I disconnect my accounts, I can get an audition through here? Worth a shot, I suppose.
They do offer monthly plans, but you save a ton paying a year in advance. That being said, it’s an expensive site, and I haven’t derived enough benefit from it yet to tell whether it’s worth paying for or not. I’ll update this article with a decision at one point in the future.
Four down, three to go. Next, we have another industry staple. (spoiler – it’s LA Casting) Learn why they’re not my favorite.
TL;DR – If you want to work in L.A., you need to be on here. Problem is, they know you need to be on here so they nickel-and-dime you for everything. You’re going to have to bite the bullet and sign up.
From their website: “Create your personal online resume to submit to projects and share with your industry contacts. Show the Casting Director what you can do before the audition. Add unlimited media clips up to 4 minutes each. Enable Talent Scout® to let Agents and Managers know you’re seeking representation. Submit your resume to film, television, and commercial roles online.”
- Monthly access – Well, if you have an agent, a monthly account is free. Otherwise, it’s $14.95/mo. for access to Casting Billboard (their online submission system) and media services. You can also pay 6 months ($74.50) or one year in advance ($149.00)
- Headshot Uploads – This is where they nail you. $25 for the first headshot uploaded at any given time, plus $15 each additional headshot. Holy crap, man. Not only do you have to pay out the nose per upload, but they also manually approve headshots on their end before they go live. Why? Nobody else does that. Not anymore, at least. I mean, it’s better than when you had to go into their office and bring them your headshots on CD to hand to them and have them upload your pictures to your profile manually (no, I’m not joking), but not much. Oh, and you can’t delete your own pictures – you have to ask their customer service team to do that for you. Why?
You get a profile page (like so) and can search/submit to (mostly commercial) breakdowns via Casting Billboard. You can also flag yourself as seeking representation and be scouted by agents and managers.
Media uploads are included in your subscription. So huzzah there. As a matter of fact, you can have an unlimited number of clips up to 4 minutes in length uploaded at any given time. Why they can’t give you the same courtesy for headshots is beyond me, other than it’s making them a killing.
Lots of new breakdowns every day, mostly commercials, but a lot of high-end student films (USC Grad Films, etc.) and other theatrical projects on there. Also, apparently what’s left of Fox’s television division has ditched Breakdown Services and is now using LA Casting. So there’s that.
Okay, so I guess my main complaint about these guys is that they charge you an arm and a leg to upload headshots. I mean, it cost me $155 to upload nine pictures. When I’m already paying $14.95 per month for access? That’s insane!
Also, I know this seems petty, but while they’ve given the front-end of their website a makeover, their backend interface is still the same as it was ten years ago. Sort of like putting a new coat of paint on an old car, but not springing for a better engine – it’ll only get you so far.
Gripes aside, there are a lot of breakdowns on here, and you don’t have to pay for access to Casting Billboard and most of their premium services if you have representation. So, charging per upload makes a certain amount of sense (except non-represented actors get screwed).
This is one of the giants of the industry; one of the sites you simply have to be on if you want to work on this town, and I was getting called in regularly through their system back in the day. So, bite the bullet, open your wallet, and get on there.
And hey, as much as I gripe about LA Casting, they’re lightyears ahead of the next site. These guys didn’t age well at all.
TL;DR – That picture should speak volumes. This is the only site I go on where, when I run a search for Union Projects Fit for Me, I regularly get a message saying that there are no Current Now Casting Notices that match my profile. Set up a free profile so you can have a presence on there, but don’t pay for anything. If you’re Union and looking for real work, you can forget this site exists.
- Monthly access – There are a bunch of different plans. I tried the Professionals Plus for $16/mo. which allows me to maintain a multimedia profile, submit to breakdowns, and access a bunch of premium “services” I’ll address below. Again, I’d suggest going with a free account and just maintaining a profile on here. If nothing else, you can use it to create another link to your IMDb or personal website, which is good for your SEO.
You get a profile page (boom) and can search/submit to their breakdowns. You can also submit your casting profile to agents and managers interested in signing new clients.
Headshot and media uploads are included in all memberships. You can only have six headshots uploaded, no matter what level you’re on.
This site used to be awesome back in the day. I booked a lot of student films and small projects through it. But it looks like the company has stopped caring. Like, completely. I paid for The Professional account for one month to try out their premium features. Well, the casting and production databases they said were updated daily clearly hadn’t been touched in years (why do they have Alien: Covenant listed as “Currently Shooting”? How do they not have an address for April Webster Casting?), the postcard mailing tool linked in the premium dashboard has been suspended, and their monologue and scene database is comically small. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
I’ll sum it all up for you with one statement: as soon as I finished writing this page, I canceled my Professional account and went back to a Free one.
Well then. Let’s look at one more site and try to get this bad taste out of our mouths, shall we?
TL;DR – Worth it.
- Subscription – $19.95/mo. to add pictures to your profile. You can also add media, submit to breakdowns, and access their extensive database with a robust suite of tools. Update 4/13/19 – Members of SAG-AFTRA can get a discount if they use the code ‘sagaftra’ and pay only $13.95/mo. You can apply this code to your account even after you’ve been a member for a while.
You can either build or claim your profile (like so) and can submit your IMDb page as a casting profile to casting notices. A pretty ingenious setup.
You can research the hell out of any project you’re interested in.
Headshot and media uploads are included in all memberships, which is awesome. The one bummer is, if you don’t pay for an account, you don’t get to have a picture on your profile at all.
You want to be on here. I know it’s not the first place you think of when you think “where can I submit to casting breakdowns” but in the month I’ve been submitting daily, there have been enough new notices posted regularly to keep me interested. Besides, the submission system is almost a secondary benefit compared to the database tools you get with a pro account.
Funny story: I actually got an offer of representation from a talent manager through IMDb Pro recently. I’d submitted to a film they were packaging and they offered to represent me. After doing my homework on them, and some careful consideration, I declined the offer. But it was nice to be noticed and considered.
TL;DR – Worth putting a free profile up here. However, the casting submission system’s still a little clunky, and you only get breakdowns for projects that cast at their office.
- Free – Create a profile with headshots, resume, video clips.
- Subscription – $12.95/mo.
From their website: “By becoming a Hollywood Casting and Film premium member you will have the ability to both browse and submit for all of the roles in the Hollywood Casting and Film database. Need an actor website? Create and customize your own through Hollywood Casting at no additional cost. Filmmakers will be able to invite you to upcoming casting that may be right for you. Create an account to get started today!”
You can submit directly on projects that are casting in their facility.
These guys are trying to be the next Casting Frontier by allowing actors to submit on projects that are casting in their office in Hollywood. I can’t blame them! It’s worked out pretty well for the CF guys. But I’m not going to lie; I had a premium account on this site for about a month and then cancelled it. There just wasn’t enough activity on there for me to make it worth the price. And besides, most of the projects they have on their site are projects I’ve already submitted on through ActorsAccess.
I respect the hustle, but it’s just not worth my money to have more access to the same breakdowns I get on Actors Access or Backstage. Furthermore, the profile system and casting interface could use some polish. It’s not the most user-friendly experience to have multiple video clips and resumes uploaded to your profile, but you can’t label them or see preview thumbnails. All you get are links that say “file” or “demo reel” and unless you remember the order in which you uploaded everything, you’re not going to know what it is you’re deleting. That’s a UX issue that certainly needs to be addressed.
TL;DR – Meh. But your mileage may vary.
- Free – Create a profile with headshots, resume, video clips. Pay $5/submission.
- Subscription – $19/mo. or $180/yr. for unlimited video submission, headshot and resume hosting, and 10gb of video hosting, as well as other benefits.
From their website: “Every Major film and television studio uses Cast It to make their casting decisions. Every day a community of more than 10,000 studio executives, producers, directors, and casting professionals log in to Cast It. We provide our audience of over 250,000 actors and talent representatives the information and tools you need to succeed.”
Okay, when I signed with Maxx Management last year, they told me to create a profile on here, so I did. I’d never heard of them before, but when I first saw their site, I was like “whoa! Why haven’t I heard of them before now?” After all, they talk a big game (see “Benefit” above). But with big talk comes big expectations. And when you can’t meet big expectations, there’s a big letdown.
Well, I’m hoping the guys at Maxx got more use out of my account than I did, because while I was active on there for the 90 days I was with Maxx, there were very few submission opportunities right for me. When I tried to submit on the opportunities I did fit, the system wanted me to submit a self-tape, and notified me they’d send me the sides via e-mail.
Trouble was, none of the projects wanted to submit on had uploaded sides for those self-tapes.
So, basically I was paying $19/mo. to… not submit myself to projects? On a site that boasts how all the major players use it? Hmm.
Also, their profile management interface was not the most pleasant user experience. It certainly didn’t inspire confidence to see the preview thumbnails of my headshots and reels distorted.
All that being said, I’m willing to keep an open mind about Cast It, specifically because I get the impression there are more tools on here for managers and agents, and they may have access to a whole other set of breakdowns than what’s available publicly. I’d be very interested in hearing from others who’ve used Cast It in the comments!
TL;DR – This is a tool for your representation to use to pitch you that you foot the bill on.
- Subscription – Ranges from $7/mo. to $34/mo. for 10 to 180 minutes of video storage, plus unlimited headshots and “pitches.”
From their website: “ActivePitch is the best way to organize and share your work with your agent, manager, publicist or casting. It also provides a system for your representatives to send and track links customized with your scenes that best pertain to the role. If you’ve ever wanted to change the order or the content of your demo reel at will, this is the place to do it.”
This is the other site I was told to sign up for when I signed with Maxx. Basically, this is a tool I was paying for so my management could use it. Problem was, I never saw any activity on my profile. Make of that what you will. Once Maxx and I parted ways, I cancelled my subscription. I’ll consider revisiting them if my new reps want me to sign up, but overall, I’m not a fan of paying for a subscription service I don’t get to use directly.
TL;DR – An EXCELLENT resource. Well worth the annual subscription for the proactive actor looking to find out whose room you need to get into to book the job.
- Subscription – $9.95/mo. or $48.95/yr. for access to the database and tools.
From their website:
The Online Casting Director & Production Guide. Updated Daily.
Find addresses for CDs, associates & assistants
Track which projects are currently casting
Print your own mailing labels
If you’re a proactive actor in need of a powerful research tool to find out who’s casting that project you want to be on, sign up for CastingAbout. It’s pretty damn comprehensive (except I *still* can’t find the new Star Wars or Star Trek series in development listed anywhere – go figure). I’ve been using it for a while now to keep my Target List updated. This is what Now Casting wanted to build, except Breakdown Services beat them to the punch, and hard. You’ll love it.
Also, they put all of their breaking updates out on their Twitter feed, so give ’em a follow!
Y’know what? I think we’ve got time for a couple of bonus links:
First off, SAG-AFTRA’s iActor. I’ll be honest, I’d forgotten all about this site until tonight. I haven’t touched my profile since 2007. Looking at it, I’m suitably horrified and will spend the next hour after I post this updating it before I fall asleep.
I’ll post a link to my profile as soon as I get rid of those Johnny Depp-wannabe pics. (EDIT: Here you go – http://www.sagaftra.org/iactor/GregoryCrafts)
iActor didn’t leap directly to mind when I started getting back into the swing of things, because, like Actors Equity, it’s for union members only. However, unlike Actors Equity, there’s no submission system or audition notices posted. It’s just a profile. But it’s a profile that’s worth keeping updated.
Another place where theatre actors can post profiles? TPLLA.org. That’s right, before I stepped down from the Board of Directors for The Theatrical Producers League of Los Angeles, I was working with them on a casting profile database. If you want to work in TPLLA theaters, post a free profile on their site. You can post your reel and multiple headshots.
It also looks like they’re putting together a breakdown submission system. It’s still in the works, but it looks like it’s happening.
Finally, I do want to give one quick shout-out to a site where I got an unexpected amount of auditions, and even booked a couple paying jobs – CraigsList. No joke. I responded to casting notices on CraigsList and booked work. Now, CL can be sketchy as hell, so I don’t recommend it to everyone. A lot of the posts on there are scammy or utter crap, but you never know what budding filmmakers can be found on there. It doesn’t hurt to look.
So, that’s it! Thank you for reading my first actor resource entry. I hope you enjoyed it or at least found it useful.
What do you think?
Do you agree with my assessments? Or have you had different experiences with them? Did I miss your favorite casting site? Or did you discover a new one because of this list? Please let me know in the comments below!