Going it alone

  • Keith Chopping

    Actor

    Now that actors can subscribe, for free, to Spotlight Link by themselves if they have no agent - has anyone tried it and found that it works for them?

    all the best for 2008

    Keith

    • 8th Jan 2008
    • 2358
    • 25
  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    That sounds like an amazing development, Keith. But I can't find any obvious indications on the Spotlight website that this new function is in place - have you got any more details on the background to this?

    I think such a development will, if it is going ahead, undoubtedly have both beneficial, but also possibly deleterious, results...

    First off, I think it's obvious that most actors will welcome the opportunity to get the chance to see a wider range of casting breakdowns, offering access to better paying jobs, than they might otherwise ordinarily get (no disrespect to CCP, I hope, but they will be the first to acknowledge that many of the jobs on sites like this are lo pay). Seeing these casting breakdowns may help give individual actors better insights into how casting demographics for major companies and theatres work, and acquaint them better with the work of certain casting directors. One of the most important reasons that actors are so reliant on agency representation (aside from the simple fact that agents ensure the best payment deals on actors' behalves) is that only agents have access to this kind of confidential, privileged information, and so, it is often only through an agent's auspices that an actor is offered the chance to land a truly high ranking job. Simply put, there is little opportunity that the actor could easily get to know about the existence of the job in the first place without the agent's help.

    I am sure there are some actors out there who would love to represent themselves, and rather not have to give a slice of their earnings to an agent, some who simply cannot land an agent and need to find their own worthwhile work, and many who are saddled with agents whom they would be better off without. So, this 'democratising' of an application process would be a massive boon. Also, there is the old adage that the 'personal touch' can work wonders at the casting stage, and, frequently, what an agent may argue on your behalf is not as 'personalised' (and therefore as affecting?) as what you yourself may come up with.

    BUT

    with this said, I remain baffled by the development, and slightly disturbed by the implications of it. There seem to be good reasons why these sorts of casting set -ups have previously remained confidential. Essentially, when a Casting Director is looking to fill a part, then they hope to do the job with the minimum of difficulty, at the same time ensuring that an actor whose work will reflect well on their initial casting choice gets cast. So, casting directors naturally prefer to cast actors they trust - this is the number one criteria - that the actor will be able to deliver. Also, casting decisions often need to be made quickly, particularly in the world of TV and Screen.

    I think we, as actors, are ever hopeful that an open - minded casting director may want, on occasion, to cast their net wide, and we might get a chance to be seen for a part. And, within reason, given that we may have the correct look for a part etc., it's more than possible - but even this is rarely considered defensible without there being some kind of collateral incentive for the CD to want to take a 'chance' on you. This might be anything ranging from the fact that they know your day job matches the description of the character's to the fact that you have played very similar parts before, but most 'trust' of 'unknowns' is undoubtedly still generated by the fact that a) the 'unknown' actor is represented by a reputable agent b) the 'unknown' actor trained at an accredited institution c) the 'unknown' actor has proved themselves by performing regularly at notable venues, for notable companies, etc. etc. over years.

    Spotlight Link's traditional policy of confidentiality (I have it on good authority that Casting Directors can specify which agencies their casting breakdowns are sent to before they send them - so by no means all casting breakdowns end up in everyone's inbox) seems to complement all this. For a start, all casting directors signed up to the Link are assured that, at the very least, every application that gets sent to them comes from somebody who calls themselves an agent, and this not only guarantees a certain amount of respectability (every actor represented must have at least one person backing them who believes in their potential), but reduces the number of actors who may be 'allowed' to apply for a job to a substantial degree. It's not necessarily a question of whether this is fair or not - many tremendous actors remain without representation at any given time - but it does surely help casting directors to delimit the field of potential considerations. And then, as I say, the biggest of the lot will delimit this field even further by specifying *which* agencies of app. 700 odd are privileged enough to be allowed access to their breakdowns.

    What confuses me is that any 'opening out' of the Spotlight Link to all eligible subscribers will seriously dismay many Casting Directors (and some Agents) who rely on its ability to separate the wheat from the chaff. Literally anyone can get into Spotlight if they pay the fee and have managed to get some kind of headshot taken - the market for actors is notoriously oversaturated - if any actor at all is allowed to make applications via the Link on their own behalf, then casting directors, in particular, a) lose the reassurance that all the applications they are receiving are coming in from actors who can be 'trusted' to some extent and b) risk becoming snowed under by thousands, rather than mere hundreds, of applications for any given part. I think most casting directors will vote with their feet, and wishing to avoid these sorts of problems, will no longer advertise jobs on the Link openly, and resort solely to pre selecting specific agencies to whom they can send breakdowns. Those who *will* still advertise directly will remain those who are literally prepared to take all comers on for any potential project, and who will therefore probably be accessible through other channels in the first instance. This is already what happens with PCR, for instance - I have applied for at least one job through the journal that has been advertised under false pretences (i.e. PCR advertised the job, though the Casting Director hadn't asked them to - I assume a 'stringer' picked up the info, and published details of the so - called 'vacancy'). The casting director's caustic response was that she had absolutely no interest in being saddled with hundreds of random applications for a part she had filled internally, and that she would never have advertised in an organ like PCR for precisely this reason.

    I fail to understand quite why Spotlight should be prepared to undermine their own position by 'democratising' Spotlight Link - after all, whilst benefiting performers and subscribers *is* in their interests, surely being taken seriously by Casting Directors and Agents is equally important to them? This is also regardless of the fact that such 'opening up' of the Link will probably help to kill some co-op agencies altogether, as it one of the most important resources they rely on.

    Well, if this is what is happening, I wish us all the very best of luck with trying to break through the limitations of the current casting system! Maybe some Casting Directors out there will prove amenable to taking us on. Who knows?

    • 6th Jan 2008
    • 1
  • Alan Brent

    Actor

    I have subscribed to it. It has shown me castings I am eligible for but also loads that I am not. So although it costs a little more it gives me an edge that allows me to notify my agent of other jobs she may have missed.

    • 6th Jan 2008
    • 2
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    It still certainly implies on the spotlight website that the interactive subscription with access to castings is for agents only. Has anyone who's joined it had any luck actually getting any auditions through it? At £200 a year it's not exactly cheap if my cv's going to be ignored for those sent through by the big agencies.

    • 6th Jan 2008
    • 3
  • Claire Dodin

    Actor

    I believe that casting directors can chose if they want individual actors to receive their breakdown, or agents, or both.

    I also believe that an actor can receive the breakdown only if he/she is not represented by an agent.

    • 6th Jan 2008
    • 4
  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    Right, okay, well this is starting to clarify details a little for me here...but I remain confused. To sum up what I have so far been able to determine:

    1. Keith was suggesting actors can sign up for the service for *FREE*.

    2. Alan appears to imply that, in fact, it's an additional cost levied on your full subscription (which makes more sense to me - if only because a lot of actors won't be able to afford to take the option up).

    3. Marysia implies it costs somewhere in the region of £200 to subscribe?!

    4. Claire indicates that casting directors (probably) have the option as to whether or not they wish their breakdowns to be seen by individual actors or not (which resolves my question about what casting directors can do to avoid being inundated with undesired details - I assume quite a lot take the option to be highly specific).

    5. Claire seems to suggest that the 'individual' subscription offer is only open to those who are *not* represented - which I suppose prevents duplication of effort (i.e. an actor with an agent also accessing the site on their own behalf, therefore overinundating the site yet more)

    6. Alan implies that using the site is a good adjunct to his agent's work on his behalf, because it allows him to keep track of options the agent may already be pursuing.

    HUH??!

    Does anyone know what the precise details of this deal are? Is it a generally 'new' development? And why is Spotlight not promoting it in any detail?

    • 6th Jan 2008
    • 5
  • Katharine Kavanagh

    Actor

    Well now I'm confused! Everyone seems to have a different idea of what these breakdowns are and how they work!

    Without me doing anything at all, I started receiving breakdowns through spotlight in about October. I have no agent at the moment, and I haven't paid any extra.

    They do, however, seem to be almost exclusively for commercials, where I guess a new face is often a plus point, and I assume that the respective CDs have specified which breakdowns go out to the unwashed masses and which they've kept for agents eyes only. No joy from them yet, but as it's free, I don't think there can be any harm in giving it a go, as I think lee's concerns are unfounded and that the choice of whether breakdowns are open or not still remains with the employers, not spotlight. And with no agent, I don't see any other way of getting access to castings for big brand commercials (like subway, mccains oven chips, special k) - as long as actors use them sensibly and don't put themselves forward inappropriately of course!

    xx

    • 6th Jan 2008
    • 6
  • Kimberley James

    Actor

    confused! so if you do already have an agent you can or cannot " upgrade" and where on the site does it allow you to do it?!I cant seem to find anything.

    • 7th Jan 2008
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  • Amanda Golding

    Actor

    I received an email informing me of the development at the start of the scheme, and it had a link which allowed me to subscribe.

    • 7th Jan 2008
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  • Rebecca Probyn

    Actor

    www.spotlight.com/shop/subscribe/

    here it says it cost £80 for 3 months

    • 7th Jan 2008
    • 9
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    I was sent a test page when they were first setting it up. When I spoke to Spotlight they told me that it was a service for actors who did not have an agent.

    Having completed a number of fake test applications I am now able to see the breakdowns as they are posted. However, most of the roles are skill based and ask for something that is quite unique.

    I did get one casting through it for a Corporate film though. So worth checking out if you don't have an agent.

    I don't pay anything extra for the service.

    • 7th Jan 2008
    • 10
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Hi Beccs! Hope you had a good Festive Season!

    The link you've added is for Casting Professionals only, in order to subscribe to Spotlight Interactive and post breakdowns and search the databases of actors.

    For us ordinary actors it says:

    The Spotlight Link

    As soon as your web page is live, you will also be part of The Spotlight Link, the UK's leading casting information service. An average of 160 casting breakdowns are sent out via The Spotlight Link every week, with an average of 571 roles to be cast (based on 2006 statistics). If you have an agent, they will receive these breakdowns on your behalf and put you forward immediately for relevant roles. If you don't have an agent, you will receive casting information directly by email and can submit your web CV in response if you are suitable.

    So there you go! Mr Brent has Spotlight as his main contact on Spotlight, and his Agent is listed secondary to Spotlight, so I assume that's why he gets the breakdowns!

    Hope this clears things up!

    • 7th Jan 2008
    • 11
  • Rebecca Probyn

    Actor

    ah ok.. :)

    hope you had a good one too lovely x x

    • 7th Jan 2008
    • 12
  • Alan Brent

    Actor

    Thanks for clearing that up, Annie! Just goes to show that 'sometimes' I don't know which is my a**e and which is my elbow!!

    X

    • 7th Jan 2008
    • 13
  • Katharine Kavanagh

    Actor

    Brilliant! Cheers!

    xx

    • 7th Jan 2008
    • 14
  • Keith Chopping

    Actor

    Thanks everyone - yes it is free and here is the link www.spotlight.com/news/spotlightlink.html

    • 7th Jan 2008
    • 15
  • Sheri Copeland

    Actor

    I love the first line of Spotlight's answer to the question:

    "Should I change my Spotlight record to c/o Spotlight instead of my current agent, so that I can get job information myself?"

    which is...

    2. Your agent's job is to be at their desk, waiting for casting breakdowns to arrive and responding to them immediately.

    LOL! Maybe we should all email our agents and tell them what their job is...or maybe not.

    • 7th Jan 2008
    • 16
  • Blake J Askew

    Actor

    Me predicts a load of actors dropping their less than useless agents and doing it alone !! Ha ha!!!

    Its a good service but be aware that the Cds control what castings you get and you are not going to get the tope ones either, or all teh ones agents get, but its a better way of working for many... as many peoples agents are sheer awful... and should be stacking shelves at Tescos instead.

    :)

    • 7th Jan 2008
    • 17
  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    Ok...this makes more sense to me now. Obviously:

    a) you are sent the relevant castings directly if the Spotlight system recognises that you are not represented - whereas, if you are, then the breakdowns are tracked through the agent (unless you are Alan)

    b) the castings that come through to individual actors will have been pre - selected as being for 'all actors'' consumption (as opposed to being for 'all agents only' or even for specific agents only) - this would explain why the majority are for commercial and corporate work, where the casting assumption is always that the net should be cast extremely widely in order to find a face that fits, and where a great deal of prior experience (especially for commercials) is not always necessary. This seems no different to me than the fact that such breakdowns are also regularly sent out to all subscribers to Castnet, PCR etc. - and are even likely to be the same ones. Calling for special skills is also not uncommon (a regular PCR speciality) because the CD must work on the assumption that if they are looking for a 20 stone man of Japanese extraction who can perform capoiera, then they are not likely to be overinudated with offers!

    c) Spotlight have managed to confuse the issue by piloting different versions of the scheme at different times - but are now settled on the idea that all unrepresented agents on the system will get relevant casting breakdowns sent to them as and when as a matter of course. This *is* different, I believe, to the way it works for agents, who are active, rather than passive, receivers of the material - in other words, they are able to access the Link through pass codes when they wish to, and survey all the jobs available in their entirety (just as we do on CCP). This confusion was partly responsible for some of my earlier thoughts, as I assumed what was being offered was the chance for unrepresented actors to become 'active' users of the system - an option which I think the majority of actors would happily take up, and which might run the risk of swamping the system with applications. But with the 'passive' system in place instead, there is much less pressure attendant on CD's to worry about the situation - they will simply continue to send breakdowns out only to those whom they feel are worthy of receiving the offer.

    Given all that, to return to Keith's initial question, it seems like this is a decent minor advance for an actor currently unrepresented who may be able to wangle the odd better paying casting from this service, but that it's unlikely to yield much more. As Blake says, it's a lovely idea that an actor could get rid of a useless agent, and then orchestrate their own career entirely through their own use of the Spotlight Link, but I don't think that's on offer. Spotlight are surely correct to say that, if you have an agent, they will be getting more job offers daily on your behalf than you could possibly get going it alone. So, I wouldn't ditch an agent just yet!

    • 7th Jan 2008
    • 18
  • Nathan Head

    Actor

    that did tempt me for a while back Blake, and i emailed spotlight asking them if i could, and you cant apparently.

    its only if you already had yourself listed as "care of spotlight" before the change over. . gah

    • 7th Jan 2008
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