To have spotlight or not?

  • Sarah Spencer

    Actor

    Hello, im in a bit of a pickle just now and wandered if i could get some advice and support.

    Ive just left my full time job cause i couldnt make a casting in London back in December which cut me up. My agent called me at 12p.m for the casting audition to happen at 2:30p.m that same day. Now i dont know anyone regardless if they live in London or not, could have made this appointment. I was gutted i coudn't attend (not that i would have got the job as it was for MTV, i dont know what they do acting wise, im not a model, nor presenter...but hey ho)so i quit my job to free myself if this was to happen again.

    So firstly is this normal? anything ive read by other professionals have had a days notice?

    Todays problem is one which is financial- i cant afford spotlight! So do i have it or not?

    Ive had spotlight since 2008 and had ONE audition. As a business i cant help looking at spotlight as an unnessecary cost as it has not once paid for itself. So my questions are how long do i keep going with spotlight? do i just accept its an expensive tool that lets people know who i am if they ever want to know? Or do i not renew this year until i have the funds to pay for it, prob loose my agent who has never been able to get me work? Eeek! i feel so confused about it all and disheartened by the fact that if i have no spotlight i might be branded as not a real actress!

    Has anyone else been in this situation?

    Thanks in advance if you have the time to reply.

    • 22nd Mar 2012
    • 6035
    • 13
  • David Hopper

    Actor

    Spotlight is deffinaly a must. It is were everything is cast and where casting directors go to luck for clients or actors. Your agent should be putting you up for stuff on spotlight all the time. You quite clearly have a type as them to show you what you have been put up for.

    Keep your spotlight cut down on something else.

    • 19th Mar 2012
    • 1
  • Elinor Evans

    Actor

    My Spotlight has just come up for renewal, but i've been thinking twice about doing it! In the time that i've had it i've not had any castings sent to me (it says in the recent letters i've had from them that 'casting notices are emailed to you every hour'). Does this mean that i've not been using it properly? Or that i've just not been suitable for any castings in the last year?

    I see where you're coming from in terms of affording it, i'm struggling to find it's worth...

    Best wishes,

    Elinor.

    • 19th Mar 2012
    • 2
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Hi, I have only twice (in 16 years) been given only a few hours notice to go to audition so my experience says it is not usual but can happen

    Spotlight is an absolute must. No decent agent would take you on if you are not on there as that is how they do the majority of their submissions

    My agent (who I have been with for a long time and I completely trust) has only been asked to send postal submissions once in the past four or five years, everything is done on Spotlight

    I know it seems expensive but you can offset it against tax, the important thing then is to make sure you are getting the maximum out of it. Have a selection of photos, a voice reel and a show reel and keep your inforamation up to date. As a member you can see all the castings that are posted, you can then contact your agent and make sure they are putting you up for jobs that you think you should be up for

    Apart from commercials it is rare to find major theatre and production companies casting anywhere other than Spotlight (although of course it does happen)and often you won't be aware that casting directors have accessed your showreel through spotlight, they won't necessarily tell you or your agent they will just call you in for a casting

    Keep fighting the fight, and good luck

    Cally x

    • 19th Mar 2012
    • 3
  • Magdalene Mills

    Actor

    No one can tell you what to do, you have to make the decision that is best for you and your current situation.

    I, was out of the business for two years! And started my come back with CCP. You can get back on to spotlight at anytime. You might just miss out on being in the book. It's hard but if you spend your time grafting and putting in work. You'll have stuff to update your your spotlight with.

    I just heard Mark Summers talking about how he uses Castweb etc. spotlight is the Oldest but there are more new ones with the same info do you can still put yourself up for jobs.

    Everybody has done it this way, why don't your find a way that's best for you, it just might be without spotlight. Goodluck.

    x

    • 19th Mar 2012
    • 4
  • David Hopper

    Actor

    New ones don't have all the casting spotlight does. It is the industry's main tool. Casting directors will have spotlight open all day long I very much doubt if any will be looking at other websites. I would stick with spotlight

    • 19th Mar 2012
    • 5
  • David Hopper

    Actor

    New ones don't have all the casting spotlight does. It is the industry's main tool. Casting directors will have spotlight open all day long I very much doubt if any will be looking at other websites. I would stick with spotlight

    • 19th Mar 2012
    • 6
  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    I was actually less interested in the Spotlight related aspect of this question (which seems to have been well covered above) as by the issues surrounding the late notice for the audition.

    It is, of course, entirely reasonable that you were unable to attend an audition at such ridiculously short notice. Unfortunately, it is more and more often the case that commercials casters, in particular, who are often operating a sort of 'cattle call' policy in respect to casting, are prepared to release offers of audition ridiculously late in the day in the expectation that odds are good that there will be a degree of takeup and a degree of unavailability. As they tend to be casting the net wide, and are not looking to intially define actor specifics (you say yourself you don't think you were especially suited to this brief), this is not really an issue (whereas if your casting type was very specifically required they would be much more concerned to secure your personal attendance, and broker compromises on your behalf).

    Nor is it always the responsibility of anyone at our end of the chain that such calls come in late. Your agent is only able to pass on the message once the casting directors have made contact, and the casting directors often don't move till the advertising agencies and production companies have got back to them. As the advertising agencies and production companies often just work on the basis that the casting directors are good enough to get a certain amount of actors to audition, and trust them to source actors who will 'work', they don't prioritise the issue of whether or not everyone is being given great amounts of notice or otherwise. So, your audition situation just has to be chalked up to experience, sadly. Poor amounts of notice are increasingly the rule for commercials etc. - though it is often not as little turnaround as being called same day. Still, I have been to same day auditions myself. Part of the problem is just the knowledge that there are, at any given time, a mass of actors who can be made available for any project. Add this to the fact that a non-specific brief ensures that not even the casters really know what they are hoping to see from actors, and what results is short notice auditions. The attitude is always that someone suitable will be able to turn up - and this is, I am sure, frequently true.

    At a different level, of course, if there is any issue with your agent over the fact that you couldn't attend, that's a different problem. A good agent should actually have your back in this situation and be angry on your behalf that the call given was at such short notice (after all, there is no reasonable way you could have attended it). As I said, it shouldn't be assumed that your agent didn't tell you the information swiftly either: they may well have got back to you almost as soon as the offer was put to them. If the issue is that your agent is generally failing to generate any auditions for you that are satisfactory, that's another problem, and you really need to take this up with/think about changing agents.

    From the work point of view, you should not be worrying either. The lead time given for your attendance here is ridiculously short, and, if you are engaged to do *anything* for a day (be that a support job, holding a meeting, seeing family, decorating, driving somebody somewhere, seeing an old friend or whatever it might possibly be), then to be asked if you can drop everything and be somewhere in the afternoon is nonsense. A sympathetic agent will accept this on your behalf and blame the casters for short-sightedness, not you for being unable to attend. Although it's cruel to hear, it has to be accepted, in this case, that the casters are not that bothered whether you manage to turn up to be seen or not - they are just throwing an offer out in the hope you might bite (otherwise, trust me, they would be making things easier for you). It's a pity when you miss a chance through circumstance, but it happens and you shouldn't jeopardise a solid job that is helping you survive for the sake of last minute audition calls. Again, the better jobs that are more likely to be genuine opportunities for you will also tend to give you more notice. It may not be a lot more notice - and that is why you genuinely do need a flexible job - the sort of job where you can take a day off at short notice if you need to, swap shifts, have half days or work flexi hours or whatever - but being flexible is not the same thing as expecting you can have a job where you can literally call off a day's work during the course of the day you are supposed to be working!! That's just ridiculous, and you shouldn't be giving it too much concern.

    One benefit of trying to solicit your own auditions via sites like this is that you can also try and work out when you can be available in advance or negotiate dates with interested parties via personal correspondence and so on. But I hope that your next unsolicited audition turns out to be much more convienient for you to attend!!

    • 19th Mar 2012
    • 7
  • Forbes KB

    Actor

    Without Spotlight you are invisible! Annoying, but that's the reality of the situation in the UK right now!

    Newcomers such as Casting Networks Inc. and The Page and coming up but they are at least a few years away from taking over Spotlights dominance!

    • 20th Mar 2012
    • 8
  • Georgia Goodman

    Actor

    I'm sorry you felt that you needed to leave your job because of losing out on an audition. I can only offer my own quite similar experience but as another member said, you will have to make the best decision for you.

    Last minute auditions do happen. I had a call for an audition that was about 90 mins away. Luckily, I was on an acting course and got permission to leave at the last minute but I was SO definitely not dressed to go to an audition (read sweaty, smelly, in jogging pants!). I didn't even know what the audition was for, just that Spotlight had called me with the audition details. I didn't have an agent at the time so I was c/o Spotlight (which answers your other question about how useful it is to be on there). The audition was for a US feature which I eventually got.

    As an actor you always have to be ready. I definitely wasn't dressed the part but I have a few basics in my bag that allow me to make myself as presentable as possible.

    If it weren't for me being on Spotlight, I would have never gotten the call. Spotlight is a MUST, all casting directors I have met use it constantly.

    Yes, it is an expense when you're not reaping the benefits. Believe me, I know; I'm lucky if I get one audition a month!

    Spotlight have expanded their services to make it easier for actors. Do you check Spotlight Link constantly? Spotlight Link lists castings that casting directors have decided to open up to all. Most often however, they will mainly choose to send casting notices to agents, and too often only to the agents they want to work with. So sometimes it doesn't even make a difference if you are with an agent, if it isn't one that CDs go to.

    You also need to use Equity. Again, they have their own service online which does list a few jobs.

    As for losing out on that audition before, well, as you said, it was for MTV so you probably wouldn't have gotten it anyway so don't be so hard on yourself. Quitting your job might have been a bit drastic - not a judgement on my part! I have a full time job which allows me to pay for the classes, pictures, theatre that I go to in order to stay as much within the industry as I can. It also allows me to have money to be able to say yes to fringe profit share plays. And when I do get a call for an audition, I can take a sick leave or just take a holiday, while still being paid for that day off. As I mentioned above, I'm lucky if I get one call a month so I had to take a long hard look at the reality of being cast in "bread & butter" roles that would allow me to call myself a full time actress and the answer was that it was better to be in a full time job than waiting for that possible call. So far, I have not regretted this decision as I've never missed out on an audition or work. However as I said, this is just my particular circumstance. You have an agent who is obviously putting you up for stuff and because of this, you cannot NOT be on Spotlight for that simple fact - your agent sends your Spotlight profile directly to CDs.

    I don't know if any of this helped or it was just me rattling on. I'm sure you'll find the right balance for your circumstances. Best of luck.

    • 20th Mar 2012
    • 9
  • Julia Sandiford

    Actor

    Think Cally summed it up perfectly!

    You won't be taken seriously as an actor if you're not on Spotlight. I don't ever really find jobs myself on Spotlight, but CDs are using it all day and it's a tool where they can see all your stuff in one place and where you can be found/how you can be put up for work. I think it's really a given!

    Sad about the short notice casting (I've only been asked to go on the day once in 7 years and it was the only one I refused to go to and my agent completely understood). I think if they are casting within such a short time frame they are also casting the net wide and know they'll get someone, rather than caring it's spefically a brilliant you... if that makes any sense!

    I wouldn't worry about that one and instead invest heart/energy in auditions which have been more carefully put together.

    Good luck... Julia x

    • 20th Mar 2012
    • 10
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Unfortunately that is the nature of the acting industry. You had 2.5 hours notice which is enough to time to get anywhere in London. It happens all the time so if you are serious about performing you need to get used to it. That is why you cannot have another day job!

    • 20th Mar 2012
    • 11
  • Peter Halpin

    Actor

    Last minute castings like that are pretty rare in my experience. I've had a few and even a job or two that were very late notice, but I am in the fortunate position to not do anything else but work in this business, so the only reason I'd not be available is if I'm already on a job!

    So as long as you can find a flexible job where you're known to be an actor that may need to zip out at short notice, you'll be fine. Like the acting jobs, they're out there, you've just got to look in the right places at the right times!

    Spotlight, as all others have voiced, is essential. The question as to wether to join or not is a rhetorical one. The amount of money it costs is a tiny amount compared to its worth.

    • 20th Mar 2012
    • 12
  • James Sutherland

    Actor

    In my 17 years as a professional actor, I've never had 2.5 hours notice to make a casting, and I'm sure as others have said, it's a pretty rare thing!

    Speaking of Spotlight, it's an absolute 'no-brainer'. OK, perhaps a slight exaggeration, but you might as well try driving a car without a steering wheel!

    Good luck!

    • 22nd Mar 2012
    • 13