How to thoroughly research production companies, directors, etc. before applying for a job
When researching a production company, you need to be specific about what you are researching for. Is it researching to check that they are legitimate, or is it to see what type of work they have been involved with, or is it to check that they are financially sound, or is it research to find a good production company that offer work in areas of acting that you prefer?
The first step would be to check their website for a number of aspects, i.e. credits (are they high profile productions or are they short films with low budget), logos on the website that show that they comply with certain regulations or are a member of a professional arts and entertainment body, and the structure and style of the website i.e. does it look professional and do all the links work properly and does it state when it was last updated. Websites that haven't been updated for a long time (e.g. a year) is not a good sign. The production company will sometimes state what future projects they are working on. Try typing the name of their upcoming productions in Google and you will see how high profile it is.
However, research on a production company should not solely be relied on the website. Usually the website will contain details of the members of the production company, try typing these names in Google and check their credits i.e. do these names actually exist? If they are listed on various professional bodies in the industry, then they are usually very reliable. If you can't find the person online and the only details relating to that name is nothing to do with the industry, this does not necessarily mean that this person doesn't exist or that they are not legitimate. It may mean that the person is new to the industry and so has not got much of an online profile. Usually, you could see someone's professional status by typing their name on facebook without having to send a friend request.
You can also check the popularity of the companies productions by typing it in IMDB. Then you can look at who was involved in the production such as casting directors and actors and then check their level of profile. This will say a lot about the production company.
You should be able to find out what other companies a production company has worked with from the credits. Then you could check the profile of these companies (using the above method). Other research methods include liaising with other actors who have worked with the production company.
It may be worth while checking the financial soundness of a production company. The reason is because if they are about to go bankrupt, you might not get fully paid or paid at all. You can do this by typing in Google "free company check" or "free financial check". However, this does not usually work for small production companies.
If you are wanting to find a production companies that operates in the field of acting that you prefer, then look for the name of the production company in the credits at the end of the film, then check online to see what other productions they have worked on. You may notice that they work on similar productions which is more of your area e.g. soaps, sitcoms, horror films, documentaries etc etc).