To Pay Or Not To Pay?
Well, it depends.
A friend recently asked me about a casting website for voiceovers in England. I didn’t have any real feedback for her regarding that particular site but it made me think about the casting venues that I do know and that I use here in the US on a daily basis.
First off, let me dispel some myths…
Casting websites are liable and responsible for getting me work.
Just because a website promises to book you work and put money in your pocket it doesn’t guarantee anything. At best it will fill your email box with lists of the many auditions currently happening in the city and offer you a chance to submit yourself. In some cases, for those of us who are currently without representation, it can get our foot in a door that may have previously been closed. For example: perhaps an ad agency has exhausted its resources with agents and Casting Directors’s and is looking for new talent beyond the pool they’ve already tapped. Actors Access and other such sites are a goldmine for them. But, as far as booking work and making money goes, casting websites have ZERO control or influence.
You don’t need an agent to find work.
Don’t depend on these sites as your sole casting/booking resource. If you are lucky enough to book jobs through one or more of these sites it can be a good supplement to your income but you have to be diligent and “on it” when it comes to submissions because castings happen so quickly that if you sleep on it you’re likely to miss out. And, the reality is, you will eventually need an agent. There’s no way around it. That being said, don’t ever not submit yourself to something because the breakdown is a day or two old. If it is a perfect role for you and you have a free schedule around their listed shoot/show dates go ahead and send out for it. It might be worth the risk – and as far as risks go, it’s a pretty low one.
You shouldn’t have to pay for it.
Most of these sites ask you to pay them. For some sites it is a marginal fee, for others it’s a pretty hefty one. Actors Access has free registration but paid submissions. NYCastings is free, but it doesn’t have a personal filter system to help you narrow down the jobs specifically to you. Backstage is free to register, but to use their system to submit to a job you have to pay a yearly fee. Maintaining and updating a website with the features that any one of the aforementioned ones have takes a lot of work. So, there are a lot of people that need to be paid. Our small membership fees and submission costs help to ensure the highest of quality and ease of use. And it’s good for the economy!
Should you pay for a casting service?
The answer is, if you’re serious about finding work on your own, yes. You have to pay.
Sign up for Actor’s Access, Casting Networks, and, if you’re into theater, Backstage. For any others, I would do some SERIOUS research before using or paying for any site/service. Ask your actor friends what they use, how it’s worked for them, etc. And be VERY selective about who you give your credit card info out to. Especially online.