Whether you have an agent or not, you will need to join casting websites to find acting work. We take a look at the most popular UK sites.
For many years, the printed Spotlight directories were THE place to find the UK’s acting talent. The number of available actors was so small two directories the size of a hardback book could be flicked through quickly. A black and white photo with basic information told casting directors which agent to contact when someone looked interesting for the available role.
Today, there are tens of thousands of people working as actors or hoping to do so. The annual Spotlight directories fill bookshelves, even though the entrance requirements to be accepted are some of the toughest in the industry.
But Spotlight has worked hard to keep up with the modern age, by adding all subscribers to its casting website. It also has a wide range of invaluable articles and video links, as well as regular training events. These all help actors take the right practical steps to help them get into the audition room.
They take child protection seriously; only casting directors can view the profiles of child actors unless parents choose to share the link. Copies of the child performers directories are tightly controlled and difficult to access.
Agents like their clients to subscribe to Spotlight. The actors must provide headshots, showreel, and the annual subscription payment.
Between 2015 and 2017 the famous Mandy site merged with the different Blue Compass sites run for specific types of performers. The new Mandy.com platform was launched, with a number of skill-specific sites.
All jobs listed on the site must be for paid work. For actors and child actors, the work advertised includes commercials, corporate and short films, TV, films, and theatre.
The site also encourages support and interaction between performers through the forums.
Starnow is a useful site for those with no experience, especially as the subscription rates are lower than most other sites.
There are a number of paid jobs, calls for reality TV participants, lots of listings for unpaid roles in student and microbudget films, beauty pageant listings and open book calls from agents.
The UK subsidiary of a popular and well established US casting website, Casting Networks offers a nice profile interface for performers and streamlined online process for casting directors.
The complicated pricing structure has now been simplified. Those who do not join via an agent pay £10 to set up a profile; via an agent, it is free to join. You now get everything else included in one subscription fee, which you can pay monthly or (more cheaply) once a year. The rates are competitive.
Once you have subscribed to CastWeb you should receive at least 2 emails a day with details of theatre, film and commercial roles.
Launched back in 1998, Shooting People has outlived many of its competitors. The annual subscription is much better value than the monthly rates.
To Be Seen
Offering a range of paid and unpaid roles, To Be Seen gives actors living outside London a way to find opportunities in their area.
If you are interested in theatre work, try the two week free trial of Dramanic before deciding which of the four packages to choose from.
So Which Casting Websites Should You Join?
Spotlight is the most important of the casting websites if you want to get access to the best-advertised jobs in the industry. However, Spotlight does not accept all applicants. The other sites we have listed here should give you enough opportunities to keep you busy.
The biggest issue of which casting websites to subscribe to comes down to cost. In all other industries, the employer pays the recruitment agent and the employee applies for free. In the acting world, where a living wage is genuinely hard to achieve, it’s the hard-up actors who have to pay to apply. And that’s on top of the headshots, showreel, audition outfits, expensive train fares, lack of regular employment to allow last minute castings (are there any that aren’t?) etc. So there’s little money and a lot of potential sources of work which each cost money to join. Perhaps you can only afford to join one; some people join all of them.
A good strategy would be to sign up for a free trial. You can then assess the type of work being advertised, and see if you land any jobs. You could then decide to subscribe to the cheaper annual rates. Or if the site allows it, just keep a free profile; then pay a month’s subscription when an interesting job comes up that you want to apply for.