Is Starnow Worth Paying For?

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StarNow Casting

StarNow has been around for a few years and gets mixed reviews. We take a closer look to see what the site could do for you as an actor or performer.

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What Is StarNow?

StarNow is a Casting Site. Casting directors, student filmmakers, photographers, musicians, festival producers, and many other creatives use the site to advertise jobs and find individuals to work with on specific projects.

StarNow is not a talent agency representing performers or casting director company. Instead, it is an online platform where producers and creators advertise casting breakdowns and registered talent apply for those jobs.

(In the UK, the terms talent agency or acting agency are used for businesses that represent performers, and casting directors are the people in charge of castings/auditions. Never refer to the term casting agency).

StarNow UK

StarNow started life in New Zealand but now has a strong presence in several other countries, including Australia and the UK.

In early 2021, the senior management of New York talent platform Backstage and global growth private equity firm TA Associates acquired StarNow.

StarNow operates globally from the one system, but the good filtering options allow users to concentrate on their own location. As a result, it is one of the well-known and busy casting websites. 

In the UK, you can search StarNow for jobs in London, across all the country or just in the area where you live. You can also set your email preferences to chosen locations too so you only receive notifications about the relevant job adverts.

StarNow Reviews

If you do a search of Google for StarNow reviews, you will find a variety of opinions. Why? Because of the quality of jobs advertised on the site varies.

The UK casting directors generally advertise casting briefs for premium film and TV roles on Spotlight, which has very strict criteria for membership. StarNow does attract well-paid roles, especially for commercials, where specific skills or physical characteristics are needed.

But the site generally attracts student, amateur and microbudget filmmakers and other creatives looking to work with unpaid new and emerging talent. Adverts are frequently looking for people who are happy to invest their time and skill in exchange solely for a showreel or prints.

So the reviews will be mixed because everyone has a different experience depending on the projects and individuals they connect with.

Is StarNow Legit?

Yes. StarNow is a genuine site which really does give you the membership options as clearly stated on the site. It allows you to cancel your paid membership to take effect at the end of the membership option you chose.

And you can use the site for free while you wait for an appropriate job advert.

StarNow is not a scam.

But some of the advertisers aren’t to be trusted. The team at StarNow do their best to check out everyone posting a job advert. Reports of individuals inappropriately targeting children are dealt with swiftly. 

They can’t, however, identify which individuals later won’t complete a student film you’ve spent two weeks working on for free. Or which filmmakers will never even get to the first day’s shoot. Fake agencies are difficult to spot. And for filmmakers, there is the risk that the unpaid actors chosen won’t turn up on set.

Furthermore, remember that in this industry projects, scenes and roles are cut out in almost a continual process. Winning a role is no guarantee you’ll get to do it. When it comes to unpaid projects, the risks go up.

Is StarNow A Trusted Website?

For all the reasons set out above, StarNow is a trusted website. But the onus is on you to proceed with caution when dealing with the people placing the job adverts. Those individuals don’t work for StarNow.

The StarNow Free Profile

If you are finding your feet with your acting career or with StarNow, you can start by setting up a free profile. Anyone can do this because there are no restrictions. Add a photo, your credits and some key points about yourself. Link to your nearest city and then you have an active profile.

You can’t apply for StarNow listed jobs as a free member once your free trial has expired. However, you can link to your free profile if you are contacting other people, perhaps through Facebook groups or when applying for acting agency representation.

If you decide to keep a free profile and not pay a subscription, your profile will not be listed in the Talent Directory. 

The StarNow Talent Directory lists the photographs, names, and locations of paying subscribers. If you’re looking for people to work with who have a specific look or skillset, this can be a good way to find them without creating an advert. 

So if you are a performer who is a subscriber and is present in the Talent Directory, it could give you a visible presence in the local scene. However, the Talent Director search by the ‘nearest city’ rather than ‘region’ means there will be a good chance of being missed.

Also, we haven’t heard of StarNow members receiving unsolicited offers of quality representation or work which were genuine. You should exercise as much caution when replying to unsolicited messages through StarNow as you would through any other site or mailbox.

StarNow Membership

Anyone can become a StarNow Member by paying the subscription fee because there is no restriction in place. That’s great for industry beginners and unrepresented performers who don’t have the agency representation or professional credits to get accepted on Spotlight, for example.

If you are represented by an agency, check they are happy for you to find your own sources of work. Some agencies charge their commission even for any work you obtain for yourself independently. Others stipulate in the terms and conditions of their contract that no one may take out casting site subscriptions without the agency’s consent.

Different rates are offered according to the length of the StarNow subscription period. Or you can stick with the free profile while you wait for the right job advert. Choose what is right for you.

This quick Starnow video shows you some of the audio and video showcasing options available to paid subscribers. Press the white arrow in the centre for the video to play.

Starnow Giveaways

Starnow runs competitions at periodic times through the year. Sometimes it’s a lucky dip, other times there’s a talent or voting system to award the prize.

StarNow – Cancel Membership

Everyone we know who has used StarNow reports that the price they paid was the same one listed on the site. In addition, the site appears to be very good at cancelling membership subscriptions when asked. It’s an automatic online process.

For those who take out one monthly membership only when specific adverts appear, this is a useful point to note.

Is It Worth Paying The StarNow Subscription?

Whether you choose to upgrade to full membership status will depend on your current situation, location and advertised jobs. It is cheaper to pay once for a six months membership rather than six times for one-month membership. However, if you apply for one job and don’t apply for anything for the following five months, then it isn’t worth paying for a six-month membership.

In the UK, if you live near London you will find many more opportunities. The majority of paid work is happening in the South East with very little offered elsewhere. Whilst unpaid projects are happening all over the country, there only seem to be little pockets of the country which are frequently used by the student and amateur filmmaker communities.

You also have to consider the quality of the jobs offered. Sometimes people truly believe they are the next Steven Spielberg and list roles for projects which are never going to happen because the creator has deluded themselves about what they can achieve. Most of the roles are offered without payment because the advertiser is a student or amateur filmmaker.

Unpaid Roles

Occasionally a household name production company advertises an unpaid role. Or a well-known charity or band requires unpaid actors. This is bad for the industry as a whole. Professional actors are having a tough time finding jobs and cannot do the work for free. They have to pay their rent. It doesn’t do much for StarNow’s reputation either.

It doesn’t help that StarNow has a box asking advertisers to declare that they work within the national minimum wage when most advertisers blatantly aren’t offering any such arrangement.

But if you set up the daily email notifications of new job listings, you will find occasional gems. You might find your first unpaid speaking role in a microbudget short film, and get some showreel out of it. Or you might get a paid day on set as an extra, which you could have applied for by other means (such as via an extras agency) but StarNow is a good way to find out about it. You could even earn a nice paycheck after doing a TV commercial.

Parents Must Exercise Caution

As a parent, exercise caution about the people you are contacting or receive contact from. StarNow says they check the identity of the people listing the job, but there is a limit to these checks. A DBS certificate check and review interview aren’t going to be happening any time soon.

Casting notices rarely refer to child performance licences. These are almost always compulsory for paid and unpaid child performers in the UK even though many filmmakers don’t understand this.

When your child attends a casting, make sure they are with you at all times. The only exception is if you are attending a casting with a known casting director, and in premises which are legitimate casting venues. At least two adults should be in the room with your child at all times. This is for the protection of your child and the casting staff.

Talk to your child about leaving the room immediately if anything happens that makes them uncomfortable.

The StarNow Talent Directory

The Talent Directory shows the paid membership subscribers of StarNow according to the profile settings you choose (gender, location, skills etc).

StarNow is marketing a ‘following’ process as a way to network. Previously, ‘follow’ was a shortcut to the profiles of people you knew or wanted to work with. But the number of follows now counts towards your position in the Talent Directory.

There are a number of things that affect your position in the Talent Directory; the number of photos, video links, followers, castings, recommendations, and jobs applied for.

This has traditionally led to people putting on huge numbers of photos. These take ages to load and don’t enhance the profile. This is also true for some of the showreels.

Now the followers and recommendations affect the Talent Directory places, some actors are following thousands of others in the hope of being followed back. Who can blame them?

It used to be the case that you could recommend someone without meeting or working with them, in the hope they would reciprocate the favour. It improved ranking in the Talent Directory. Thankfully, StarNow made changes in 2018 which restricts who can make recommendations.

If you are a purist, you will say that StarNow has created a system which detracts from the really important skills and experience that should be at the core of the StarNow profile. If you are a realist, you start following as many people as you can in the hope some will return the favour.

At the end of the day, it depends on how much you value your position in the Talent Directory. There are plenty of profiles sitting in the Talent Directory which don’t even have a headshot displayed. Perhaps everyone should get back to worrying about finding the next job.

StarNow Audition Finder App

StarNow has created a free app for Apple’s App Store, although membership charges still apply on the same basis as the website. It’s called StarNow Audition Finder.

Unfortunately, it isn’t currently available for Android users. And please note, the Star Now app on Google Play has nothing to do with the StarNow casting platform.

So Is StarNow Worth It?

You have nothing to lose – other than time – by creating a free profile. Sign up for the free emails listing the latest jobs advertised. If you see an interesting opportunity, subscribe for a month and apply.

You certainly won’t find a high profile Spotlight job sitting there; but you can earn your first credits and showreel, form a network and assess whether the acting industry is really for you.

This Page Is Not Sponsored depends entirely on advert clicks to cover the costs of staying online. We haven’t received sponsorship or any other benefit from the businesses and resources mentioned on this site. 

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Further Reading

If you’re trying to break into the acting industry, take a look at the list of articles we’ve published about acting and extra work.

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