Marketing and the Internet: maintaining your online presence

Where do you go when you want to find something? To the Internet. Casting directors do the same.

Today, casting happens quickly and initially online: casting directors post their breakdowns on search engines, such as Spotlight, and agents submit actor suggestions electronically. As a casting director, I receive hundreds of submissions in the first hour after a breakdown is posted. Only moments after an actor auditions, I pop the clip on a site that shares it with production. Any actor in these times must have an Internet presence 24/7, so that casters anywhere anytime have the information about you. […]

Casting sites and search engines

The most ubiquitous entertainment website is the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com). Serious actors exploit all of the possibilities that it offers. Once you have professional film or TV credits, join its professional sister site, IMDb Pro, which allows you to insert contact details so that professionals can find you, and you can find them.

Keeping your material updated on IMDb is also essential; you can do it yourself. Although it costs, posting your headshot on IMDb is a solid investment. A director may see an actor in a film, but not know the name of the role he played. With your photo posted, there’s no doubt.

In the UK, Spotlight membership is essential, as it is the first and last website that many casting directors use. My pet peeve, when using Spotlight, is when actors don’t include a showreel. By all means, use all of the options available to you: CV, reel, photo gallery, voice clips. If I don’t know your work, I will most definitely want to see tape on you.

A website

A website, properly designed, is a worthwhile investment. The actor search engines are necessary, but not enough; there are directors who are looking outside the box. A website enables you to brand and market yourself uniquely because you can control the content and presentation. Make sure that your pages are designed to market you strategically as a professional actor, not as a vanity site. The central questions in a marketing campaign are:

What do you do? You’re a professional actor. Don’t confuse your viewers with too many images or superfluous interests. If you are expert in something that enhances your acting, such as singing, horse-back riding, or dance, then devote some space to it. But make sure it’s not too prominent or it will look like you’re a singer who acts, rather than an actor who sings.

Who are your customers? They are casting directors, producers, directors. Figure out what information they would need to cast you. Ensure your site’s usability for all customers by testing it on different systems and browsers like Mac and PC, Firefox and Outlook.

Why should they buy from you? This is a good question. Why should they cast you? What are you selling? Since YOU are the product, identify your image and the range of roles that you play. Through your own personal style you will reflect, on the site, what you have to offer, how you look, what your experience is, how you’ve trained. [...]

Be Google-able and YouTube-able

If you are not already famous, no one will know to Google your name. So how will casting directors find you? If you’re shopping on the Internet for roses in Prague, what do you Google? ‘Roses, Prague.’ If I’m looking for an actor who can juggle, what will I type in? ‘Actor, juggler.’

Google needs text and key words in order to index and find your site. Think about your specific skills and what makes you unique. Use these as keywords that link to other pages on your webpage. Keep the important keywords towards the top of the page; this will help casters find you. If you have a special marketing point, you can even name your website accordingly – for example, www.kenchu.karateactor.com or www.kiwi-actor-in-london.com.

Name your video clips specifically as well, such as ‘Ken Chu, Karate fight’ and load it onto YouTube. I love it when I can type an actor’s name into YouTube and immediately a showreel or clip surfaces. I can then paste the link into an email and send it as a suggestion to a director.

The Internet has changed the way casting happens. It allows casting directors to sweep the far corners of the earth for talent at the click of a button. I recently cast a film with actors from four different countries, and never left my office to do it. The director was in South Africa, and interviewed actors on Skype, as the budget didn’t allow him to meet them in person.

Maintain an online presence and be ready to put your audition on tape and upload it for us to view. Don’t be a technophobe and throw away the many wonderful possibilities that the Internet offers.

From Actors' Yearbook 2013, Methuen Drama (Bloomsbury)