No one who regularly reads this column doubts my love for the actor resource called CastingAbout. When I wrote about my brilliant (no, really, go back and read it — it’s brilliant) method for tracking pilots using a point system to determine whether there would be a greater chance any particular show would be given more time on the air to find its audience (BEFORE upfronts gave us any indication), I received a reply from co-founder of CastingAbout, Blair Hickey.

Here’s some of what he said then:

Thanks for your article and advice on handicapping the shows for the new season. (Your system is great!) Nice to find out there are others out there as “geeky” as I am; people who actually have fun attacking The Business with charts, graphs, and flow charts.

As an actor, I enjoy this kind of research so much I helped start a business that does this kind of work every day. (I hope you don’t mind, but I had to write to tell you about it because we have a research staff whose job is to do the exact work you talked about in the article!)

The company is CastingAbout.com, and in a nutshell, we track every TV show that casts in LA; its production status as of this morning; the casting office address; and the name of every assistant, associate, and CD in that office. We put it all on one easy to use grid (searchable and sortable) and — best part — actors can check off as many of the names as they want, hit “print” and get instant mailing labels from their own printer.

We update the data every day; so for pilots, for example (most of which are now listed as “wrapped”), the day a pick-up is announced we’ll switch its status to “ordered series,” get on the phone to the production company and find out who’s casting. The day the casting office actually opens, we switch the status to “casting.”

That was in 2006, when CastingAbout was just two years old. Since then, CastingAbout branched out to include TV series in New York and stage plays in both NY and LA, Breakdown Services brilliantly acquired CastingAbout in 2008, and CastingAbout further expanded to cover feature films shooting worldwide — as long as the primary casting offices are in NY or LA. All this awesomeosity for the crazy-affordable price of $39.95 per year per market.

What now? Well, as you probably figured out just from reading the title of this week’s column: COMMERCIALS. Yup. And when CastingAbout co-founder Brian Wold contacted me with a scoop about this soon-to-come development, I felt like Nikki Freakin’ Finke. So excited to get to share this latest bit of badassery with y’all, I asked the guys to hit me up with some of the nitty-gritty details. Here goes!

From Blair: “This is easily one of our most-requested features. Actors and talent reps have come to trust and rely on the information we post for film, TV, and theatre offices, and lately there’s been a growing demand for us to cover the commercial world as well.”

From Brian: “Since commercial projects work and move a bit differently than theatrical ones, we took the time to figure out the best way to integrate that world into our current site, while still delivering the most useful, accurate, and up-to-date information possible. We could not be more excited about the launch!”

So, this is pretty dang awesome, and I’ve done some poking around. Obviously due to the nature of commercial casting and its speed, individual commercials are not listed at CastingAbout, but the word COMMERCIALS appears alongside any casting office that actively casts ads. Cool!

For the truly ninja, I always suggest going through the commercial casting directors’ websites, sites like iSpot.tv, lists of Clio and commercial Emmy nominations to find out for which agencies they tend to cast and for which brands they tend to populate ads. Remember, people are loyal in this business, and if a particular ad agency loves going to a specific casting director for their services, you can hedge your bets and be right more often than wrong that the same casting company will get the next gig coming up for that big brand from that same agency. ๐Ÿ˜‰

While there’s lots o’ info out there, something I really love about CastingAbout is how on top of accuracy they are, in their listings. Their team is on the phone with casting offices in New York and Los Angeles daily. There’s no “oh, that’s how it looks at IMDb-Pro, so we’ll assume that’s true,” going on. The team at CastingAbout is verifying — first hand — every detail about the office including mailing address, logline for projects, union status, personnel in the office, and so on. This is important stuff.

Back to Brian: “Nothing compares to CastingAbout as a snapshot of the casting industry. It’s an incredibly powerful marketing tool. Over time, having pros in the biz that know you and trust you to do the job results in more auditions. It also takes some of the pressure off the auditions themselves. But many actors are so focused on just getting auditions that they miss the larger picture, which is that fostering relationships is crucial. It takes time and good information about who’s doing what in this town. For the pro actors out there who study casting directors and their work, who track the careers of CDs they’ve worked with in the past — those who really understand the power of building relationships — this service, frankly, is essential.”

Now, of course, Brian is biased. I am not. I recommend all sorts of tools that I find essential to the targeting and relationship-building process actors must explore and CastingAbout is at the top of that list not because Blair and Brian are awesome (they are) but because the care with which they put together, maintain, and deliver this information is unparalleled. They know their audience (Blair is a working actor and CastingAbout evolved from his Show Bible, so to speak). They know the population they’re featuring at the site. And they know the benefits of functionality. (Hello! You can store your personal notes about any of the casting professionals right there in the website, visible only to you!)

So… with the addition of commercials to an already rockstar roundup of casting information on film, TV, and stage in the two largest markets, how much are we talkin’, per year? Oh, still just $39.95 per market. Yup. Amazing. A dime a day. ZERO question, this is an essential tool for actors. ‘Nuff said. Congrats, guys! Here’s to the next amazing addition, and the next, and the next! ๐Ÿ™‚


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!


Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001675.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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