A Complete Guide to Actors Access
Actors Access is an online membership site that allows actors to submit directly to casting breakdowns posted by casting directors. Breakdown Services which owns and operates Actors Access releases over 43,000 projects per year and has a database of over 1.1 million actors.
Founded by Gary Marsh, Breakdown Services (and its growing family of services) has been a part of the industry and the actor’s life since 1971. Breakdown Services publishes an astonishing 95% of all professional film and TV projects in North America.
Here are 10 quick steps to get started with Actors Access to submit directly for acting jobs, plus PRO TIPS you won’t find in the other “How To” articles to ensure you get the most out of this platform. Let’s Go!
#1 Creating an account
You can create an account for free by going to ActorsAccess.com and clicking the green “Create a Free Account” button. You’ll be able to upload 2 headshots as well as your first SlateShot (we will discuss this below in #7) for free. However, you will pay $2 USD per submission and you will pay to attach your media to submissions (reel) and pay to use ECO Cast (Virtual Auditions).
Since you are looking to do this professionally, you will want to be submitting for as many jobs as you can to make the most out of the incredible access this platform gives actors. So you would be best served by creating and paying for an Actors Access Plus account which gives you unlimited submissions, unlimited ECO Cast auditions, no charge to include your media in submissions and more.
#2 Costs: Your investment in your career
Paying $2 per audition submission, $1 per page of the sides you need to prepare, and being charged for attaching media to submissions and ECO Cast auditions will add up QUICK! That could be $10 for ONE audition!
Professional actors know the benefit of investing in their acting business and choosing to spend $68 USD/year for unlimited submissions, no charge for sides, unlimited ECO Cast auditions, no charge to attach media to your submissions and more is a much smarter use of your money.
Here is the comparison between the two accounts.
#3 What to upload
Now that you have registered your account, you need to upload your materials that will be visible on the platform to casting directors (and agents if you have one and they are connected to Actors Access). You will also use these materials in your submissions.
Here is the main screen to access all your materials and preview your account.
You need to have at least 2 professional headshots that match your type and align with the roles that you can play best right now. They shouldn’t be more than a couple of years old and need to represent you as you look right now. If you change your hair, change your weight, grow or shave a beard, your photos should represent that.
*PRO TIP: Because Actors Access is a digital database no one needs physical photos, which means you should absolutely have multiple photos on the platform. Have a picture for the 7-10 types of characters you play well (and often get called in for). If you can submit a picture and a clip that showcases you as the type of character in the casting breakdown, you have a far better chance of getting an audition than submitting something that is not as specific.
“Actors are not using Actors Access correctly. You need to have multiple headshots, not just a commercial and theatrical shot. Have a headshot for every type of character you can play and submit that! That makes casting’s job far easier and you can book more auditions.” – Wendy Alane Wright, Los Angeles Talent Manager and founder of Hollywood Winner’s Circle
Upload a PDF of your resume so you can attach it to a submission if you need to. But make sure you also completely fill in the online resume and keep your resumes up to date.
The days of sharing your full 90-second reel with 3-5 of your best clips to casting in a submission are gone. Literally NO ONE has time for that. Instead you should upload clips individually (or edit them inside the Actors Access platform) and submit the best clip for an audition. This respects casting’s time and will get your footage seen more often.
*PRO TIP: Just like the headshots, you should upload multiple clips that showcase your best work in different types and characters that match you really well. Casting, Agents, and Managers now agree that even very well done self-tapes can be submitted if they show that you match this role they are casting. It’s far better to submit a headshot and video clip that are absolutely aligned with the role rather than a general look and a clip from your reel that is “dramatic.” Show that you respect their time, you’re trying to solve their problem, and that you get it!
*PRO TIP: Show your special skills! If you can do sign language, sing like a bird, juggle, surf, etc. get a video clip of that up on the platform so you can submit that! You will hands down beat out someone who does not have that footage.
“That should be at my disposal. Give them what they need to help them get you what you want.” – Jason Lockhart, Agent, Head of Film/TV at Atlanta Models & Talent, Inc.
#4 Complete your online resume
It bears repeating that you should take the time to fill in the online version of your resume on Actors Access since this information shows up alongside every submission and is often much faster for casting to see than having to open an uploaded image of your resume. Remember, they could receive THOUSANDS of submissions for EACH ROLE. Respect their time and respect their job. Do everything you can to make their job easier.
#5 Do a SlateShot
You know whether you like someone in the first few seconds you meet them. While your headshot will be the first thing casting sees, it may not give them a sense of your personality and certainly not what you sound like. That’s where a 7-second SlateShot can be a huge advantage.
What is a SlateShot?
- A 7-second video clip that brings your headshot to life.
- Each photo can have it’s own SlateShot, so an actor can match the tone or look of each photo.
- When a headshot is submitted, casting can watch the attached SlateShot.
Here is what casting sees:
*PRO TIP: Because you can have a slate shot for each photo, feel free to showcase your personality and align it with the character you might be portraying in the photo. This is 7 seconds for you to “step in the room.” Don’t just state your name – tell a joke, describe your type, bring the energy of this look to life.
WAIT! Before we move on, it’s important to be aware of HOW submissions are presented to casting directors. With potentially 2,000 or more submissions per role, casting has a big job to look through all of them. Most pros will look at each submission but Actors Access has a default priority to submissions based on what materials are included in that submission. You should know this.
How Submissions Look to Casting:
- Seen first will be submissions that include a SlateShot and video.
- Seen second will be submission with just video.
- Seen third are submissions with just a photo.
*PRO TIP: You can write a note for each submission. Customize it to help pitch WHY you are right for this project, but remember that casting can see the first 45 characters as a preview so MAKE THOSE COUNT! Okay, now that you know how submissions look on the casting side, we can move on to getting much more out of this platform.
#6 What is ECO Cast?
ECO Cast is called a “virtual audition,” but it’s really a self-tape! That means after you (or your agent) submit for an audition, casting can request an ECO Cast and give you a deadline to submit it by and some details for your audition.
You would receive this ECO Cast request through Actors Access and you would upload and submit your video there as well. It’s a helpful streamlined process for self-tapes.
*PRO TIP: Self Tapes are used more now than ever before so you must ensure you practice your self-tapes, improve your equipment and set up and be sure you can easily and reliable shoot a high-quality self-tape no matter where you are. The Self Tape Mastery Group on Facebook has free expert insight, tips and resources to make your self tapes your best auditions.
#7 ECO Cast Live.
Now that almost every single audition is done remotely, Actors Access has expanded the ECO Cast system to include ECO Cast Live which allows casting to hold “virtual auditions” in real-time.
If an actor is selected to audition, they are given an audition time and a link to show up through ECO Cast Live, join a waiting room, mark themselves as ready and then read for their audition. The audition is similar to Zoom or another video call that allows casting to give actors redirects and record the auditions real-time.
If you receive an ECO Cast Live audition you will see the ECO Cast Live button on your profile turn blue. You can then proceed with confirming your audition and scheduling your time.
#8 Manage your email updates
Be sure to allow Cmail email notifications so you’ll never miss your next audition. You will be notified via email when you have an ECO Cast Live audition or other audition requests.
To stay up to date on auditions that match your skills and your profile so you can submit ASAP (it’s always best to submit THE DAY OF THE POSTING), you should allow Cmail to email you with breakdowns that match your profile.
*PRO TIP: If you can legitimately work as a local in more than one region, you can select up to two regions for your Cmail preferences. This will allow you to receive breakdowns that match your profile for LA and New Mexico, as an example.
#9 Use the app
Currently available for iOS platforms, the Actors Access app allows you to receive breakdown notifications that match your profile, submit to auditions, and respond to audition invitations without navigating the website.
#10 Update this platform often
It is crucial that you keep our resume, headshots, reel and clips updated. It can be easy to forget to add an award, update a special skill or class, or include that last self-tape that was great and showed you in a role you don’t have any reel material for. But it is very important to do all of that. These current materials are what allow you to market your acting business with the best tools available. Set yourself up for success.
Some final thoughts:
With literally thousands of submissions for every role, focus on standing out by aligning with the breakdown and solving the problem casting is trying to solve, not trying to get discovered or get on their radar. “It’s not about the actor, it’s about the role.” – Brian Wold, co-founder of Casting About
Create a custom link (PrettyLink, Bitly, etc.) to make a custom link to your ActorsAccess profile that is short, memorable, easy to use in messages, email, postcards and more, AND you can track when and how many people are clicking on it.
Keep practising. Don’t just practice auditioning when you have an audition! Practice reading and memorizing sides. Work on improving your self tapes by practising twice a week even if you have no auditions. Spend time reading for a role over Zoom or a similar platform so you are ready for callbacks or an ECO Cast Live audition. These skills will ensure your next audition is as stress-free as possible giving you a TON of confidence.
Now go get ‘em!
*All images are screenshots taken from actorsaccess.com
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