"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How to Use Actors Access Effectively Part 3

Part 1 and Part 2 have been making the rounds (and if you haven't read them, you should!) and have even caught the attention of Breakdown Services themselves.

Jenna Pass, the Director of Media Communications, wanted me to contact her immediately, so I did.

"...am I in trouble...?" I wrote her.

Not at all! She was so impressed (::blush::) with my basic Actors Access actor tutorial, that she wanted to give me a tour of the company! Although I was pretty sure it would just be a five minute tour of cubicles and computers, I was wrong.

There is a TON of things that Breakdowns does to make sure that YOU are seen and acting. About 100 people make up Breakdowns, and they want YOU to book work.

I have not been paid or compensated by Breakdown Services, Actors Access, or their affiliates. This is just good stuff to know!

So, on with the show!

Created in 2003, there are 380,000 subscribers on Actors Access, 180,000 in California alone. That's a lot of people, no? They all use the site to submit themselves and book work. You can use it if you're in San Francisco, Hawaii, Florida, Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago, even Colorado and Utah (no one might be putting casting notices up there, but if they are, you can submit if you're in that market!) In fact, 95% of all television and film are cast through Breakdowns and Actors Access. 

With all these actors trying to get seen and trying to get auditions, the good people working at Breakdowns and Actors Access have come up with a variety of things to get the hard working and hard researching Struggling actors and actresses the upper hand. You seriously want to get in on Kabookit, Casting About, @ActorsAccess and Reels.

Brian Shook at Actors Access wants to help spread the word when you are part of that booking 95%. He's in charge of KaBookIt (a "play" on Kabuki [see what I did there? double en"pun"dre!" Ah! I'm STILL PUNNING!]).  KaBookIt has been running for a few weeks, and was first introduced to the regional agencies but is slowly gaining momentum in the major markets. Basically, your agent submits your recent booking to KaBookIt with the name of the show, the role, and who cast you, and KaBookIt creates an entry proclaiming it with your name hyperlinked to your Breakdowns profile.

Yeah, big deal, you say. So what?

Well, they email that list to casting directors! And when CDs read the list and you're Kabooking stuff, they see your name. Keep Kabooking, they see your name again. In the near future, when they're casting something, and they come across your name, Kapow! They might just bring you in due to the name recognition. Cool, right!?

Casting About
Then there's Casting About. Now, I have seen a few memos here and there on AA from them, with the names of a few Casting Directors and what they're currently casting, but I never really understood what the website was all about. Now I do!

Blair Hickey and Brian Wold have partnered up with Breakdowns to basically create your own interactive and up to date Rolodex of casting directors. You become a member for $39.99/year or $9.95/month (if you're more on the auditioning for tv/film regularly and hustling with postcards, etc type of actor, this is a great thing to have.) you get a list of all the Casting Directors, what they're  casting, what type of show, whether that show is currently casting, on hiatus, canceled, etc, who their Associate is, and who their Assistant is. (They do this for the Los Angeles AND New York City market!)

Click on the Casting Director's name and you can see everything and anything they have ever cast, ever. Click on the show and you get a logline! You get an official website where you can see full episodes! Casting About lists whether it's a half hour comedy, one hour drama, etc, and you can know its status so that if you're sending postcards with your acting updates, you're not wasting a card and postage on a show that's on vacation.

As if that wasn't all amazing enough, they even have a Notes section, featuring such valuable info as where it shoots and if "Sam" is a girl, etc. Even better than that, you can WRITE YOUR OWN NOTES! Auditioned for a pilot with great feedback? You can notate it! Met a CD  at a workshop? You can notate it! Follow a cd on Twitter? You can notate that too! And they're all time stamped! And like I said, Blair and Brian slave away all day updating everything, five days a week.

Want to send a bunch of postcards to people? Click a button, and you can print labels!!! And they'll give you three different layout options!!!

You can search CDs and see what they're working on. You can see what they've done.

Casting About is literally like having your own personal assistant do all your homework for you. At $40/year, that's a pretty sweet deal.

"So what. I'm not getting out much. I'm a Struggling Actress." Well, come on now. You need to think out of the box. What type are you? Are you a sexy 30s type? Do you look intelligent when you slip on a pair of glasses and a suit jacket? Then you'd make one hell of a lawyer! With Casting About's filter features, you can find all the 1 hour dramas and see which ones have "courtroom" or "lawyer" in the logline and mail postcards to those CDs who you can tell are currently casting! Casting About makes it so easy for you!

Follow AA on Twitter! Tell them what you recently booked off AA and they retweet it! Heck, the kind people running their Twitter account read my last post and tweeted me congrats on my commercial booking. It's the small things, guys, seriously. Actors Access tweeting me congrats seriously made me feel like I had all of Breakdowns on my side.

They ALSO tweet interesting tidbits, acting related articles you should read, and if you mention you're going out for an audition or important rep meeting, they'll tell you to break a leg! Seriously, how sweet is that? You have ACTORS ACCESS rooting for you!

Eric Kuhr works hard at getting your reel uploaded as soon as he can. On an average day, 30 hardcopy reels are mailed in and 50-60 are emailed. He's seen his share of good and bad reels and has a few suggestions for how to make your reel even better:

1) Lose your title card! Casting wants to see you act immediately and they don't want to waste 15 seconds, 10 seconds, even 5 seconds watching what they already know - your name. Your video is attached to your profile. Casting sees your name and your photos and your rep, so just lose it.

2) No montage. It's filler and it's still keeping casting from getting to see you act. Lose it.

3) If you're going to put titles on your scene, like, "CSI:NY," make sure it's music video style where it's in the bottom corner and not distracting.

4) Start your scenes off with YOU. Sometimes this is difficult, but it must be done. Let's say you don't have, oh I don't know, really frikkin curly hair, and your scene partner is a girl who also kinda looks like you. Start off with you so we know who we are supposed to be watching.

5) A seven minute reel is too long. No one is watching it. They say 1 minute reels are best. In fact, when you mail or email your reel to Eric, you can notate that you'd like your reel to be "Clipped Out." They can go ahead and take your 7 minute reel and cut it where your scenes end so that you can have five clips of your scenes instead of a seven minute reel. They don't EDIT, mind you, they just cut your long reel into scenes. You can't have them do this if your video is already up there, but you CAN ask for it when you send in your new reel.

6) Do whatever you can to keep from naming your reel "Demo Reel." Eric says it's boring. You can actually title your reels whatever you want and even subtitle them. For instance, you could title a reel "Seriocomedic" and the type of character you play, like, "Neurotic Loner."

7) Actors Access changed it's reel price rules. It used to be $75 for the first minute, and $22 for every minute thereafter, but now it is JUST a flat fee of $22/minute. And the best part is, there's a 10 second grace window. If your reel is a minute and 8 seconds, it's still going to be only $22! As Eric said, "We're not in the business of ripping people off." They're really not.

8) Do not put clips of you in plays on your AA profile. Wrong market. And the footage of that is always taken by someone from the back row so not only is the sound quality awful, so's the visual.

Not too shabby, right? If you want to learn more about AA and what Casting sees, or if you just want to go to the Webinar and get the How to Use It and Other Fun Facts seminar and web visual, follow @ActorsAccess and ask them when the next one is.

Isn't it amazing how much they do for us Struggling Actresses and Actors? I thought I knew everything there was about it, and I was wrong. It makes it seem the Struggle seem a little bit easier knowing there's about 100 people doing their darndest to help us succeed at our careers. Makes it a little less lonely too.

Now go say hi to @ActorsAccess and tell them I sent ya!

There is now a Part 4!!

If you like this blog post, please share it via Twitter or Facebook and help spread the word to your fellow struggling actors.  :)


  1. Wow! This is awesome stuff, Lira. Makes me wish that there was something like that in NZ. We simply don't have the number of productions/casting directors/actors to warrant sites like these. But heck would that be amazing! Maybe I should win the lotto, pack up the family and head on out to LA... X
    P.S.: I too am rooting for you (not quite a pun but at least a rhyme) ^_^

  2. I cannot say amazingly useful this is! It's such a huge ocean of casting craziness that sometimes i feel overwhelmed. And something I think..really? Does this work? But yes, yes it does. And now I see how hard they're working for us over at AA.

    And i have to say, I get more call ins from AA then from anywhere else. So someone is doing something right.

  3. Great info!

    Wait so if I'm signing up for the first time I should sign up for Breakdown and then get AA for free for a year? Or where should I put my money first? lol...


  4. Had I not found this blog I would have never signed up for Actors Access and uploaded my demo reel. Thanks for taking the time to put this out there and providing some much insight.


  5. My question on reels, I have lots of strong acting from music videos, where I was a lead, telling a story,( not booty shaking or anything). Can/should that be added to an acting reel and how.

    1. You CAN - as like 5 seconds of an ending montage - but you shouldn't. Music videos do nothing to show you as an actor capable of handling lines, and makes it look as if you're trying to pad your reel.

  6. Well, I just read your entire ActorsAccess trilogy and I LOVED it!! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. My husband and I just recently moved to LA and we are learning sooo much.
    Part 2 was my fave: our agency in Spain had our headshots on Breakdowns in B&W!!! So I've emailed them to get that fixed right away.

    Thanks for sharing :)

  7. Me again! I forgot to ask you: I don't have material to do a reel, is it a good idea to tape myself doing a monologue or scene? What would you recommend?

    Thanks again,

  8. I was told recently that if you already have a reel on Actors Access, you can call and ask and they will clip it out for you as well for free. But just the first time.

  9. Thanks to your articles my demo is going up on AA now for sure instead of just linking to it.

    1. Yay! I hope you'll see an immediate uptick in auditions, like I did. :)

  10. I'm wanting to do Actors Access but I don't have a reel. I don't know how to go about this if I was only extras in films and never had a speak role. The only speaking I done was on a court show. Should I still apply, or is it a waste of time honestly?

  11. Hi Lira! You're a rockstar :) Thanks for these tips. On to numero cuatro (Part 4)!

  12. This is a real quick study. Merci Beacoup!

  13. This is a real quick study. Merci Beacoup!

  14. Hi Great read! Question, will having a slate shot move you up in the ranks as well? Or just a reel?

    1. In order from top to bottom:

      reel, slate shot, headshot, resume,
      reel, headshot, resume,
      slate shot, headshot, resume,
      headshot, resume.

      Hope that helps!

    2. If and ONLY if the CD leaves it on default sorting. I don’t know a single casting director who leaves it on default, myself included when I’ve cast stuff.


Play nice.