Dan Harris, the director and producer of iDanceMachine.com, wanted to defend his website and motives and I thought it would only be fair that I present his side to you. With his permission, here is his email:
I am amazed at the fact that you have formed a opinion on something you know nothing about. So I just had to respond to your comments that are not true. I will be the first to agree with you that there are websites out there that say they will cast you if you have a lot of votes, or worse charge you to get bookings. In the case of idancemachine.com that is entirely the opposite. Not only it's free but had you done your homework you would have found that the voting system at idancemachine is purely to inspire.
You also would have found that we have already cast some "Unknows". We cast a unknow from a small town in Australia, flew him out here on our dime, where he starred in (2) of our commercials and our new reality show. It wasn't his ratings that got him the gig, he simply was good actor. Ask any of our members. To respond to your promo marketing campaign theory, the second person we cast for the same shows, was little to unknow by most of our members and had a low vote count, and in fact had not been on our website in several months due to a family tragedy. But as it turns out she had several great auditions, so the casting director and I, cast her and flew her out from Houston TX on our own dime as well. And by the way, because the fact that this member had a very low status and rating on our site, we had some disgruntled members leave us do to the fact that we cast her. So there goes your rating therory out the window.
In regards to our vote/comment application, you should know that we use it to encourage not to discourage. A example, if someone was to receive 5 stars for a audition our highest rating, that would mean everyone has enjoyed and appreciated it, "a job well done". Now if you were to get a low number of votes on a audition, it's are hope that would inspire you, "to encourage you" to make a better audition. "To hone your craft". I will admit the auditions with the higher votes do grab more attention, that is called popularity and curiosity, that is normal in any situation, but in no way that means someone with a high vote count will be casted over someone with a low vote count, just ask our member from Houston TX.
To quote you, "probably worse than winning the lottery" if I am not mistaken everyday casting is just like winning the lottery. After all I'm sure you are aware that out of 120,000 SAG actors 3% of there members get work, isn't that is like winning the lottery?
As for named actors, at this point we are not aggressively going after any one like a Vanessa Hudgens or Dianna Agron, but hey if they were interested in doing our film we would definitely jump on it. But that doesn't mean the other 15 roles our so we would not be cast from our member base. Here is some homework for you, who was Zach Efron before High School Musical? [editor's note: well, since you asked, he was a series regular on a prime time network drama.]
At IDM we do not charge for any acting tip service. All of our information is free. We have several videos on how to make a proper video audition hosted by our casting director and noted acting coaches. And let us not forget we have industry professionals that leave comments all the time on auditions of how to better your performance. We have blogs that explain how to use sides, videos on what is the best way to use makeup for a audition, or sharing your profile with the rest of the web. And there so much more, which again is all free. Just so you know, several members have already booked work because of our website. Some even found representation, and it didn't cost them one cent.
I will say this; our website did start out as a simply way to cast for our 3D Dance movie, but as it turned out it became so much more. It now is a place for Actors, Singers, Dancers and the like to go and express themselves, chat with follow thespians, blog about there acting school, share ideas, or even commiserate about our wacky industry. It has turned into the Social Network for the Artist, and we intend to make that grow long after the movie is completed.
I grew up surrounded by actors and dancers, and I know how tough it can be trying to get a break just in Hollywood. Can you imagine how hard it must be for the rest of inspiring actors across the globe. This quote below is from one of our members. This is a shout out to Ophelia one of your members.
"For me, I'd rather be a long shot than a no shot. Put me in the game, put my name and face up where a million people can see it. The alternative is go to NY or LA, get in a workshop, network with everyone you can, try to get an agent and go on hundreds of auditions. That's what I've been doing here in LA for the past three years. Truth is if you got and they like it you're going to make it! That's what I say when I'm putting on my makeup every day!! and I will make it!"
In conclusion I invite you to check us out. If you do, I know you will see that we are forming a creative community for the artist in all of us.
Oh and if you speak to Anita make sure she does her homework.
Thanks for reading and writing, Dan!
I'm sure your letter helps my readers get a better idea of what you're about.