Backstage Review: Giving Actors Their Start Since 1960
Sandra Bullock remains one of the biggest names in Hollywood, with an Academy Award and plenty of commercially-successful roles to show for her three decades of work. But the Ocean’s 8 star attributes her success to one very popular Hollywood resource: Backstage.
She’s one of a long list of stars who got their first big break through the ongoing list of casting notices published in the magazine. As the entertainment industry began providing resources online, Backstage was one of the first websites to list opportunities on its website.
Backstage is a respected name among actors at all career levels. But models and voiceover artists can also find work through the site. Backstage.com separates its opportunities into a variety of categories to make it easy to keep an eye on castings specific to your area. There’s even a section for cruise ship and reality show casting calls. Best of all, the information is available free of charge, although you’ll need a membership to apply to opportunities.
If you’re a member of SAG or you have an agent, though, you can browse the Backstage.com casting listings without paying a dime. It’s a great way to be proactive in your career. However, you will miss out on being emailed when new opportunities are posted by not being a member, as well as the many other membership benefits.
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How Does Backstage.com Work?
Like its print version, Backstage.com serves as a directory of casting opportunities.
You can never pay a dime and simply check the notices every day. But the biggest benefits come from purchasing a membership, which lets you set up a profile and directly apply to casting opportunities.
To gets started with Backstage.com, go to the website and look through the casting calls. From those listings, you can easily determine whether there are enough opportunities in your area, fitting your skillset, to merit paying for a membership. If you decide to join, simply click on Join at the top of any page and choose your membership options.
Once you’re signed up, the next step should be to create a profile. If you don’t already have a headshot, it might be worth investing in a photographer who specializes in headshot photography. But you can take a headshot on your own, as long as you know the basic tenets of good headshot photography. Newer smartphone cameras can take fairly high-quality photos that you can use until you have the money to pay a professional.
Although your profile could lead to you being discovered, chances are you’re going to have to do the legwork to get gigs. Make a point to check casting listings on a daily basis and set up notifications to make sure you’re the first to hear when a new opportunity is posted. As you start applying and landing auditions, you’ll also find the community-based features on the site are essential to improving your craft and landing the type of roles you want.
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Does Backstage Cost Money?
Backstage Paid Services:
Although you can watch casting notices, you’ll need a profile to apply to the opportunities you see.
You can get a full year’s membership for $119.88, which comes to $9.99 a month. However, if you just want to get started bringing in some money before you commit to a long-term membership, you can sign up for a month-to-month membership at $19.95 a month.
But applying for work is only part of your benefits. One of the best tools on the Backstage website is the ability to set up a profile, which is then searchable by casting directors or anyone else looking for talent. You can upload a headshot, reel, list of your skills, credits, and more. You can update your profile at any time and use your completed profile to apply for casting calls you see.
Once you have a membership, you can sign up for email alerts when new jobs are posted that suit your area of interest. Casting directors and other industry influencers can also message you through the platform, making it more likely someone will reach out if they need more information about you.
In addition to hiring resources, Backstage.com is a great resource for networking with others in your industry. The performing life can be a bumpy one, so it can help you to have a few friends along for the journey. If you meet someone at an audition, you can use Backstage.com to track the person down and reach out. The Community section of the site is a great place to ask questions and read advice from everyone from seasoned veterans to newbies. The Gig & Tell section encourages performers to share information about various casting opportunities. If you’re thinking about taking a job on a cruise ship, for instance, you can read reviews from many others who have worked there, helping you decide whether it’s a gig worth pursuing.
Backstage in Print
If you live in a city like New York City or Los Angeles, you probably have seen the print version of Backstage on newsstands around town. At one time, this was the only way to get access to casting news, making it well worth the price. However, an annual subscription to Backstage is quite expensive, and you won’t have the real-time updates that you get with Backstage.com.
Backstage offers subscriptions for $149.95 a year, or you can just pick up a copy at any local bookstore or newsstand that carries it. You can also subscribe to the print version of the call sheet, published twice each year. You may be able to save significant money by subscribing to the print version through Amazon, which is offering subscriptions for $79 a year.
Although print versus online is a matter of preference, there are many benefits to a Backstage.com membership that you won’t get with the magazine. The website gives casting agents the ability to post casting news at the last minute, where the print magazine has a delay. If you don’t have an agent and you’re non-union, the online version gives you the opportunity to submit your information electronically.
Still, some prefer to simply pick up a copy of the magazine when they need it. That makes it likely a better option for those who only occasionally look for acting opportunities, perhaps when your schedule allows. If you plan to splurge on an annual subscription, though, the website is by far the better deal.
How did Backstage get started?
In late 1960, two friends who had worked together at a trade publication launched a publication of their own. At the time it was called Back Stage and had the subhead, A New Complete Service Weekly for the Entertainment Industry.
Casting news was part of the early issues, but they also included industry news and a listing of Broadway shows.
During its decades in the business, Backstage has become a go-to resource for casting agents and production companies. In fact, anyone looking for talent is likely to place a notice on Backstage.com. Casting agents know that more than 250,000 performers check the listings, making it more likely they’ll be able to fill those roles quickly.
Today, Backstage has more than 700,000 members, making it a powerful resource for anyone involved in the entertainment industry. Backstage has relationships with SAG-AFTRA, NBC, Actors’ Equity, HBO, Nickelodeon, and Disney, and more than 160,000 creators looking for talent. All of this makes it the perfect gathering place for industry professionals of all types.
Why Use a Casting Database?
Although a casting database isn’t the only tool available to aspiring talent, it’s one of the best resources you’ll find. As important as it is to hone your craft, you’ll need to get out there and audition if you want to get work. A casting database membership ensures that at any time you can log in and see what’s happening in your area. Chances are, many other performers are checking the listings every day, so it will give you the same advantage they have, especially if you don’t yet have an agent who can apply to those opportunities on your behalf.