Casting is at the heart of the changing entertainment business – but is audition by Skype the only way to go digital?
Serial entrepreneurs Rafi Gordon and Alex Amin are disrupting and remaking the casting process. And they’re bringing their ideas to TheGrill this year.
“We’re modernizing the technology for everyone to use,” said Amin last week over lunch with TheWrap editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman. “Right now, an agent might spend two hours having to put together the right package of photos, pick the right clients to submit.”
That, they said, is too long. The co-CEOs – who met at UCLA a couple of decades ago – acquired Casting Networks and Cast It to create a cutting-edge digital platform that hosts over half a million profiles and facilitates over a million auditions per year.
It’s a freemium subscription model for actors, and is free for casting agents.
Sharon Waxman: What are you trying to do to disrupt the casting process in Hollywood?
Gordon: I wouldn’t say we’re trying to disrupt it as much as we’re trying to improve it so that it can keep up with the level of production and the amount of production that’s going on. We are no longer in a world where there’s 400 films made a year by four networks. We’re in a world where mobile and digital is first. And there’s just so much digital content being produced: smaller budgets, quicker timelines. We need to reimagine casting from a software prospective so that it can keep up with the volume of production.
What’s wrong with the current form of casting?
Amin: In LA, it’s still a very much studio based, facility based, audition process, which is inefficient. It’s very clunky. I’d say the technical side of the casting process is very Internet 1.0. It hasn’t evolved to be mobile enabled – even at a basic level.
So what are you guys doing to change the process?
Amin: We’re building a technology for commercial, theatrical and TV casting. The casting directors are now going to be doing their work, as it relates to agencies and how they manage their clients on our platforms as it relates to actors. We’re modernizing the technology for everyone, using what we know works and being able to have their own casting networks. I’ll give you one example: does it make sense that a casting director puts out an audition and goes to an agent, and the agent has to go in and search their roster with people that match the criteria of the casting director, and then individually clicking through those people having to submitting them? That technique makes no sense. Artificial intelligence should be able to find matches with the right potential candidates.
Gordon: It should be able to tell you, “Hey this is a dad role, and you usually submit these six clients of yours for dad roles we found that match for you.” Right now, if there’s six jobs they have to submit for, the agent might spend two hours having to put together the right package of photos, pick the right clients to submit all that. There’s so many ways technology can speed [the process]. So now you can submit more clients and more jobs that maybe you wouldn’t been able to have gotten to. Or time to search the unrepresented actors that may fit that criteria.
How many actors are on the platform now?
Amin: Over half of a million.
How many working actors are on the platform?
Gordon: That’s a great question, from a data perspective it aligns closely to 100,000 who are getting the lion share of the work, which is something we think can change. There’s so many opportunities for actors now that maybe that on a network show, we think technology can enable more actors to get more diverse, whether it’s mobile, whether it’s digital first.
Like this sneak peek? Get your ticket for TheGrill to meet Rafi and Alex and participate in the full discussion, October 1st and 2nd at The SLS Beverly Hills Hotel.