CASTING DIRECTOR BLOG

Spotlight: The Lowdown

08 Jun 2020, Posted by Nicci in Casting Tips

Spotlight – The Lowdown

Here is the second instalment in my series where I deep dive across the whole of the casting industry chatting with ALL the platforms and tools in the casting space so you can all better understand how to use all the MANY amazing tools there are out there that can to help boost your career.

Today I turn my beady eye on Spotlight, arguably one of the best known platforms in this space.

For avoidance of doubt I must stress that NONE of these discussions with companies in this space are sponsored and there are no affiliate links or relationships.

What is Spotlight?

Spotlight is a casting platform that helps casting directors connect with the very best professional performers, while providing actors with access to the best roles in television, film and theatre. 
Spotlight gives performers the opportunity to be seen by professional casting directors across the globe.

So let the fun begin.

Today I am speaking with Annie Tokatlian, the Head of Marketing and Communications at Spotlight

Nicci: Hi Annie

Annie: Hi Nicci, thanks for having me on the blog.

Nicci: No problem! My pleasure. I’m sure many people will have heard of Spotlight, but I would love to give my readers more of an insight into what you guys do. So I have a few questions… 🙂

Annie: Go for it

What are the benefits of being a Spotlight Member?

  • We work really hard to promote as many professional acting opportunities for our members as possible. However, we know that many of our members will have periods where they may not find regular acting opportunities so we try to offer not just a profile for casting opportunities but also support in other areas. These include:
  • Events
    • We stage over 100 free events in London, Manchester, Glasgow and Dublin throughout the year for our members including the very popular Open House.
  • Career advice / showreel editing
    • We provide free of charge, one-to-one career advice sessions with an industry professional to help get the best out of your Spotlight experience
    • We also offer affordable bespoke showreel editing services. Of course our team knows exactly what’s needed for a Spotlight profile and so we can help you if you don’t feel confident in editing your acting showreel yourself.
    • We also provide tips and advice through our web portal and also through videos and podcasts with industry experts
  • Discounts
    • We offer our members a raft of discounts across lifestyle, motoring, shopping, travel, insurance and other special offers.
    • Used wisely all of these discounts can easily add up to the cost of your yearly membership.

How do I get on Spotlight?

  • Spotlight is only for professional performers, so to become a member you need to have either formal drama training to graduate level, or have had speaking roles in at least four professional productions in television, film or theatre.
  • A professional credit is a paid speaking role in a film, television or theatre production. This does not include short films, student productions, commercials, music videos, promotional videos or corporate videos.
  • Our membership fees are £158 and can be paid by direct debit to help spread the load and we also offer discount to disabled members

What are your top 5 tips?

  • Headshot – Start with a great headshot – here is a link to all our articles about headshots https://www.spotlight.com/news-and-advice/?tags=headshots
  • Audition Skills – I know you have some great advice on this Nicci (link to this here), but being able handle this nerve-wracking process is super important. We also have lots of great advice online too to help with this too https://www.spotlight.com/news-and-advice/?tags=auditions
  • Professional Training – we’ve got a great training guide online that talks about the pros and cons of this (link here) to help you weigh up this option
  • Write and direct your own material – If you haven’t got much work coming in then make your own! Either on film or at a fringe festival these are great ways of honing your skills whilst you are waiting for the offer to come rolling in 🙂
  • Be patient and persevere! – Keeping motivated is tough, and rejections can be hard, but there’s always more opportunities on the horizon. Again we have lots of advice online for this. Check out our video on staying motivated here https://www.spotlight.com/news-and-advice/interviews-podcasts/how-to-stay-motivated/

What do you do to ensure fairness is undertaken as part of the casting process when casting directors submit briefs?

  • Firstly we ONLY work with professional casting directors who have to meet strict criteria too
  • We also vet castings until we are confident the party posting is publishing appropriate content and our team monitor all breakdowns being posted
  • We have a report concern button for our agent and performer members to alert us to breakdowns they are unhappy with
  • We continually review our inclusivity statement on breakdowns and all casting professionals must confirm their understanding before proceeding to post
  • Casting directors are required to confirm that all characteristics they’re searching for are directly required for a role (rather than including or excluding certain groups for no reason), to ensure a casting is as open and inclusive as possible
  • We also work with other industry bodies to maintain and improve industry standards across the board, such as ensuring appropriate pay levels and treatment of actors etc.

The industry is often criticised for being elitist and middle-class  – how have you seen the industry change over the past 5 years if at all?

  • The landscape for drama training in the UK has completely changed. With the demise of Drama UK there are now more avenues than ever to get into the industry and Spotlight has adapted to this – ensuring there are multiple access points into the industry that are not based on background or income.
  • We’re passionate about supporting inclusivity, diversity and mental health within our industry which is why we support a number of charities and initiatives in this sector including:
    • Albert – who are bringing the film and TV industries together to tackle our environmental impact
    • ERA (Equal Representation for Actresses) – 50:50’s campaign aim is to inspire British film, television and theatre to lead the way and implement equal gender balance on screen and stage
    • Open Door – a non-profit organisation that helps talented young people who do not have the financial support or resources to gain a place at one of the UK’s leading drama schools.
    • BFI Flare LGBTQ+ Festival – a vibrant and precious space for debate, compassion, community and empowerment

How do you see the industry changing over the next 5 years?

  • We hope and EXPECT to see film, television and theatre representing society more fairly and realistically, and celebrating diversity even more and that is why we’re working hard to make sure that change happens by supporting our initiatives and charities.

 

Nicci: Thanks Annie. Where can my readers hear more about you and follow what you do?

Annie: You can check us out on the links below:

www.spotlight.com
twitter.com/SpotlightUK
instagram.com/SpotlightUK/

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