How To Book Roles If You Don’t Have An Agent

Where to begin with self-submitting online.

Last week I spoke about how to find a new agent. This week, I wanted to highlight what you can do if you don’t have an agent, or if you’re just not ready for one yet. Why would an actor not be ready for an agent you ask? Well, for me, when I was getting back into acting after a few years off–My husband and I both had full-time jobs, and two kids aged two and under. I really wanted to be able to control the number of auditions I was submitting for, and be super-clear on all the specs, dates, and pay, before taking a day off to go to an audition. You don’t always get that kind of visibility with an agent. In the past, I’ve had agents send me off to auditions, and once I’d driven 40 minutes to get there, I realized that I wasn’t available for the shoot date, or that the project itself was going to pay me less than what I’d lose for taking a day off work.

I know it’s not all about the money–but sometimes, it is.

So I decided that I was going to self-represent for a while, and see how it went. Doing a internet search, you’ll find many sites that offer actors an opportunity to submit for projects–and you’ll even find groups on Facebook. Like anything, you should always do your own research and be careful as to what information you are sending to whom.

Here are some sites I have personal experience with, and would recommend.

Mandy.com. It used to be free and I did get some jobs on there. A PSA, a photoshoot for a bank, some student films, a role in a movie, and a lead in a short film. None of these paid very well, but I did get some experience, and my first IMDb credit. Mandy is now a paid subscription service, so you can sign up to get casting notices for free, but you will need to pay a subscription in order to submit. I personally felt it was a lot of money for the quality of productions that were listed there–most are all non-union projects.

Casting Workbook is a site that many agents use to submit you for roles. This is where you’ll get a combination of union and non-union breakdowns, but only some of them allow you to self-submit. It is subscription based, but they offer a free website, multiple photo uploads, lots of free interviews with casting directors and other industry professionals, self-tape app, and ability to upload a demo-reel. There are other features that have been newly released, and I urge you to take a look around to learn more. For the price, I think it’s worth it, plus, if you sign on with an agent, you will be required to get signed up anyway.

Casting Networks is a newer casting website that I recently signed up for at the advice of my agent. I don’t get many auditions from here, but it is used by one particular casting house in Toronto. The good thing about it is, you don’t need to pay to get started, and the basic package is a very fair price. I haven’t used it to self-submit, but the website boasts “More roles are booked through our site than anywhere else worldwide.” I’d definitely recommend checking it out.

Now, my favourite casting site, where I have received the most audition success–with and without an agent, is Actors Access. You can sign up for free, and you can even pay per submission. But, for the approachable price of $68 USD/year, you get unlimited submissions, plus free sides from Show Fax (some casting directors will send the sides directly to you, but some expect you to look them up). This is where I was able to book my first role on a TV series by self-submitting, plus have I had many other successes through my agent. You’ll have to pay extra to load extra photos or video content, but for the amount of work you’re able to submit for–I didn’t find a need to load anything else other than what was offered in the basic package.

Other websites I’ve found helpful and are free: Groundglass Casting, Brunch, and eBoss Canada. Simply sign up to receive casting notifications, and apply when something fits.

The main difference I see between having an agent and not, is the amount of auditions I get. Even though I get some auditions from my agent that I could’ve self-submitted for–I receive MANY more auditions that I didn’t even see. Either they do not allow for self-submissions, or the breakdown is sent directly to agents.

But, if you’re currently unrepresented, getting work on your own will only help your chances of getting signed on with a good agency. Also, you get to keep all your money!

Like anything, take your time to do the research, take care of yourself and trust your gut. If it seems too good to be true, or seems fishy–ask lots of questions, find an actor’s group on Facebook, and see if anyone knows anything more about it. Do some digging, the acting community is large, and (mostly) friendly. Also, feel free comment below and I’ll see if I can help 🙂

Until next time, all the best!

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