UPDATED: There is a potentially seismic about-face underway in the afflicted casting software business, which for decades had been bedeviled by Gary Marsh’s Breakdown Services. The casting association was abashed aftermost anniversary back Fox — 20th Century Fox TV and its analysis Fox 21 TV Studios, as able-bodied as cine flat 20th Century Fox — alone Breakdown and replaced it with Casting Networks, a primarily bartering casting account accepted by its operating casting LA Casting, which is anew alloyed with self-tape audience belvedere Casting It.
Fox TV Accumulation EVP Sharon Klein had been an aboriginal adopter and big fan of Casting It, a paid appliance acclimated by several studios and networks. Since Fox started appliance it a decade ago, the aggregation has been rechecking its aegis arrangement anniversary year. While Casting Networks had been talking to Fox about a accessible accord for a while, back POV Partners afresh acquired the aggregation and Casting It in abbreviate succession, they fabricated a angle about a defended end-to-end platform.
“It was a way to accomplish a automated action for our casting admiral so aggregate is all in one- briefs, sides, headshots, résumés, audience reels, auditions and all in a defended system,” Klein said.
The about-face has been brusque and adjoining on chaotic, arch to abashing and annoyance amid actors, aptitude assembly and casting directors. Actors accept active up to pay $15 a ages for anniversary one-photo profile; agents and managers accept been put in queue, cat-and-mouse for canicule to be uploaded into the arrangement with no luck and no admission to Fox breakdowns; and Fox casting admiral accept been disturbing to get their breakdowns out and do their job.
A shockwave went through the casting association November 13. Afterwards calling its casting admiral on Friday, November 10, Fox followed up with an email Monday to acquaint them that able November 20, 2017, Fox “will be appliance Casting Networks (in affiliation with Casting It Systems) alone for the administration of activity materials, including activity briefs, role descriptions, and added casting-related information.”
The aforementioned day, at 1:16 PM, Marsh, architect and buyer of Breakdown Services, which has been creating and distributing breakdowns on account of all networks and studios for chargeless for the accomplished 41 years, accustomed a abrupt email from Liz Paulson, 20th TV SVP Casting, acknowledging to him that the aggregation was activity with a new provider. It was followed moments afterwards by an identical email from Ronna Kress, Fox blur EVP Casting. Breakdown Casework proceeded to anon shut out all Fox projects, abrogation 20th TV scrambling to casting all alternation that were currently filming.
Fox TV and blur flat and Casting Networks had planned a apathetic rollout, with the aim to accept the arrangement up and active absolutely and glitch-free by pilot season. Instead, the belvedere went alive appropriate abroad aftermost Monday, afore it was ready, arch to the bulk of problems. They are actuality fixed, according to Rafi Gordon, co-CEO of Casting Networks/Cast It and Managing Partner of co-owner POV Partners.
“What was activity to be an acutely organized action became affectionate of a affray at the alpha of the anniversary and started to antithesis by the end of the anniversary as we started rolling out appropriate processes and procedures,” Gordon said.
Asked why the aggregation did not absorb added time advancing Casting Networks and amalgam it with Casting It afore the Fox accord was appear — so the aggregation would be accessible in case Breakdown Casework pulled the bung — he said, “I don’t anticipate we were able for anybody to be shut off their absolute platform. That’s absolutely not the way we intend to amusement our customers.”
Marsh said he removed all Fox breakdowns from his account because he perceived the email from the Fox TV and blur studios, which he declared as “terse,” as a abortion letter. (Breakdown Services’ partnerships with studios is based abundantly on a gentleman’s agreement, and I apprehend there are no academic diplomacy in place.) The three-line letter, afterwards advice him that Fox had alleged to assignment with Casting Networks, assured with “Should we allegation your casework in the future, we’ll be in touch.”
“The diction and the address (receiving the exact emails from both Ronna and Liz, accepting no added adumbration of their intentions apropos our account and no added advice from anyone else) larboard little allowance for agnosticism that they were absolute our 46-year relationship,” Marsh said. “They told us they no best bare our services, so we chock-full accouterment those services.”
What ensued the afterward few canicule was a mad dash, with bags of reps aggravating to get admission to Casting Services. That appeared to beat the vendor, with a continued delay for the abate agencies and all administration companies, and actors angry that they were actuality prompted to angle over $15 a ages for every adumbrative contour if they accept added than one rep — agents in assorted cities, added manager(s) — appointment them for jobs.
“I basic to accurate to you my annoyance as an amateur with this accommodation that Fox fabricated to clearly or unofficially about-face their breakdowns from Breakdown Casework to LA Casting (Casting Networks),” amateur Colbert Alembert told Deadline. “As you may already know, LA Casting accuse us per photo, per profile, and with two afflicted agents beneath my belt (one in LA and addition one in Atlanta), it is artlessly too cher for me to set up a replica of a afflicted contour on LA Casting to amateur what I accept on Breakdown Services, appropriately acceptance my agents to abide to abide me on acceptable breakdowns from this studio.”
The affair has now been rectified, Gordon confirmed, with anniversary amateur set to accept assorted chargeless profiles on Casting Networks if they accept Hollywood representation, apery the altitude on Breakdown Services, which additionally alone accuse non-represented thesps. This was actual important for Fox, which had fabricated it a top requirement.
“Our ambition is that an amateur will never pay for things that I allegation from them, a casting administrator will never pay for things I allegation for them, we will abide to pay for the service,” Klein said. (Fox continues to pay for Casting It as it has in the past. Casting Networks is a chargeless add-on account the way Breakdown Casework has consistently been chargeless to studios and networks.)
Because Casting Networks had been geared against commercials actors, its basal chargeless contour amalgamation has consisted of a photo and a résumé. Plus, in commercials, agents and managers are admired differently. That had agitated over to the afflicted side, with actors repped alone by managers advised as unrepresented.
In allotment afterwards inquiries by Deadline, these glitches are actuality fixed. Anniversary amateur who has any Hollywood representation — abettor and/or administrator — is now able to actualize chargeless profiles for anniversary of their reps in assorted cities that abide of two shots and a audience reel. All actors who had been answerable for uploading profiles aftermost anniversary will be reimbursed, Gordon said. There is currently a allegation to change a contour photo, but the plan is to acquaint absolute changes to 2 photos by June 2018.
As of the end of aftermost week, 30 casting directors, 80 agencies (with their clients’ profiles) and bags of chargeless actors accept been onboarded, Gordon said. (I apprehend that, because of Casting Networks’ inherent alterity amid agents and managers mentioned above, administration companies still cannot active up.)
The aggregation beatific out 15 briefs (the chat acclimated by Casting Networks for breakdowns) aftermost week.
“Despite the annoyance out there that we absolutely understand, we do accept 50 (customer service) bodies alive at any time on the buzz — it’s a appealing able-bodied operation,” Gordon said. “Everyone is activity to be on afore end of the year if not sooner, he said, abacus that the ambition is to accept best set up in the aing two weeks, with the company’s aggregation alive through the Thanksgiving anniversary to advice accommodated the appeal and adamant out the kinks.
There additionally has been abashing over agents fees. Breakdown Casework accuse agents and managers $256 a ages in Los Angeles and $146 in New York, distributing 400-600 breakdowns a week. There had been belief that Casting Networks additionally would be charging reps, which would actualize bifold announcement because they additionally accept to pay for Breakdown Casework as it works with all added studios and networks.
Would Casting Networks burden from charging reps until it grows its footprint? “Absolutely, that’s why we are bouncing a lot of fees in the accessible aeon until this is all sorted out — we didn’t anticipate the agents would end up absent to bifold pay for it,” Gordon said.
Right now, if Casting Networks abettor or administrator audience opt to get emails on new projects that accept amorphous casting, they are barraged by advice on Fox blur and TV projects as able-bodied as a advanced ambit of abutment and non-union commercials. A clarification option, acceptance reps to alone accept afflicted casting information, will be in abode by pilot season, Gordon said.
As for the somewhat arguable clarification convenance Breakdown has been appliance in the accomplished year or so, acceptance casting admiral to accelerate accurate breakdowns alone to a baddest accumulation of agents and managers, excluding advantageous reps, “I’m not abiding area that will end up; we would apparently appetite the industry to behest the administration we take,” Gordon said.
While actors get chargeless profiles, there are exceptional casework offered to them too, which some agencies pay for on account of their clients, while others don’t. Casting Networks hopes a apparatus for that to be in abode in time for pilot season. “If not, the accomplished arrangement will be overhauled and rebuilt for aing season,” Gordon said.
Despite rumors stemming from Casting Networks’ antecedent setup, there is no anniversary fee for repped actors, unless they opt for exceptional casework (such as absolute media hosting for $4.95/month, which the aggregation is now alms as a chargeless advance so actors can upload reels chargeless of allegation — as abounding videos, up to 4 account in breadth and 50MB).
Here is a FAQ affection Casting Networks launched afterward our adventure that aims at troubleshooting the signup issues.
There had been some anecdotal advice about accessible aegis issues at Casting Networks area allegedly applicant lists and actors’ buzz numbers had been break accessed. “This is top antecedence for us as able-bodied both from abstracts aegis and ability aegis perspective. That action is advancing and will be in abode for casting season,” Gordon said.
One added aboriginal affair in the about-face has been the actuality that Casting Casework has no cast in Canada. The aggregation is currently uploading Canadian actors profiles and signing Canada-based aptitude assembly and casting directors, Gordon said. There is alone one appearance affected, Fox/20th TV’s The X-Files, which is currently wrapping its division in Canada.
Despite the asperous alpha and growing pains, Fox admiral are optimistic about the diplomacy of Casting Networks, admitting they assets the appropriate to appraise its success in the future.
“I am dupe that this is activity work,” Klein said. “If it becomes a huge failure, casting admiral are black and actors accept to pay, we will reconsider. But we apprehend this to work.”
Now that we accept addressed the afire questions about the alteration to the new platform, let’s dive added into how the about-face from Breakdowns to Casting Networks was implemented, Marsh’s reaction, and POV Partners’ business plan for Casting Networks and their end game, which may go way above casting software services.
Marsh said that he’d heard a rumor Fox may be alteration its casting casework provider and had accomplished out to admiral at the aggregation repeatedly, aggravating to allege to them. He did not get a acceptance until those November 13 emails from Paulson and Kress.
Marsh again beatific an email to his audience allegorical them of Fox’s decision, in which he included Paulson’s email to appearance audience that it was not him absolute Fox, he said. Marsh additionally emailed top admiral at the altered Fox capacity including blur studios’ bang-up Stacey Snider and TV administration Peter Rice, Dana Walden and Gary Newman. A archetype of the exec email was acquired by Deadline.
In it, he talked at breadth about Breakdown Services’ history, the company’s ambit of services, its all-inclusive database that includes 1.1 actor actor- and agent-generated aptitude profiles, and the actuality it is alone account accustomed by the Casting Society of America. He also attached a spreadsheet of all Fox 2017 projects that Breakdown Casework accept been complex in casting and requested a affair to altercate the affair further. (Casting Networks is additionally currently alive on accepting an endorsement from CSA.)
Marsh did not get a meeting. He said instead he accustomed a alarm from Fox acknowledged diplomacy controlling Carol Genis, who told him Fox had fabricated its accommodation to about-face casting casework providers afterwards research. She asked him to no best acquaintance Fox executives, and to apologize to Paulson for including her email in his letter to clients, which Marsh did.
“I accept not accustomed any acumen why the accommodation was made,” Marsh told Deadline. “Quite frankly, I’ve been at a complete accident to accept why Fox would bandy the industry into anarchy like this.”
Sources said Fox blur and TV studios’ decision did not axis from any issues with Breakdown Services. It was about the befalling to accept Casting It, a account the aggregation loves, as allotment of an all-embracing casting software belvedere to accumulate its casting action in one, defended place. Fox is believed to accept no banking absorption in Casting Networks, and sources say the aggregation fabricated the about-face for its own casting needs, behindhand whether added networks and studios would chase clothing or not.
Breakdown Casework had approached studios — but not Fox — with a angle to pay for services. (For instance, Casting It is paid, while Breakdown has a agnate account for self-taped auditions, alleged Eco Cast, which is free.) He said the studios weren’t interested, and he did not accompany it. “There are no accepted or approaching affairs to allegation the studios or networks for the casework we accept provided for the accomplished 46 years,” Marsh said. The aggregation is prepping a exceptional action band-aid paid product, and is in talks with a above arrangement about implementing it.
Marsh additionally had afresh floated a appeal to get announcement at the end of shows and films. “It was alone requesting some anatomy of account and acceptance that we are important in the casting process,” Marsh said. That additionally was met with attrition by studios, so he alone it.
I apprehend neither of these initiatives played a role in Fox’s accommodation to abandon its accord with Breakdown, and they never accomplished the decision-makers at the company. Neither did any abeyant aegis apropos about Breakdown, which Marsh had listed in an email to audience as a accessible acumen that he had heard from absolute sources.
“Our aegis is amazing,” he said. “We advance an astronomic bulk of assets to assure the bookish acreage of the studios. We angrily assure the interests and the advice of all clients.” He added that the company’s aegis arrangement had been auspiciously vetted by added networks and studios, but Fox had not requested a test.
With Breakdown Casework no best distributing Fox breakdowns, would the aggregation accede blurred ante for reps?
“We assignment with every added above arrangement and studio,” said Marsh, whose business is actuality threatened by the upstart. “I don’t anticipate I’m in a position yet to acknowledgment this question, it’s too soon. I still anticipate Fox could apprehend what a abhorrent aberration they accept fabricated and adjudge what is best for the industry and acquaint casting directors, ‘use whatever account fits your needs’.”
Gordon and and co-CEO Alex Aminn, who met as acceptance at UCLA, ahead congenital addition data-based belvedere for the ball industry, Flat System, and ran it for 16 years afore affairs it. He said the duo, who “ultimately appearance ourselves as builder-operators,” per Gordon, consistently has been absorbed in the casting amplitude and approved to build a arrangement there 10 years ago, “but all the absolute players had done a appealing acceptable job, we anticipation there wasn’t allowance for us to play.”
“Looking at aggregate that was there, it acquainted like the casting software industry, with things like Breakdown, LA Casting and Casting It, had been supper avant-garde 5-10 years ago, and had absolutely bigger ability that enabled some of the admeasurement of agreeable that you see,” Gordon said. “Flash advanced 10 years, and we acquainted that aggregate was a little bit Internet 1.0-ish, there was an befalling to accession capital, you could consolidate some of the space, accompany in able management, accompany in a absolute technology development team.”
With that idea, the duo, who additionally accept launched a artefact adjustment collective adventure with WME-IMG, were able to defended abetment from private disinterestedness groups and started alongside acquisitions, aboriginal of Casting Networks, which controls 95% of the bartering casting market, anon followed by Casting It.
“From our point of view, Casting Networks had the best technology for scheduling management, audience management, video editing, video uploading, and what we admired about Casting It was that it had the flat customers,” Gordon said. “We anticipation the technology, capabilities, chump base of the two meshed absolutely well.”
Is the ambition for Casting Networks to become a appalling battling to Breakdown, which has bedeviled the afflicted casting software exchange for decades?
“No that’s a babyish step, our ambitions are abundant greater than that,” Gordon said. “We appearance the accomplished software industry that supports the ball conception ecosystem as article inefficient and broken, and if we can body aloft it, the casting amplitude is aloof a baby allotment of that.”
How will Casting Networks differentiate from Breakdown — which had billed itself as “the alone aggregation that provides complete chip casework from submissions to auditions” — as both now action full-service casting platforms for blur and TV?
“What would differentiate us is activity to be the akin of technology and composure and able administration that we accompany into this. We feel like it’s been a cottage industry which we are adorning into appropriately run, best practices, best technologies; we are bringing a lot of capital, a lot of talent,” Gordon said.
As for Gordon and Amin’s big-picture, abiding goals, “we are activity to accept ample studios and networks advantageous for premiums casework as they do now with Casting It, and we accept a accomplished apartment of added applications we anticipate they would be blessed to pay for that reflect the abundant technology we are accomplishing for them,” he said. “We will accept a adaptation of Freemium archetypal not antithetical to LinkedIn area aptitude and reps will accept a actual able-bodied chargeless alms capabilities and there will be a exceptional offering, affectionate of like LinkedIn, on top of that.”
One abstraction the aggregation is because is to aggrandize the video auditions appliance Casting It to additionally handle trailers.
“Overall what we anticipate the big business befalling accurately in the casting amplitude is to body an actor-facing brand,” Gordon said. “In the eco-system all the participants, we anticipate anticipate the antithesis has been focused on casting admiral and representatives. We don’t anticipate you accept to booty abroad from that but I anticipate you can do added for the actors than it’s historically done, to accomplish them a lot happier and accord them accoutrement that would advice them.”
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