Always wanting to work efficiently, I pondered how I could make this assignment work multiple tasks.
A Little Background
Before this whole school thing I made a living as a producer and casting director. I still take gigs during my school breaks to pay for my kids’ tuition (that should be the subject of another blog one day).
For spring break I decided to take a gig as the Hawaii Production Coordinator for an episode airing on the Discovery Chanel’s SharkWeek. We did the same gig last year. My husband and I work as a team. As we both have other things going on (he works in house for a different company editing/directing/graphics and I got this dual degree [JD & MLISc] plus work thing); it is easier to do these big projects tag-team.
Among other tasks, I am charged with the duty of casting. I have cast everything from student films to 30 second TV spots to million dollar movies. I have done it the old school way (notices on call boards, agency calls, open call or scheduled auditions) and sometimes I have utilized newer methods (email lists, craigslist, etc...).
Old school style:
This screenshot was found at this site. This is a very real example of what you end up with at the end of the day:
And this is what I normally look like a few hours into a casting session:
For my present casting assignment, I have to cast actors for a series of re-enactments for SharkWeek. They are all non-speaking extras; some featured, but most are non-featured.
After first exhausting the group of players I like to use all the time, whenever I can (they are reliable, good and easy to work with). I decided to cast the rest via an online community of actors.
I joined the Hawaii Actors Network.
Here is the casting notice I posted:
A Bit About Hawaii Actors Network
The site is like a mash up of Facebook/Myspace/LinkedIn community for actors.
They got status updates like Facebook:
They got groups you can join like FB:
You can post resumes and such like LinkedIn:
You can add music like Myspace:
Alert -- mean girl tangent coming up...
Honestly, when I used to do myspace, this used to annoy me to no end! This whole playing music crap when I visit your page...whatever...if I wanted to hear what kind of lame "13-year-old-girl 'I feel soooo emo so I'm gonna bring all y'all down into my quasi-passive-aggressive whine for attention' music, I turn on cable TV or the radio or call up my sister.
Sorry, my mean girl slipped out.
Anyways...back on track....
Casting Online VS Casting In Real Life
In the Dempsey article, the author states, "People connect and share themselves through ‘social objects’ (music, photos, video, links, or other shared interests) and it has been argued that successful social networks are those which form around such social objects."
The Hawaii Actors Network site is made up of users (actors) displaying all their social objects for casting directors, producers or anyone who will hire them to see.
Examples of social objects included resumes, headshots, comp cards etc.....
The Dempsey article also states "Participation in a shared communications space blurs boundaries between work, social interaction and leisure." I found this to be true in the HAN. They do meet ups:
and people ask for all kinds of help:
Getting Users Involved
To illustrate the "eight major decision points" surrounding the annotations discussed in Dr. Gazan's article, I decided to post my casting notice as a blog entry instead of posting it in the "casting call" group.
I wanted to see if people would comment. The actors did not have to comment to submit for the parts, because in the casting notice I asked interested actors to message me privately. Below, I will compare the eight points in terms of In Real Life (old school casting) and casting online.
Online: The display included an option to add comments, view comments, and view all my blogs.
IRL: All you see is the notice on the call board.
Ease of Annotation
Online: Any member can comment.
IRL: Unless you write on my casting notice (frowned upon - -kinda vandalism), there is no commenting.
Online: There is none. A member has to include name and profile information to comment.
IRL: I guess if no one sees you marking up my casting sheet, then it is anonymous.
Control of content
Online: I can delete comments, so can the owner.
IRL: I can take down my notice, so can the stage manager or other authority person.
Harvesting annotation content
Online: Easy to do
IRL: Not so much
Ease of retrieval
Online: Easy to do
IRL: Harder - got to make calls, schedule audition, wait for submissions, look through submissions
Traffic and network effects
Online: This is the best part of HAN! Within minutes I got tons of responses (over 50 responses in 30 minutes). The Leibenluft article also supports this phenomenon, "Post a semicoherent question and the responses will come within minutes, if not seconds."
IRL: Unless a class is letting out nearby, and even then, it does not even come close.
Notification and sharing
Online: Easy to notify (email, private message, wall post) easy to share
IRL: Not as easy (calls, waiting, meetings, waiting)
Measuring Success in the Community
In her article on social networks and information filtering, Kristina Lerma states, "users with active social networks are more successful in getting their stories promoted to the front page. We believe that this, coupled with the observation that top-ranked users have larger social networks, explains their success." I think this is true for my posting. All the commenting, private messaging, and friend adding made for lots of activity.
Also, I think the post was successful because, as Caroline Haythornthwaite explains in her article
"Participation can be motivated by interest in the particular endeavor." The endeavor here is probably the strongest motivator for an actor - landing an acting gig.
Here is the Leaderboard, as of last night:
Interestingly the Leaderboard is viewable by the whole community.
After reading the Geisler and Burns article I realized that a tagging function would have been good to have for this blog post. I think that the tags "SharkWeek" "Discovery Channel" and "Casting" would have drawn even more eyes to my post.
HAN makes a casting director's life easier when it comes to casting extras. If I don't need to see you "act" it is all good.
Room for the dinosaur Old School Way
But it can never replace the face to face - especially then the stakes are high (a featured speaking role).
Although you can do a video chat audition through HAN, I need to see the actors, get a feel for them, a lot of this business is run on instinct. I do not think I can go with my gut based on a video chat.
On a side note - This is my favorite part of the community - Pet Actors! Yay! BEST EVER!!!
Whatever you are looking for they got it....
And dogs (this is the pet of the month)