Hired from Home

For local actors, the next casting couch could be their own.

Are you an actor who’d love to audition for a role without leaving your house?

Well, keep your slippers on, because you’re in luck.

As of April 1, actors in Southern Louisiana can now subscribe to a service that allows them to do just that – find out about local casting calls, access audition lines and tape themselves from an iPhone or tablet. From there, they can just upload footage directly onto the site for filmmakers to see.

“Remote auditions have, of course, been done before in kind of an ad hoc way,” says Vinay Bhagat, co-founder and CEO of Hollywood Casting and Film, the company responsible for creating the online audition web portal hometowncastingandfilm.com. “People would tape themselves with a camcorder, then send that tape to their agent, who then sends it to the director. This is a very simplified process. We don’t know of anyone else doing this.”

Hollywood Casting and Film has been hosting online auditions for California actors since its 2012 founding. Since that time, thousands have paid a monthly subscription fee in exchange for the chance to both audition for roles online and create their own profile, which filmmakers can view. Roles come from local projects, as well as the company’s own production facilities, which have hosted “The Arsenio Hall Show,” and CNBC’s “The Prophet,” as well as programs for The Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon and a series of award-winning short films.

Following its success in Hollywood, Bhagat says the move to Hollywood South was a natural one.

“Obviously Louisiana was one of the first markets we looked at when it came time to expand,” he says. “We were looking for areas of the country with a particularly strong makeup of creative people and a good industry presence.”

Louisiana was one of five markets chosen for the portal’s debut outside California – the others include Austin, Nashville, Memphis and Atlanta.

Southern Louisiana actors have the choice of either a free membership to the site, which allows them to view local casting notices, or a paid membership, where, for a monthly fee of $10 to $16, depending on contract length, they can audition for films. Currently the site is casting for eight short locally- shot titles.

Vinay says that all eight films casting through the site are being produced by Hollywood Casting and Film, but the company intends to recruit as many filmmakers to use the service as possible. “A service like this will mean that within just a few hours of a casting call they can start seeing people. They’ll then be able to whittle the pool down to maybe the top 10 percent before ever having to rent any casting space.”  

With virtually every other industry taking advantage of today’s digital revolution – saving both time and money – its’ great to see Hollywood finally jumping in.