"Acting is the ability to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances." -- Sanford Meisner


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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Online Casting Call Sites (Singapore)

This post compares Singapore-based online casting call sites that help freelance actors look for paid roles (those with dialogues), in stage/film productions. 


Statistics based on: 100 AADB casting calls from 21 January 2016 to 21 March 2016.

Note: FBCCS is a superset. It has more casting calls than AADB. All the 100 casting calls (barring the unpaid ones) in AADB also appears in FBCCS, but not the converse. 

Note: FBCCS forbids unpaid gigs to be posted in the group and bars errant or dubious production companies. It also has a black list of companies who default or delay payments to actors. FBCCS is moderated by a group of volunteer administrators.

Of the 100 AADB casting call posts, only 81 are unique posts for paid work for actors (with dialogues).

In the 30 days from 21 March 2016 to 22 April 2016, there are only 56 unique AADB posts for paid work. This means an estimated:
1.87 posts per day; or 
683 posts per year; 
Given that AADB charges $150 for its basic services, this works out to be 22 cents per post.

In the same comparison, FBCCS has 126 unique posts on paid work for actors with dialogue. This means an estimated:
4.2 posts per day; or 
1,533 posts per year;
and all FOR FREE!

AADB may pride itself as an actor's database that casting agents may go to, but in the last year, I only got 1 paid assignment from this route. 

In comparison, I got about 5 paid assignments  from producers, directors and casting agents having found me on Facebook.  This means that my free Facebook profile page and my blog have worked better than my paid profile page on AADB.

At the time of writing, AADB has about 291 members.

In comparison, FBCCS has 14k members, granted that not all of them are actors, but even if 10 percent of them are, it makes a 1,178 actor pool. So apart from an experienced talent pool, it could well be a goldmine for discovering new talents and new faces.

Clearly, AADB is outflanked and outgunned by Facebook.  If the current trend persists, AADB will be history in 2 years. If it is any consolation, Facebook has been gaining ground in many fronts among a myriad of other online sites.

If you like to learn more about acting and how to improve your chances at auditions, you may like to read this.

2. Facebook Casting Call Groups  [Updated: 27 May 2018]
Moreover, there are several other groups in Facebook, namely:
Casting Call and Auditions Singapore (17k members)
- Casting Call Singapore (14k members)
Singapore Actor Database (6.8k members)
- Garang Talent Group. (5.2k members)
- Casting Call SG (4.3k members)
Casting Call Student (3k members)
- Official Singapore Casting Call and Auditions (it is not 'official') (1.8k members).

3. Other Casting Call Sites:

I used to use mandy.com. They used to have more casting calls, but the number of calls had somehow dwindled. Recently mandy.com have stopped offering their services for free. So I am not using it anymore.

Castingdb.sg came up briefly last year with profile pages, search functions, and a rating system for cast and production houses. Unfortunately, the site was not well tested and was paralysed by software bugs. It would have otherwise made a good alternative.

There is another site, an onlinecasting.sg, which displays casting calls, profile pages and search functions for producers to converge on the talents they are looking for. At the moment, the casting calls seem to have come out straight from the Facebook groups. But still, kudos for their efforts for coming up with a better site, and moreover a free one to boot.

VIDDSEE.COM [UPDATE [9th Feb 2017)]
They are an Asian short film curator site, has a Casting section now. Click here.

It has only a few casting ads there at the moment, but I think it has a potential to grow with the viewership of their films. At the moment, it allows unpaid gigs to be advertised. Perhaps even becoming a casting place for Asian films or Asian actors.

Yaplat Casting (formerly TALENTPAY ) [UPDATED 10 MAY 2018]
I have found one interesting curated site called TalentPay,  click here. At the moment they are focused on East Asian, Indian and Australian markets.

I think there will be more competition coming up in this space for 'curation'. This is similar to the short film space where curators like Viddsee.com has arisen.

Online casting sites are said to be guilty for the rapid fall in actors' compensation, as it has made casting easier. Consequently, this leads to more videos made, particularly with the fall in camera and LED light prices,. So, the number of productions are expected to increase. It is akin to the unleashing of budget airline fares in the travel industry that led to more people travelling.

The downside of thus trend is that we now get a huge number of candidates with mixed abilities applying for every role advertised. So preliminary selections are still needed and the talent agency will still have a place in the ecosystem. Except now, they will have to offer more added value services to both the production company and the talents. The days of merely playing the middleman and commission collector are numbered.

Curiously,the playing field is now more leveled because of the Internet and social networks. There is even a "Little Black List" Facebook Group, (click here) for those who feel that they are unfairly treated to air the views. Thankfully, it hasn't degraded into anarchy as feared. Curiously, the Internet community does find its own consensus for reasonableness and wisdom. The moral of the story here is not to bully or treat anyone unfairly, for karma is always such a bitch. Karmic backlash on the Internet go viral and magnify in intensity real quick.

So despite the absence of unions, some unfair practices do get resolved,  though, I feel that unions will make such resolutions more systematic. 

The film industry is not the only one disrupted by the onslaught of technologies. See "The Future of Cinema and TV", click here. Many industries from banking to taxis are seeing their businesses turned-on-its-head by the Internet, digital interfaces, social network and smart devices. For more details, click here.

There is no turning back. Resistance is futile. Instead we should all leverage on these technologies to get ahead, For instance, it is now possible to learn acting and film making via the Internet, eg. "200 gigs and 200 lessons", for more click here,

Do you know any casting call sites besides those above that are worthy of mention? Or do you have any suggestions of how we can improve online casting call sites? Feel free to comment below.

Other posts that you may be interested in...

  • To learn about acting and improve your chance of being shortlisted, click here,
  • To learn and adapt to the changing trends of Films, Cinema and TV, click here.
  • Film Reviews, click here.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Bodyguard 2016 - Movie Review

Directed by Sammo Hung

First, the trailer:

Ding Hu, a retired Chinese Central Security Bureau officer suffering from dementia, struggles to protect a little girl from triad vendetta.

Sammo Hung plays the lead role, Ding, very believably, as the overweight and deceptively sluggish retired officer. Ding goes through his day in his usual routine, only punctuated by a little girl who sneaks into his house for sanctuary whenever she has a quarrel with her dad. The relationship is likened to be one between a grandpa and granddaughter, and hence the Chinese title which translates to something like, "Special Agent Grandpa".

Though overweight and old, Ding springs into astonishing agility as he defeats the gangsters in brutal knife attacks and gang clashes. This was delivered with extremely elegant action choreography and camera work, using extensive mid shots to bridge the rapid actions.

It is said that Jackie Chan was supposed to play the role of Ding, but at that time was too busy attending to his son's brush with the law for drug abuse. While I think Jackie would have delivered the action sequence well, I feel that Sammo has given the character the added vulnerability of an old man who has lost his hope in life and resigned to witnessing his own memory eroding away.

The main location was shot in Suifenhe, a riverside trading town in Heilongjiang, along the border of Russia and China; with some scenes shot in Vladivostok. The exoticism of the small town (population around 100,000) was adequately captured with the many beautiful aerial and crane shots.

The granddaughter Cherry, is brilliantly played by a lively 13-year old Jacqueline Chan, who despite her young age, has already appeared in seven other feature films. In the story, Cherry breaks Ding's mundane life and brings joy to him by sneaking into his house, chatting with him, and taking those long walks and fishing excursions - what many grandfathers can easily relate to.

There are several big names of the past making their cameo appearances, like Karl Mak, Shek Tin and Tsui Hark, who play the role of the three old men by the railway station watching the world pass by amid their idle banter. That not out of place at all if shown in a British skit like The Benny Hill Show, had they spoken English.

There are also newer big names, like Eddie Peng, providing eye-candy to the female fans and younger crowd. I suppose big names do boost box-offices, though I think just the engaging plot, touching moments and the great delivery by the lead actors are more than  enough to hold the audience for the entire length of the film. The producers, among them, Andy Lau, probably thinks it is no harm playing it safer adding those big names. Why not, when you can afford them?

The Bodyguard combines both drama and action, amid the exotic northern border cultures of Russia and China. The story eventually wraps up very cleanly with all the bad guys killed in gang clashes or arrested by the dutiful and efficient Chinese police force. That probably to appease the Chinese authorities to allow them to produce a movie with the background of organised crime.

It is said that dementia hits those who have such deep sorrows in their life that they strive to forget. This appears to be the case for Ding with the several milestones in his life that he would rather had happened differently. This is some food for thought.

This movie is both entertaining and inspiring. The inspiring part is a surprise coming from an action movie. It is also a reminder to some in the audience who ought to be choosing the healthier route of letting go of the past and to start living again.

For my other film reviews, click here.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Stranger Times

Stranger Times? Strange? Or is it time travel?
Have you ever wondered how some things can appear to be such coincidence?

A fun one day shoot with Amy Yan and Christopher Yong, by Kranji Reservoir, Singapore sometime during September 2015.

Story written and directed by Arvind Jay. A Ngee Ann Polytechnic Production.
It was also like having a nice day in the park. :)

For other productions I have acted with the Ngee Ann Poly bunch, click here.

For other productions I have acted with Amy Yan, click here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Please Be Strong

"Please Be Strong" is based on a true story - the director's  - dedicated to her father to encourage him to strive on so that the doctors can help him to recover from a car accident.

In the story, the lead character is a father who falls into a coma after a car accident. Much of the film depicts his 'inner world', cleverly represented by tunnels, rooms, colours, what he hears and what he touches, to encourage him to make the decision to live-on and break out of coma.

Tang Wei, the director, says that she prefers to make films that carry a strong message, so that it makes all the precious time and resources spent worthwhile. This is now my motto for film making too. That is, to make films that inspire and entertain.

"Please Be Strong" is a sincere story written from the heart, that I believe will gather a strong audience, especially those experiencing similar journeys.

Watch this space for the video, when it is ready for online release. AKAN DATANG (coming soon).

Trivia: This is also the second screen marriage I have had in the last four weeks. The other one was in another short film called, "Palace of Love", where I played an awkward, but kind and loving middle-aged man who marries a Vietnamese bride. More of that later.

There is also another short film, called "Dinner", written by a director, also dedicated to her father, about a father-daughter relationship. It is a Mandarin film, which is written and directed by an Indian girl.