The Myth of the STARmeter…

Hey there, aspiring actors!  Here’s a nifty-difty guaranteed way to increase your perception in the industry!  For a low price of $199.95 (etc.), we can guarantee to boost your IMDB STARmeter!  Everyone knows that top casting offices look at your STARmeter as their primary source of who’s good enough to audition!  Why, you don’t even need to have that many credits to get within the top 25,000 in Hollywood!

(The above paragraph is best read through an old-timey megaphone while wearing your best ringmaster outfit and simultaneously playing the flim-flam with a set of spoons.  )

Those of us professionals who’ve been at this for some time is well aware of the IMDB STARmeter.  For those readers who aren’t in the know, the STARmeter is this gimmick which ranks Hollywood professionals according to their awareness in the industry.  In order to fall within the top 10 or even 100, you have to be a pretty big star.  The reason for this is that those stars are constantly having articles, reviews, talk show appearances, trade mentions, etc., so the more that’s published on you, the higher that you’ll end up ranking.

Case in point, for several consecutive weeks in 2013, Jennifer Lawrence was at #1.  Between her SAG Award and Oscar win, plus production on the Hunger Games sequel, J-Law was popping up all over the place in the media.  That’s how you boost your STARmeter, by getting bona-fide publicity.

If you’re an actor who’s been lucky to have been cast in a memorable role in a classic movie, you’re guaranteed to have an awesome STARmeter ranking for practically the rest of your life.  The reason for that is that every time someone searches the movie you’re in, it adds to your ranking.  Whenever they click on your IMDB page, that works too.

Now there are a bunch of folks who have figured out that this is a great way to manipulate your STARmeter ranking.  By forming groups who click on each other’s page, it will boost the STARmeter numbers from a 6 or 7 digit ranking, (ie: 1,000,000s to 100,000s) to a 5 digit ranking (that usually only goes as high as 30,000).  The lower the number, the better.

If you’re a subscriber to IMDB pro, then you have access to view everyone’s numbers on their STARmeter. This gimmick has resulted in this century’s version of putting extra work as “featured” on your resume– the STARmeter manipulation.

Why would an actor want to artificially boost their STARmeter?  Well, there’s this erroneous perception that agents and casting directors only want to work with high ranking STARmeter actors.  When an actor isn’t getting auditions, or work, they make up all these cockamamie ideas as to why they can’t get arrested in this town.  It used to be the old BS of “well, your headshots are lithos, and CDs only want photo prints”, or “you’re not SAG eligible yet, if you were in the union, you could get called in on the top projects”.  Yada yada yada, blah blah blah…

So now, there’s a whole new generation of actors who think they can skip paying their dues by cooking the numbers on STARmeter.  Guess what?  IT DOESN’T WORK.  Sure, your numbers will improve, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to get called in for the next Star Wars movie.

You can spot these actors a light year away.  They’re the ones with 3 credits on their page in short films with no distribution, but their STARmeter is up to 25K.  Compare them to legit actors who’ve done multiple films, TV, etc. credits over a couple of decades with a lower ranking STARmeter.  Who do you think is going to get more opportunity to work?  If you take two actors of the same physicality,  age range, and same level of agent, but one has a STARmeter of 38,000 and two credits in no-name shorts, and the other actor has a STARmeter of 198,000 and has had guest spots on several series, plus small roles in studio films, which one do you think that casting directors are going to call for an audition?

On the other side of the audition table are the buyers.  The casting director is like the middleman between the producers (buyers) and the talent (product).  Even a low budget movie has several thousands of dollars being put up as risk.  Casting directors, producers, and directors want to work with professional actors who can nail the role, show up on time, get along with everyone on set, and who are a pleasure to work with.  The more experience you have, the easier it is to find work (relatively speaking).

Instead of spending your money and time on the next big acting scam, try booking work instead.  Short films, student films and industrials are great ways to practice your craft, while getting valuable footage for your reel, which will help get you to the next level.  Once you’ve got a full resume, you can then spend your time and effort on working in productions that are challenging, or higher quality.  You want to work with ambitious filmmakers who are themselves building a career, because those are the folks you will want to have a professional relationship with in the future.

Look at the great Hollywood working relationships.  From John Ford and John Wayne to Martin Scorcese and Robert De Niro and even Judd Apatow and his “conservatory” of actors he always seems to cast in his films.  That’s where you want to focus your energy.  Don’t worry about the STARmeter (the numbers go up and down each week anyway) — if your goal is to have a career, then you need to work.  Can’t have a career without the work!

As actors, there’s very little we have within our control.  For those things that we can control, we should put most of our efforts.  The red carpet will come, trust me.  And you might even get to work with some awesome and amazing up-and-comers!

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