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Name: StarCast Auditions
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Quick Pitch: Actors can be noticed by top producers without leaving their house.
Genius Idea: Submit online auditions and top casting directors will evaluate and give feedback on actors' performance. In addition, the best performances will be promoted on StarCast's website so Hollywood can easily discover new, young talent.
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Gary Beer wants to help undiscovered performers be recognized just like he did when he had a hand in creating the Sundance Film Festival in 1985, revolutionizing the independent film industry.
The former founding CEO of Robert Redford's Sundance Group has started a new venture he believes will help young talent land jobs and gain feedback from the industry's top professionals. In late 2011, Beer joined forces with Showtime and Viacom founder Jules Haimovitz and former Polygram TV COO David Hope to launch StarCast Auditions, an online platform that helps up-and-coming actors show off their talent and network with industry professionals.
The trio was inspired to start the site after discussing the difficulties of discovering legitimate talent. Talent agents don't have time to search YouTube for the next greatest actor, so that's where StarCast comes in. Reviewers who have cast and worked with household names such as George Clooney, Orlando Bloom and Anne Hathaway weed through the online talent and select the best.
"Basically there was nothing other than standing in line for an open call that would give people the opportunity to be seen," Beer said. "We set out to build a new kind of platform with the idea that professional casting directors could look at."
Scripts are posted on StarCast every two weeks. Aspiring actors choose a script, then self-record and upload a video of themselves performing. Top casting directors watch all of the videos and give each person an evaluation.
Reviewers pick the best performances based on the entries submitted. Then, the best performers are featured on StarCast's website, giving the winners exposure to casting directors, talent agents, mangers and producers. So far, no one has landed a big movie or TV role, but StarCast executives believe it's only a matter of time before someone does.
Beer said the site doesn't have any direct competition -- all of the other acting sites provide listing services, but no online evaluation.
"We are helping provide fresh faces," Beer said. "StarCast may eliminate the need for open-call auditions for minor roles, but it will more likely be supplemental to the casting call rather than a replacement."
More than 3,200 users have signed up to post auditions to StarCast since it launched in December. StarCast has a large following on social media as well, withmore than 20,000 Likes on Facebook and nearly 20,000 Twitter followers. StarCast is free to users while it's still in beta. Once it is out of beta, users will pay $10 to $15 to submit a video.
Check out some of the talent that has been recognized for best performances on StarCast.
Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark
The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.
This story originally published on Mashable here.