The Spotlight Podcast: How Our Membership Support Team Can Help You

In this episode of the Spotlight Podcast, we chat to Spotlight's Membership Support Team to get their advice about how to make the most of your membership.

Spotlight's Membership Support team is based in the UK and Ireland and are here to give you advice and reassurance should you ever need it. Whether you have a question about agents, the casting industry or your Spotlight membership, these are the lovely people who can help you.

We caught up with Jamie and Hannah to answer some of the most common queries they receive.

Full transcript below.

Please note that in this episode we discuss the Spotlight link board. Young performer membership does not give you access to the link board so you will be unable to apply for jobs or view the link board. Only your agent can access casting breakdowns. Agents will be responsible for all submissions so they will be in touch with you directly if any audition requests have come through.

All episodes of the Spotlight Podcast.

If you have a topic or question you'd like us to cover in a future podcast episode then please email your ideas to [email protected] or send us a Tweet @spotlightuk

Useful Links

Credits

  • Producer and host: Kristyn Coutts
  • Production: Nicholas Peel
  • Guests: Jamie Sheehan and Hannah Brent

Episode Transcript

Kristyn: Hello and welcome to this episode of The Spotlight Podcast. My name is Kristyn Coutts and I work here at Spotlight. In this episode we're going to be talking about the ins and outs of your spotlight membership with the very lovely Jamie and Hannah from the membership support team. Chances are if you've called us or emailed us with a question, these are the people that you're talking to. So Jamie, do you want to introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background and how you've ended up here at Spotlight?

Jamie: Sure. Well, my name's Jamie. You've actually probably have heard my voice if you've ever called into Spotlight. I manage the support team, we have a lovely group of very passionate and lovely, friendly people who are there to take your call and answer your emails. So I guess a little bit about me. As you can probably hear from my voice, I'm from Limerick in the Southwest of Ireland, I've lived in London almost about four years now. When I moved to London, I actually went to drama school so I do actually have quite a passion and interest in the industry, which is quite helpful. I went to drama school and I did the acting and auditioning for a while, I love being part of the industry, but I felt like the acting career wasn't for me. So I decided to kind of put all of my passions together. Yeah, so I manage the support team. We're quite a small team, but we're always on hand. We're at the frontline of everything. So if anyone ever needs anything, we're there for you.

Kristyn: And Hannah, how did you come to be at Spotlight and tell us a bit about your role.

Hannah: Originally I'm from the Midlands, a small town in Derbyshire just outside of Nottingham. And so I moved to London a number of years ago now, and before then I was working in several theatres in and around the Midlands. So, I'm sort of used to the stage, I used to be a young performer as well. I decided that Spotlight was a great place to come and work here in London. Sort of work with like-minded people as well as dealing with actors and casting directors and agents on a daily basis, as well as parents of young performers as well. Because I to do a lot for the young performer membership and for the parents, sort of dealing with the career advice sessions, organising those as well as workshops and things like that. So, yeah, that's what I do and I absolutely love it.

Kristyn: Great!

Jamie: As a team, we went to see Hannah in a show. So she's also very talented.

Hannah: Yes. Do a bit of singing sometimes. Not on the phones.

Kristyn: What show did you do?

Hannah: It was called Disco Inferno. Yeah.

Kristyn: Okay. We're going to play a little game of ‘get to know you’.

Jamie: Lovely. Okay.

Kristyn: Who would play you in your life story?

Jamie: So, I don't know whether this is just because people have said it to me before, but Matthew Broderick.

Kristyn: Nice!

Hannah: Oh, that's a good one!

Jamie: I just think he's like, I was going to say he was really cool in the 80s but he's still really cool. Yeah, no, I think I'm happy with that.

Hannah: I think you should be.

Jamie: Yeah.

Kristyn: And Hannah, what about you?

Hannah: Oh, well a lot of people tell me that I look like Anne Hathaway, which I think is quite a nice compliment.

Kristyn: That's lovely. And true.

Hannah: We'll go with that. Thank you.

Jamie: I can see that now. Anne Hathaway in the Hannah story.

Hannah: I mean we were just discussing weren't we, what movie title would sum up your life and I said Tangled. So yeah, let's go with that.

Kristyn: And then can you tell us a little bit more about membership support and how you help our members?

Jamie: Sure. So I guess the main things that we do, we're on the frontline by phone and email for any questions that anyone has, whether you be a member or a not quite a member yet. Basically, we bring all of our experience together. So we offer advice on anything really within the industry, how to get on Spotlight, how to find an agent, how to kind of build up your credits, build up your experience. And then also, of course, just as a Spotlight member what we offer, anything to do with your Spotlight profile. Kind of making it as good as possible for potential castings. So that could be advice on headshots, on how you use your CV, how you update your profile. And we also take payments and offer advice on payments and things like that. So pretty much everything got to do with Spotlight, we are there for you. And also any advice about the industry, we are there to help.

Jamie: Our main inbox is [email protected] so if you ever have any question, whether it be about the industry or about your Spotlight profile, you can send an email there. Or of course give us a call. Those are the main two avenues that we help with. But also our team are kind of heavily involved with other projects and other teams. So we kind of step in and out of other things depending on what people are passionate about. Like, Hannah was talking about, she's quite passionate about young performers and so she kind of dwells in and out of projects to help improve the experience for young performers and parents. So we are constantly driving forward to try to improve the experience of our members. We also look at Spotlight applications and training materials for performers. We're always trying to put the best foot forward for our members. So yeah, that's the basis of what we do. I did ramble there a bit.

Kristyn: You're a busy team. And then what would you say are the most common queries that you guys get?

Hannah: Payments is probably a big one. So in terms of your direct debit, how you should go about managing that and things like that. So those sort of technical things. But also, things like where do I find my view pin? So you know if you're wanting to send your CV to a casting director or to an agent, and some people will come to us and ask where they go about doing that. So the ins and outs, the technical aspects of your Spotlight profile is what we get asked the most I should think.

Jamie: Yeah. I guess we should say about payments. So you know first time members, you make an initial payment and if you are a returning or renewing member you do have the option for a direct debit. So anyone in their second year or beyond can choose a direct debit payment method for a 12-month contract. So we can kind of help with that and how that works or if sometimes people have questions on the details of that. And as you say, definitely I think the view pin can be a big one as well. It is on your profile. You can find it by signing in and clicking link to my CV on the left-hand side, you will find it there. Just as a side note. We do get a lot of queries about advice on starting out in the industry.

Kristyn: Do you have any tips that you can share about that?

Hannah: I would say do as much as you can. So one thing in terms of the criteria, sometimes we get people calling in to just say that their application wasn't successful for instance. And so what we see on their application is perhaps a lot of commercials, a lot of short films and that is great. It means that you're actively working towards that criteria and you're building up those credits. And all of those credits, the network that you're building around that is absolutely fantastic. And who knows what's going to come out of that. So keep working is my main advice really. But there's also loads of other stuff that you can do. I mean if you haven't necessarily got representation yet, finding an agent is a great way to start out.

Hannah: And so we've got contacts listings online, which is a free tool. It's an online directory, lots of different industry professionals are on there, including agents and their contact details. So I always sort of steer people in that direction first as well because it's really handy, even if you're starting out or you've been in the industry for quite a number of years. It's an amazing tool to have for free at your fingertips.

Jamie: It can be quite difficult sometimes to find or get agency representation. So if that is the case, I would say, kind of as Hannah said, definitely try to keep doing as much as you can and keep training. And there are places where you can kind of network with other actors, any kind of workshops or classes that you can do is an opportunity to meet other people and you don't know where that's going to lead down the road. A lot of times that does lead to a job if you're going to connect with other actors.

Jamie: The other thing is sometimes it depends on kind of your skills obviously and your passion. We do kind of see a lot of people who create their own work. The other thing I was going to say is, yes, it's definitely good to try to get an agent, to get in contact with different agencies and see if their books are open for someone like you to be a client. But you know on Spotlight as well, if you are an adult performer, we do try to support you as much as possible if you don't have an agent. So on your profile, you would be care of Spotlight, which basically means we would help as much as we can. But basically, we act as a forwarding service between the actor or performer and the casting professional. So if a casting professional finds you on Spotlight, they might get in contact with us to get a message to you.

Hannah: And that's our team.

Jamie: Yeah, our team does that.

Hannah: We will be forwarding on all of those inquiries, which is really lovely. It's one of the loveliest parts of our job actually to forward on opportunities to actors.

Jamie: Yes. We get very excited about that.

Kristyn: From my understanding, you get a lot of fan mail requests as well.

Jamie: Oh yes we do.

Hannah: We do get post.

Jamie: We do kind of get sometimes some post for performers or not non-performers in fact. Just kind of celebrity fan mail that we, I would like to say we cannot send on just so you know.

Kristyn: And then for any new members or anyone thinking about joining Spotlight, can you give a little overview of what the benefits are? Because there's things like discounts and things but people might not necessarily be aware of them. So I just wonder if you could just give an overview.

Jamie: Yeah, I mean, I think the first thing even when I was a performer on Spotlight, I wasn't really aware of a lot of the benefits that you get with your membership. It's not just about being on the platform, which obviously is fantastic and you obviously have a lot of opportunities for jobs and for castings. But actually we provide a lot more than that. So as a member, we do partner with a lot of organizations where you can get discounts and you would see that if you sign in to your account, you can have a look at the discounts page and see what companies we are aligned with.

Jamie: The other big thing I think is our Open House events. So we offer free events to performers and we are increasing these events all the time to try to give as much as we can to each member. They do sell out quite quickly at the moment because demand is quite high. But we are, as I said, trying to increase that because we know it's quite popular. But for people who don't know about that, we do offer these free events. So they might be workshops with tutors, opportunities to perform with or in front of casting professionals, all different types of events really.

Hannah: Different panels which is always really handy. And everyone always comes out of them saying I learnt so much in that panel, which is amazing to hear. That's what we want.

Jamie: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. So I think that's a big thing that I guess the thing to say about that is just make sure as well that you are signed up to receive the events newsletter on your profile. Just have a check in your settings because it does go directly to our members in an email for you to kind of get the details on how to book those sessions.

Hannah: That would be in ‘my privacy’ settings, so on the list, on the left-hand side, on the navigation pane towards the bottom. And you can sign up for things like discount emails as well, but also newsletters, which is another benefit that we have. Whatever membership type you are, you'd receive a tailored newsletter each month with articles and advice and tips, sort of specifically designed for you.

Jamie: Yeah, exactly. And those articles, all that content, it's a really good benefit to have I think for performers because sometimes you feel like you're out in the wilderness and actually we spend a lot of time really producing a lot of content obviously.

Kristyn: Thank you.

Jamie: And that is fantastic and that is really helpful for performers. I mean when I joined Spotlight, that's when I actually started reading all of this stuff and listening to the podcasts, which I think is just an invaluable resource really to performers that they might not be aware of, that we spend so much work doing to try to help our members to make life a bit easier for them, give them more understanding of some parts of the industry that they might not understand. And also just advice on things, on headshots and showreels, how it all works, self-tapes. So we get a lot of queries about those things over the phone and by email. But we actually have a lot of content on the website and that would be emailed in newsletters if you're signed up for them. So just make sure to read those and make sure you're signed up.

Kristyn: And just on that note, if anyone listening does have any ideas about content they think is missing from the website or that they think could make an interesting podcast, do feel free to email [email protected] because that's very much how we generate a lot of the ideas that we use for articles, etc.

So just talking about the open house for a little bit, because I went to a couple of the sessions and I think one of the most interesting things is as well as hearing from industry professionals, which obviously is amazing and insightful, is also the networking opportunities between actors as well. There was quite a lot of people who found like-minded peers. And then at the end of sessions were all exchanging numbers and arranging to meet up.

Hannah: Absolutely, which is why we also sort of send people onto the Actor Centre as well to be able to do a similar sort of thing. Because we know that's so important. You're there, you've got to work as a team almost and talk to two other actors and things like that. And yeah, it's really handy I think for a lot of people.

Jamie: One thing I just thought of to be aware of as well as the Open House events, I just thought it's important to mention that the career advice sessions that we have, because I feel like they're really, really beneficial. And we actually do them every week. We have performer sessions and young performer sessions. You can sign up for these career sessions, these one to one sessions, which are about 20 minutes with one of our experienced advisors. So we have Emma, Ellie and Mel who are all lovely and really, really experienced in the industry and can offer great advice. So I think it's a really other great benefit that we do. They run every week and you can actually have those career advice sessions for free. So they're really beneficial. And I know we have a lot of positive feedback from our members on those.

Hannah: We also have Justin who does that further up North.

Kristyn: So can you give us some details about how a performer's Spotlight account actually works?

Hannah: Absolutely. So the bare bones of it is that you have a Spotlight profile or CV, which is on an online directory that casting directors can then search through. So your CV is made up of a list of your credits as well as attributes like your height, your hair colour, your eye colour, et cetera, your training, but also any skills that you do have as well. Which is incredibly important because when casting directors search the directory, they'll search based on those skills and things like that. But also the experience that you have. So then they'll see all of those CVs or profiles and then be able to contact your agent from there. In terms of your Spotlight profile, you'll be able to manage that on there. We have a CV editing suite so that you can add any skills and credits.

Hannah: And I would always advise keep that up to date. Do have a look maybe every couple of weeks or so. Go into it, see if it needs a bit of a facelift or something like that. But you can also manage things like your photos on your CV, your showreel. You can have an audio reel as well. So those kinds of things you're looking at on your Spotlight account and your profile and editing from there. As well as managing your agent, you can now manage your agency. You can add up to two agencies and your yourself on your account.

Jamie: And also as a care of Spotlight member, if you don't currently have agency representation, you can actually apply for jobs by accessing the link board and seeing what castings are up there. So, this is something I didn't really fully realise when I was a member as well about that being the case. And if you have an agency representation as well, depending on your access, you should be able to have a look at the link board. The link board is basically where castings will be shown, castings will be posted by casting professionals. And depending on your settings you can set up to see things that match your filter, that would match your type of casting. So it's really good to be signed up for emails on those or even just every now and then have a look at the link board, see if there's anything that matches your casting that you might want to be submitted for. And as a care of Spotlight member for those castings, you can submit yourself.

Hannah: I mean if you're getting loads and loads of emails about the jobs that come through, it might be worth having a look at the my tools and settings section. So it's towards the top of the navigation pane on the left of your account because that's where you'll find the settings and your filters. So you can sort of say, I want to see sort of breakdowns, this playing range or are cast in this particular location, those kinds of things. So you sort out all of your settings there. And then you can also say I want to just receive job emails for those breakdowns that are matching those filters that you set up. So that's definitely one thing if you haven't done already, definitely do it.

Jamie: However, if you want to get an email for every single job that comes through, you're welcome to do that as well.

Hannah: Absolutely. And then if you do submit yourself, if you're care of Spotlight, then you can also filter out the link board by just seeing the breakdowns that you've submitted to. And there is a breakdowns with submissions section if you want to remind yourself of what you've submitted yourself for.

Jamie: Yeah.

Kristyn: And finally, is there anything that you'd like members to know?

Jamie: Well, I think if you don't engage too much with not just Spotlight or not just the support team, but with Spotlight in general, you might not be aware of how much we really are passionate about you as a performer. We as a team, what our day is about, is making the experience for the performer better for all of our members and for people who are not members. We just really care about the industry and the experience of the actor and agents and casting directors. But we have experience in the industry. But I guess for myself, obviously having been an actor, I understand the trials and tribulations of what that's like. So we want to bring a kind of positivity to the experience. So if you ever need anything at all, I would just say to our members and non-members, please get in contact. We'd be more than happy to help in any way that we can. We will do our best to help with any advice or any queries.

Hannah: And also we're here to listen as well. Like if you need to give us a call and perhaps give us any feedback or anything like that, we do always pass that on and we always do take it on board and then send it to the sort of relevant people. So you're more than welcome to drop us a quick email with that as well.

Jamie: Yeah, don't worry about giving feedback. We love feedback.

Kristyn: It’s how we learn and grow.

Jamie: Exactly.

Hannah: Exactly.

Jamie: Yeah. So we really want things to be as helpful and as positive for all of the parties on Spotlight. So any feedback is really appreciated. And we genuinely do use that feedback to really try to make a better experience for everybody.

Hannah: And I think sometimes off the back of phone calls, certain people have suggested that certain things like, oh this would be quite cool to do and we've sort of passed that on. It's actually happened. That's really nice to see as well. But also, if you do have a question, just email us or ring us and if we don't know the answer we'll always try to find out or pass you to somewhere that does. So we're always here to help and that's exactly what we're here for and we want to do it. So please give us a call.

Jamie: It's in the job description. Here to help!

Kristyn: Wonderful. Thank you so much Jamie and Hannah, if you have any questions, like Jamie and Hannah and I have been saying frequently, you can email us at [email protected], or you can ask us on Twitter @SpotlightUK or of course you can always give Jamie and his team a call. Thanks so much for listening.

Jamie: Thanks, Kristyn.

Hannah: Thanks.