Forty million people are watching; the silence permeates the ballroom; the envelope is ripped open and the Oscar goes to — wait, hold it there. The Academy Awards are long over. Nevertheless, the audition and decision-making process not only keeps the top echelon of actors on the edge of their seats, but is a constant part of all actors’ lives. Winning an Oscar is the pinnacle of an actor’s career, but where does this long and winding road begin?

The newly developed company StarCast is an online service which hopes to benefit actors and Hollywood professionals. The casting directors assess the actor’s performances that are submitted, and then give the actors specific feedback and notes. They then choose the best performances and promote those actors by contacting Hollywood agencies and managers, providing a means for these professionals to find high-quality actors.

“It’s very difficult to get (into) the business,” said Gary Beer, founding CEO of the Sundance Film Festival and StarCast CEO. “We decided to do something to level the playing field by having top casting directors evaluate aspiring actor’s performances for talent.”

Beer elaborated that if the directors felt the applicants had talent, they would then promote them to a large group of Hollywood film and television producers, talent managers, and agents.

Philip Maxwell, a student in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, was told by his professor to try out for StarCast. After an evaluation process conducted by leading casting directors in their respective fields, he was chosen as best performer. He had submitted a monologue performance previously and was given notes on transitioning from a purely stage actor to one more attuned to performing on the screen. In the second round of auditions, he immediately stood out. He took their feedback, implemented it and, recently, has caught the eyes of several casting directors.

Though there has been some interest for Maxwell, nothing has transpired yet for him or any of the other actors and actresses chosen by StarCast. Beer noted that being represented by an agency is more essential than a minor role on television or film. However, there have been no actors signed by agencies thus far.

Nevertheless, Beer declared that StarCast is an up-and-coming company that is different from other services available.

“We are the only service that guarantees that an actor will be seen, viewed and evaluated by casting directors,” Beer said. “All the others, to my knowledge, are basically listing services where an aspiring actor can establish an account of their headshot, reel and their resume, and in many cases, they get access to general information about auditions. Those are the basic services.”

Hollywood is one of the hardest fields to carve a place for yourself, but with the help of StarCast, that could possibly change for Maxwell and other aspiring actors.

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