Updated: Jan 13, 2022
As actors and artists, we often have to find loopholes and clever ways to manage our budget. I can go into the essential cost of maintaining a personal business as a performer, like getting current headshots ($200-$500), maintaining a professional reel ($100+) paying subscriptions for submission services like Actors Access and LA Casting ($150+/each), travel expenses/gas, or stretching the last paycheck onto the next unpredictable job, but for now we will talk about IMDb.
IMDb is an an essential tool for any working actor. It is one of the first things a casting director will look up and fans will search. That being said, having a photo front and center is essential. It presents you as the professional you are. Presentation makes all the difference, but sometimes reality hits, and as artists we just don't have the extra funds (currently $150.00) lying around for another subscription service. I know many actors will strain their budget that much more just to have a professional photo on the site, but I'm here to help. In 2015, IMDb updated their policies so anyone can add a relevant photo to a film for **free. "But, that's not an Actor page?" you say... Here's where the hack comes in.
Let's connect the dots. When you add a photo to a relevant film for free, without a subscription, IMDb will still consider it for their database, and it can be a picture of you! If you are credited with a more obscure indie film, that is your best bet. Bigger budget films are more likely to be monitored and cleaned of undesired photos. Now that you have clicked on an indie film (wherein you are credited), scroll to photos. You will see a grey box with a "+" symbol that says "add photos," click it. When you begin your upload, IMDb will ask you to specify if the photo is a Poster, Screenshot, Behind the Scenes, etc.. Put some thought into the best fit for the photo you plan to upload. It will still need to be processed by the IMDb team, before it appears on the site. Now, the next step is your GOLDEN TICKET. IMDb will ask who is in the photo. **Only tag yourself. Annnnd, that's it!
A few things about the photo to keep in mind. IMDb will automatically crop your photo into their standard profile photo aspect ratio of about 1:0.675 (general vertical movie poster size). If you have a landscape photo, it will be centered and automatically cropped off both the left and the right to fit. You also need a high quality photo, and one that at least looks like it belongs on that Film page (to pass their submission guidelines). Once the photo has been processed and added to the site, that tag will connect that photo to your Actor page, and you will have a NEW profile photo for **Free. Now, don't get frustrated if this doesn't work right off the bat. This is a sort of loophole that IMDb has been trying to close. If it doesn't work the first time, submit again with a different photo, and perhaps even on a different film. If nothing else works, I have had great luck with finding friends who are IMDb subscribers (or starting a free trial period yourself), and having them follow the instructions above. In fact, that is your best bet. Members photos are prioritized by the IMDb staff for processing.
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