The first place a potential employer will likely visit to check your credits – especially for freelance below-the-line gigs – is IMDb.
Most producers who use the site a lot are likely to be IMDb Pro subscribers. Pro members have access to highly searchable databases of projects in development and pre-production, as well as past shows, and different layouts, as well as the ability to add images and contact information to their own and their company listings.
The site is an increasingly great resource for news links and company profiles. It’s worth visiting just to browse. For classic film buffs, it is possible to search by year of release, as well as by genre and keywords, and you can also search for people who worked together. This last was a feature I enjoyed using while I was writing my book. The STARmeter is fun too – a reflection of search volumes for any particular name. Scroll down to find the Industry Resources section on the right. There is even a neat filterable job search feature.
Here are some best practices for having a bright and vibrant IMDb profile.
1/ It starts with your credit on your projects.
Ensure that this is correct and correctly spelled, regardless of the size of the project. People looking at your credits like to see consistency of job title or at least department and a sense of development. Just like other employment in other industries, it is nice to see a rising career of job titles with increasing responsibilities over time. Another thing people like to see is an increase in the type of project. The budget level and positioning in the industry of the production and production company are important for people assessing your work.
2/ See if you need to conform different listings into one.
If you have had a name change, or credits have been misspelled, or you have changed department, there is a chance that your credits might be dispersed across several listing entries. It might read as YOUR NAME (I) and YOUR NAME (II) or even more – but it is the same person. IMDb has a process for bringing these together. Keep your call sheets and deal memo to prove this. There is also a process for correcting errors, as you see them.
In my own experience, it is difficult to have a credit removed if it is included in the official credits of a project. I have a credit from a project that I did not ultimately work on, although I did work on an earlier iteration of the movie when unfortunately the production collapsed prior to principal photography. Evidently they were able to refinance and get the script shot some years later, and I was still credited – despite doing no work for it. I don’t know why.
You will also need your call sheets/deal memo to add your name to projects if you have been left off the credits. Make sure the value of the project and your job title justifies inclusion on your list.
3/ Consider your professional name.
Stage names are not just for actors. If you have a very common name, you have a recipe for confusion. You might need to include your middle initial, or middle name, or use a nickname as your credit of record. The underlying principle is that you want to make it easy for your potential boss to find you without confusion. But stay consistent!
4/ Consider the “vanity” URL and resume on IMDb.
You will see these sometimes with the small disclaimer from them “credits not confirmed by IMDb”. But this is still useful if you have a lot of credits from projects or positions that are not part of IMDb. For example, the VP of Production (and similar executive titles) of a company may not be listed within a film’s credits, even thought they had a huge input to the creative process. You may be a ways off from this situation, but still. IMDb also does not show commercials, industrials or all web series which may make up some of your work experience. It’s just nice to have a place to put your additional credits.
5/ Include an up-to-date industry focused bio and nice headshot.
Note to self: check my bio and update if needed.
IMDb has changed the requirements for posting projects in recent years, probably to diminish the number of half-finished student-level projects cluttering up the site. This is just my best guess.
As you rise in your career, be cautious of having too many “Special Thanks” on micro-budget shorts or student films. Your credits properly appear in chronological order, regardless of how they are initially categorized (by type by default in Pro and by job title/department in the public version), so sometimes people have to scroll through some junk to find the real credits. This is another reason to consider the vanity URL.
Just because IMDb is a great resource, for you and for employers, does not mean it replaces your own website to display your credits and portfolio. I still recommend not including the link on your resume, unless you have no site or it is specifically requested – because the one thing you can be sure of is that all your competition for the gig are on IMDb too. Like LinkedIN, it is a great place to browse and get lost in, following links down the rabbit hole. Your hope is that the hirer is already interested in you, and that is why they search your name on IMDb just to confirm.