IMDb Part 1: The Basics and Starmeter

Feb 3, 2010 by     23 Comments    Posted under: Marketing, Resources, The business, Thousands of Stories

WTF is up with IMDb

Ahh, ye olde Internet Movie Database. If you don’t know what it is, then I’m very impressed that you’re reading this blog from a cave. In this (now) 4-part series I will tell you what (I think) you need to know…

Who Uses It

The general film-and-tv-watching public (read: fans) typically knows that IMDb is the standard for looking up actors’ work.

In the industry, my theory is that actors are actually the primary users of it, followed by casting directors, then agents, then everyone else. I’ve heard numerous stories of casting directors looking up an actor’s IMDb profile within seconds of receiving a submission, or while on the phone with an agent who is pitching said actor.

What it Means

Honestly, a film on your resume that isn’t on IMDb doesn’t mean much. Because you have to go through some (very minimal…see part 2) effort to get a project listed on IMDb, there is a certain legitimacy that comes with having projects listed on IMDb. It’s not the be all end all, but let’s just say that the more things you have on IMDb the better.

IMDb Pro

If you’re an actor and you haven’t signed up for IMDb Pro you should be ashamed of yourself. The name of this game is research, and IMDb Pro allows you to do just that. You can view budgets of movies, what agencies actors are with, contact information for people, starmeters, and the like.

Note: If you are a SAG member you can go to, sign in, go to Member Services > Deals & Discounts > Media Subscriptions and get a 30% (I believe) discount.

What the Heck is a Starmeter and Why Did my Popularity drop 472%?!?

Here is IMDb’s explanation of the Starmeter, but basically it’s a measure of how many hits you get. A veritable (rather arbitrary) online popularity contest.

How to Raise Your Starmeter

  1. Get people to click on your IMDb profile (post the link on your Facebook or Twitter profiles, have it in your email signature, etc.)
  2. Get people to comment on your IMDb profile in the “Message Boards” section (this is worth much more than a simple click)
  3. Be in more things that get listed on IMDb
  4. Be in popular movies. The more popular the projects are that you’re in, the higher you get rated
  5. Get mentioned in news articles, social media outlets, and television guides
  6. Be the star in a once-every-ten-years-movies-like-this-are-crazy-popular movie like Paranormal Activity. (The actress in that movie was ranked #1 on starmeter the week it blew up.)
  7. Sleep with a celebrity. This will probably accomplish 1 and 2 above, and will give you the added bonus of caring less about your starmeter because you’re now getting freaky with Johnny Depp.

What do the Numbers Mean?

In short, nothing. Again, it’s a rather arbitrary measure of popularity. However, I know a number of casting directors who put actors’ IMDb starmeter ranking in their pitches to producers and such on what actors to get. Agents also look at it sometimes to get a sense of how bankable you are. Remember, the more popular you are, the more money people can make off of you. 🙂

To give you some (very unscientific) bars, here are my observations on different “levels” of starmeter rankings:

  • 1,000,000 or below: Was probably in a family video that somehow made it on IMDb.
  • 1,000,000 – 200,000: Just another actor
  • 200,000 – 100,000: Just another actor who’s makin’ things happen
  • Less than 100,000: You might still be a waiter, but you probably take time for your career to do things like read this blog post
  • Less than 15,000: This is generally working actor territory
  • Less than 1,000: You’re working. A lot. Good chance you’re repped by one of the big 5 agencies…or are about to be. Alternatively, you were recently on the cover of National Enquirer (see: #6 above)

Again, the number is easily manipulated and pretty random, so please don’t go freaking out about your starmeter. Your time will be much better spent running sides or working on your reel.

Help each other out: Give your friends “a bump” in their starmeter by clicking on their profile or leaving comments. That karma will help you when you ask them to give you a bump when you have a bunch of important agent meetings coming up.

Helpful Tip on Using Starmeter to Find the Right Agency

I would recommend looking up an agency (in IMDb Pro, of course) and comparing the starmeter of their client roster with yours. This is a good initial-first-glance-kinda-unscientific way of seeing if the agency is the proper level for where you are in your career right now. (Note: the more extensive way to do this is go through their client roster and see if their clients are booking mostly co-stars, guest stars, etc.)


The starmeter rankings refresh every Monday. They compare your ranking for the new week with the previous week to determine your “popularity.” Know that your actual ranking is probably more important than your popularity increase or decrease, but also know that if industry-types see a huge jump in your popularity, they might be curious as to why, and want to get in on the action.

Also note that starmeter is often an indication of the online presence an actor has. That’s why you see a lot of higher-up working-actor types with starmeters far below that of some of us youngins, because we have a gajillion friends who will click on our profile if we post it on Facebook.

**Want more IMDb awesomeness?**
Part 2 in this series tells you how to get a movie listed on IMDb
Part 3 discusses how to manage your IMDb profile
Part 4 in this series explains recent updates to IMDb like your Bacon Number

If you gained anything from this post, please give my starmeter a bump by visiting If you gained a LOT from this post, or just want to make feel better for not being nominated for prom king in high school, then leave a comment on my IMDb profile. 🙂

Ben Whitehair is the Los Angeles contingent of this blog. Find out more information and view his materials on his website, or read the rest of his blog posts.