Solving the mystery of your IMDb Rank, the number rumoured to matter to agents, casting directors & producers.
Although only fifteen years old and arguably biased toward Hollywood, Western-made, and English-language films, the International Movie Database (IMDb), now owned by Amazon, is the only truly international film & TV industry catalog in existence and a tool that, in my opinion, the International Actor cannot live without.
I first discovered I existed on IMDb a few years ago when I searched for myself and found I was listed as an actress from a TV movie I did as a teenager, and as a director from a documentary I made in my twenties. As IMDb only documents performances of the recorded sort, the vast amount of theatre I had done in the meantime was, of course, entirely absent. Also absent were student films or bit parts in larger films and television I had acted in some years ago, as IMDb was not the recognized pathway to film legitimacy that it is today. I felt simultaneously validated as an actor existing in its database, and misrepresented in terms of my experience. As I began the long process of taking control of my IMDb profile (renowned for its slow and user-unfriendly process), I was fascinated by a particular aspect of my profile-- my ‘Starmeter’-- over which I had no control, and which seemed to jump and drop dramatically without any rhyme or reason. I was curious, and wanted to do some research. Ultimately, I wanted to know what it meant and whether it mattered.
IMDb defines its Starmeter as “represent[ing] what people are interested in, based not on small statistical samplings, but on the actual behavior of millions of IMDb users.” They are quick to point out that this ranking does not mean something or someone is ‘good’ only that there is a high level of public awareness about them. “The primary measure is who and what people are looking at on IMDb...[from] more than 200 million unique monthly visitors.” 2 years ago, IMDb internalized its tabulation of the Starmeter ranking and now uses a secret algorithm which is ostensibly affected by:
- Number of credits listed on IMDb
- Popularity of your projects listed on IMDb
- Number of pageviews (clicks to) on your public profile
- Number of comments on the “message boards” of your profile (worth more than clicks to).
So what can you do about it? As you can see above, not a lot, but a little.
You can do your best to make sure your profile is comprehensively represented and up to date (i.e., all your film & TV work is listed on IMDb, add your photo, reel, bio, media articles, etc). You can do your best to increase clicks and comments on your page (e.g., add your IMDb profile to your email signature and website to encourage more clicks). Starmeter rankings refresh every Monday by the way. Sites like Karmalicity are moving communities of actors to click for each other in movements called ‘Karmic Publicity’. I have not tried this, but the site is free and unaffiliated with IMDb or any social networking site, and I would be interested to hear from someone who has. Be aware however, that IMDb claims to work to thwart this sort of skewing of results, and in particular beware of offers to lower or restore your Starmeter ranking for a fee, they are almost certainly a scam.
Or you can decide not to care. Many reputable magazines and industry people maintain that it means nothing. It's a very clever marketing ploy actually, as actors, motivated to get the Starmeter rank higher, do the work of marketing and getting new users and clicks to the IMDb site for them. I myself remain ambivalent about my Starmeter ranking. Don’t get crazy about it. Like the stock market, your weight, etc. it will fluctuate, and that’s ok. You haven’t changed:-)
I have listed my source information for this article below. If you found this post interesting or helpful, I’d love you to give my IMDb profile a click, or if it was really helpful, leave a comment on my IMDb message boards. Thanks so much:-) I'd also love to hear any questions or comments you have on this post below.
- IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/help/show_leaf?prowhatisstarmeter
- Backstage Online: http://www.backstage.com/advice-for-actors/secret-agent-man/why-imdb-starmeter-rating-isnt-getting-you-auditions/
- Still Acting After All These Years (Blog, Tommy G. Kendrick): http://txactor.com/2011/06/01/how-to-boost-your-imdb-starmeter-ranking.html
- Playbills vs Paying Bills (Blog, Ben Whitehair): http://www.playbillsvspayingbills.com/marketing/imdb-part-1-the-basics-and-starmeter/
- Brains of Minerva (Blog, Claire Winters & Sarah Sido): http://www.brainsofminerva.com/2010/11/04/acting/imdb-the-basics-the-starmeter-and-how-to-get-listed/
- Herald de Paris: http://www.heralddeparis.com/imdbamazon-starmeter-involved-in-meter-rigging-a-year-long-investigation-reveals/231533
- Meridith Prunty (Blog): https://meredithprunty.wordpress.com/2011/07/27/my-starmeter-and-what-does-it-mean/
- Karmalicity: https://www.karmalicity.com/