Welcome Back!

Dear UBC Participants,

I'm thrilled to announce that after a year and half of being offline, User Based Casting is back!

I took the original, Ning-hosted User Based Casting website offline in February 2014. Over these past few weeks, I have re-created as much of our old site as possible on Blogspot so that UBC can once again help young actors and actresses improve their craft through peer feedback. (If you're a returning member and would like an overview of what's changed, please visit the FAQ page.) Although there are no immediate plans to hold new Voting Cycles, my hope is that this new version of the User Based Casting site will once again facilitate critique swaps between aspiring young actors who're passionate about upcoming YA book-to-film-adaptations.

  • To participate going forward, you will need to create a blog or website and upload your videos through a service such as Youtube, Vimeo, or even Facebook. (Be sure to tag your videos correctly so that other UBC participants can find them—see this page for instructions!)
  • Although you're welcome to ask for feedback through Youtube directly, I would suggest using the "link-only" privacy setting for monologues and publishing your videos as blog posts.

  • Be sure to check out the new User Based Casting Critique Station! Share your latest videos, swap critiques, and plan collaborations using our new chat room. (It even supports embedded videos—huzzah!)
  • Your content from the original User Based Casting is not accessible and will be permanently deleted within the next 30 days.

To get started, please visit the Participate page. Welcome back!!!

Why UBC Is Still Closed Indefinitely

One of the questions I received as part of the UBC Q&A video that never came to fruition was this:

"Are you excited to unveil the new website?"

When I arrived at this question while filming, the answer that came out of my mouth completely changed my perspective.

I was not excited about unveiling the "new" site. In fact, I was dreading it.

It took me about a month to fully understand why I felt that way, and what I discovered is that it wasn't just one particular issue that was bothering me; it was a whole batch of inherent complications that I continually refused to acknowledge. I had to finally admit to myself that I was, to put it plainly, smearing lipstick on a pig. What I thought would be a from-the-ground-up fix for UBC's problem still did not take into account faults buried way beneath the metaphorical surface.

User Based Casting has no monetary potential. This is by far the most grating detail I've had to deal with because it means that the site isn't sustainable. Not only does UBC not pay for itself, it's actually something I PAY to do work for on a yearly basis. What I didn't consider going into the overhaul is that while my commitment and productivity would certainly increase, the site's potential and ability to pull in revenue would not.

For those of you who don't already know, I'm actually getting married next month. We're doing everything we can to find stable work that will allow us to save up for a house/provide for future children, and that means…well, it means that I actually have to make some money. The time commitment the UBC overhaul would involve for the foreseeable future was comparable to a part-time (possibly full-time) job for which I would never be paid. I'm sure you can see why this is a problem.

I can't work for free and I can't pay to work. I would hate to ask that of you and I hope you would not ask that of me. The level of work required to run UBC up until now was, while substantial at times, sustainable through high school and college—unfortunately, it just wasn't enough to make the site a success.

I tried to fight my strengths and weaknesses with this overhaul. I thought that I could force myself to do things that cause me distress; consistent social networking, reaching out to professionals in a field I know little about, the kinds of things that give me really shitty anxiety issues. I finally had to ask myself: why force what isn't there? Why should I make myself do things that I don't enjoy doing when I'm not even getting paid to do them? It would be one thing if the UBC overhaul consisted of changes I found personally exciting; instead, it's full of stuff that makes me depressed just from the thought of having to deal with it for years and years to come.

Also, I'm not an actress. I know little about the industry and I don't have any connections (or the savvy to make them) within the industry.  I used to think that I could one day charge Casting Directors for hosting Voting Cycles on UBC, but that was completely unrealistic. What I do has little value because I lack insight and expertise (and let's face it, interest) in the intricacies of casting. I wasn't the ideal person to have created this website for these reasons, and it's our non-existent progress that really confirms that my shortage of acting industry know-how is a problem.

I'm also not sure that YA adaptations are at a stable enough place in the market to adopt, even in part, a User Based Casting process. No one's willing to take a risk this early in the game; that's why we're seeing Chloe Mortez in If I Stay and The 5th Wave as well as Shailene/Ansel in both Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars. Directors are playing it safe, and I can't blame them. Perhaps the industry just isn't ready for us yet…

It's bothered me from the start that we had so many members, yet so few who participated regularly--less than 1% of our total membership, in fact. That's absolutely terrible; a clear indication that I was doing things wrong. What perhaps bothered me even more was that when I first took the site offline in February, I heard very little from most of you; particularly from our Finalists. These are the faces of our website, the people that potentially had the most to gain…and it felt as if they had already moved on. Actually, it felt like 99.8% of you had moved on. I don't say this to place blame on those who didn't react to UBC going offline; I merely want to point out how indicative these numbers are of UBC being past its time. If there was still some value to the site that was worth fighting for, I know more of you would have fought for it. 

I don't know what will happen next. I feel like we've worked too hard on the site to let it close down completely. If I can find an angle that requires less work on my part, I might be able to one day bring it back.

I have to be honest, though: I do think it's probably time to bring User Based Casting to a close. It had its time and at this point, it feels like I'm clinging to a whisper of potential that isn't actually there.

I want to thank you all for supporting UBC's wonderful 4.5 years online. I hope the experience was unforgettable and that you can look back on it as having made a positive contribution to your life. 

Updates and Clarification

Hi, everyone! I just wanted to give you guys an update since I haven't written anything here in a while. I also want to clarify a few things...


  • I'm more optimistic about a May re-opening date than I am about April. That will mean that we'll only have one VC per book this year. Sorry, guys!
  • The Fifth Wave was going to be one of the five new BTFAs—unfortunately, it was announced just a few days ago that the lead roles have been cast. (ARGH!)
  • Uglies is in advanced negotiations to become a TV show.


  • Almost all of you are referring to what I'm working on as a "new" site...but it's not. It's the same Ning network we've always had with a slightly altered appearance. The main changes I'm making are to our policies, voting schedule, BTFAs, the overall "polish" of our pages, and PR strategies.
  • Aside from a few old groups, none of your content has been deleted.
  • It's probably not the epic overhaul that you think it is. Please don't get your hopes too high—like I said, it's more about changing the content and policies than the design/underlying structure!

I'll be honest: these last couple of weeks have been tough. There are many days where I feel like UBC has run its course and that it's time to let it go. I've been enjoying not having to worry about the site and being able to go for long stretches of time without the internet. I started off strong at the beginning of my overhaul efforts, but I'm getting discouraged by how so few members have expressed any discontentment/sadness about the site going offline. (The implications of that worry me.) What also worries me is that I'm committing myself to a full-time, unpaid job—hell, I actually have to PAY to do it. This was fine when I was in high school and college, but it isn't going to work now because, well, money. I needs it for rent and stuff.

Basically, I'm re-assessing what I can realistically do to make UBC not suck while being able to work and have a life. There are definitely ways for me to simplify routine things I'll need to do to promote Voting Cycles, and that's the kind of stuff I need more time to develop. (By creating templates for everything in advance—particularly stuff like emails, pre-formatted posts for bloggers, Finalist videos, and promotional graphics—I'll be saving my future self's ass! It's just a ton of work up-front.)

Hang in there, people. I'm sure I'll figure it out.

A Brief Pause

Hey, everyone! I'm spending a week in California and don't anticipate being able to put in much work on UBC while I'm here. I'm doing what I can to ensure an April re-launch, but there's a chance that I will need more time and that our first Voting Cycle won't take place until July. (If that's the case, I'll swap Uglies with Monument 14 in light of the TV show news.)

Take care!



Here's a demonstration of why it's taking me so long to put the site back up.

Like with most things, web design is a process.  It takes a lot of epic fails to get anywhere.

Here are just a few of my failures from yesterday and today. (I just wish I would have taken more pictures—there were so many more color/placement fails that will forever go undocumented!)

In a later post, I'll be sure to show you guys what all of this looks like behind the scenes. It totally does not involve me sitting at my desk typing away at teh codez and singing to myself...

The "before" shots.

After copying everything over to the slightly improved template I built earlier...






Why the hell not?

Ok, so this mess is me dumping some options on the page—a large drop-down menu, a table, and a list. Hated them all. Next!

 After spending some time learning how to code them/fixing my numerous mistakes, a wild mini drop-down menu appears!

But wait, does THIS style look better?

LOL NOPE. (You can't tell here because I had only prepared two of them at this point, but the drop-down menus were uneven and gross and no.)

This is also the point where I realize that this purple is too similar to the purple in use on the GONE page, so that had to go. Cue me testing out numerous shades of blue...

Here's me testing out left/right placements and realizing, oh hey, let's try moving ALL the buttons to the left like I should have done 38509345 hours ago so that they'll be even and stuff!




I'm realizing that these pictures don't come close to exposing the full extent of my torture. Expect that second post soon.

Aaaand now I get to implement this new Runners-Up format on eight more pages.

The Infernal Devices RQs

To give you guys a head start before the site re-opens, I now present to you...TID Required Monologues for our May Voting Cycle! (I'll also be posting these on Facebook and Tumblr later today.)


TID: Tessa: "Perfectly Harmless" — Chapter Sixteen, 350-352 (Begin "Nate...", end "...no place for us in New York, Nate.")
TID: Tessa: "I Won't Do It" — Chapter Nineteen, 435-437 (Begin "I don't want it," end "...knife through my heart.")

Tags: tessaTID, TID


TID: Jessamine: "This Was My House" — Chapter Six, 152-154 (Begin "This was my house")
TID: Jessamine: "Too Handsome to Die" — Chapter Thirteen, 299-300

Tags: jessamineTID, TID

TID: Sophie: "Fit To Be Seen" — Chapter Five, 111-112
TID: Sophie: "All Sorts of Things" — Chapter Seven, 156-157

Tags: sophieTID, TID


TID: Will: "Pyxis" — Chapter Four, 85-87 (Begin "Good evening, Thomas," end "...doesn't like to see her work too hard.")
TID: Will: "If You Must Know" — Chapter Five, 106-108 (Begin "Singing the praises," end "...I'll have to befriend Jessamine.")

Tags: willTID, TID

TID: Jem: "Someone He Trusted" — Chapter Thirteen, 304 (Begin "What Will is trying to say," end "...brother might know.")
TID: Jem: "He's So Stubborn" — Chapter Fifteen, 338-340 (Begin "He's so stubborn," end "...how they were so weak.")

Tags: jemTID, TID

Moar Updates

Hey, guys! Just wanted to let you know that I've been working on UBC-related stuff pretty much non-stop over the last few days. In that time, I did things like deleting 200 inactive pages (!!!), updating our forum categories, purging inactive groups, creating new groups, updating our Event calendar,—

*doorbell rings, books just arrived!*

—setting up a contest page, immediately redoing said contest page with Twitter bootstrap because it looks better, updating our Participate/User Agreement/Vote pages, and even came close to finalizing the The Infernal Devices RQs.

I'll admit that doesn't sound like much given the time I've put in, but let me tell you something—creating informative pages is a process. What information is relevant? How should I phrase the information? In which order should I present the information in each tab? Am I maintaining a pleasing aesthetic in each tab? Where can I make cuts so that the information appears balanced on the page? Are the tab titles appropriate and informative? Is the progression of information from tab to tab logical? Have I provided enough information? Are there any redundancies or contradictions in my copy?  Is my copy well-written/strong enough to represent both myself and this site?

It takes me HOURS to get all of that stuff somewhat right.

Add in doing all of this with HTML/Twitter Bootstrap and you have yourself a project. ;-)

(I sure as hell couldn't have done this five years ago! Maybe I'll stop using break tags after paragraphs and use CSS instead someday. Heh. Right. ETA: Just noticed a small but non-harmful mistake in the source code. Just thought I'd say that before someone calls me out on it...)

As with the pages, most of the changes I'm making require some trial and error. I don't get it right on the first try (or, in the case of one particular design element, twenty-eight tries), which is why all of this is taking so much time.

Anyway, thanks again for being patient. Now that I have books to work with, things can really start progressing. Wish me luck!