While Jane is correct in that the IMDB can be a useful tool in publicity, one should also be aware of the inherent problems with the system, and there are many. If you’re using it as a research to obtain past credits for an actor or filmmaker, do not take what the IMDB lists as the absolute be all and end all.
Here’s the problem. In the same way that Jane suggests that anyone can use the service to list their project, the thing is that ANYONE can use the service. Many is the time I’ve checked the listing of a film I’m working on to find someone or many someones have added their own names, credits, etc. While I have no problem with them getting the credit for work done, they can also add cast members, change character names and cause general havoc with great ease. On more than one occasion, I’ve found actors listed in the cast of my films that have never even been considered for the project, much less appearing in it.
In addition to names appearing out of someone’s fevered imagination, projects that have never gone past the “hey…how about this?” stage, are now part of a person’s past.
Case in point: Years ago, I was working with a very talented actor by the name of Jonathan Silverman. Jonathan had starred in (among many, many other things), a hit series called “The Single Guy,” which ran for a few seasons. During the course of our film, I went to the IMDB to check Jonathan’s credits and found an entry for a project (listed as ‘in pre-production’) called “The Married Guy.” Back on the set, I made mention of it to Jonathan, who looked at me, smiled and said, “You’re kidding, right?” When I assured him I was not, he laughed and then assured me there was no such project, never had been such a project, and would not be such a project. He graciously accepted my offer to have it removed from the page, and I went through the requisite steps (registering, verifying the information, etc.) It remained there for years.
There’s no one you can call at the IMDB. If you want to make a change, you have to go through the system and it can take weeks, months, years. There is very little, if any quality control or fact checkers to maintain the integrity of the system.
That being said, like the National Enquirer, they’re more often right than wrong. My point is, if you’re using the IMDB as a research tool, don’t accept it all at face value. That’s all.