How to get your Child into Modeling and Actingby Jacque, Maier Mgmt
New Article: Teach your Child Responsibility
The Big Question?
The question I get most after being in this business for 30+ years is "How do I get my child started in modeling or commercials?"
If you are in a major market (LA/Miami/Chicago/New
York) it is much easier than if you are in a smaller market.
It is very difficult (if not impossible) to give advice that is relavent to all areas so I will do my best to give some general guidelines.
Let's start with what you DO NOT NEED to do!
1. For children under the age of 5 you do not need professional pictures.
2. No matter what age your child is - you do not need to spend thousands of dollars for classes.
3. You do not need to attend costly conventions to be seen by agents and managers.
Now for what you do need!
1. A good quality headshot of your child. After your child has an agent or manager - you will need to get professional pictures and YOU WILL PAY FOR THESE not the agent or manager!!! In Los Angeles, you can get good quality picture taken for about $200. Printing 300 headshots will cost approximately another $100.
Composites cards are a little more costly - but you can find 100 for $100 -150.
2. If you child is over the age of 4, I strongly recommend a commercial class - here in LA you can find a good one in the price range of $160-200 for 4-6 week classes (1 hr - 1-1/2 hr classes). I cannot stress how important this is as agents and managers do not have time to "train" your child. Your child needs to know how to slate, how to deliver lines into a camera and more! So even if your child is natural ham and the most beautiful (or handsome) child - casting directors will not appreciate it if the child does not take direction!
3. Depending on which state you live in, your child might need a work permit and in California they also need a Coogan Account.
4. You will need a list of agents that represent children. Depending on what state you live in will determine if "agents" can sell classes or not. Here in California agents must be licensed and bonded and cannot make money from anything but commissions from work booked! But in some states, agents can also operate modeling/acting schools. Be very careful of people who say they are agents/managers/talent scouts and then want to sell you something! You can locate agents in your areas by: Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Association of Talent Agents (ATA), the local yellow pages, and many directories that are available on line.
You can find managers: National Conference of Personal Managers (NCOPM), Talent Managers Association (TMA) and again in many directories available.
There are also a new technology that allows you to join "casting websites" where you post your child's
picture(s) and you can submit to local and even national castings. Some of these sites offer lots of information (including work permit information, lists of agents/managers in every state, and much more) and these are the type of site that I recommend as you get information! Be careful of what information is posted on these sites. I recommend those that do not publish any personal information (address/phone) and all contact is via email (for the first contact).
Lastly, there are "consultants" that for a fee will give you all the information that you need and will help you get your child started. Are they worth it? It depends on what they cost and how much time and effort you want to put into doing it yourself!
When I attend conventions I always ask (out of state talent) when they plan on moving to LA and I always get back the same answer -"If I get a good enough offer!" I attend these conventions scouting for new talent and let me dispell a big myth - except for a few huge modeling agencies (high fashion) no one offers "contracts", no one pays for you (or your child) to come to LA or New York, no one pays for your classes or photos - these are all your expenses. We make money when you make money but we do not spend our own money to get you started!!!
One last thought - get started in your local market before even considering relocating to a major market!
I worked in the mid-South many years and had a great career there! Yes, you have to be in LA or New York for most television and national commercials but there is local print and commercial work just about everywhere!
Start in local theatre, local mall fashion shows, local print ads and then think about moving to a bigger market.
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