Child’s Play! Ten Tips Every Parent Should Know About Casting Kids25 Aug 2016, Posted by Casting Tips in
Good morning class! You!… Yes you at the back… I’m talking to you! Sit up straight boy!
Today’s class… err sorry I mean blog… is going to focus on casting children, but rather than passing on advice to our youngest thespians my advice is aimed at parents and guardians.
Casting sessions can be stressful enough for participants, but throw into the mix nervous parents and highly strung kids then you have a stress cocktail more potent than any mixologist could whip up.
I have done a LOT of children’s casting both for drama and commercials and so here is your homework – my top ten stress-busting tips that every loving parent should check out.
1. Vicarious Ambition
No this is not a dodgy one-hit-wonder girl group from the 90’s or the name of a failed Madonna tour – it is something altogether more timeless and sadly altogether more common.
Parents really do need to take a reality check and ask themselves a fundamental question – “does my little love bundle really want to tread the boards or promote washing powder etc, or would they much rather be designing a robot or kicking a football around or even playing computer games.”
I get it, I really do. You loved acting or having your photo taken when you were their age, but maybe you didn’t have parents who were supportive or had the money to fulfil your dreams. Now you have the ability, you want to make sure that your kids have everything you didn’t have. Being supportive and nurturing is indeed what great parenting is all about, but you do need to ascertain whether this is really what THEY want and IS THIS THEIR DREAM or YOURS?
Ask the question of your child and listen VERY CAREFULLY to the answer and how they say it otherwise you are wasting everybody’s time.
2. A Den of Bribery and Corruption
Sadly this is often what casting studios can become. If your child does not want to be at a casting, please do not be the pushy parent and start bribing your child with a McDonalds.
If they do not want to be at the casting the chances are is that they will not want to perform on the shoot. and you will just waste everybody’s time and build up resentment in the fruit of your loins.
3. Say Cheese
Make sure that you have up to date photos of your kids. Nothing is more frustrating (apart from maybe the Sky box failing to record the last episode of this season’s Game of Thrones) than the young talent turning up having just lost some teeth or with a radically different haircut.
4. War…Huh… What is it Good For?…
…absolutely nothing. Edwin Starr and Frankie were not wrong and we don’t want any competitive wars in the casting studio either.
Some parents really don’t know when to rein in their competitive natures and although I’m glad to say that I’ve never witnessed some of the violence seen at football touchlines, I have been witness to some decidedly crazy antics .
If you really want your child to be a professional actor both now and going forward then you too need to behave professionally. This is imperative – you wouldn’t behave badly and aggressively at your own work so why would you do so at your child’s?
So, no psyching-other parents out, no tricks, no lying, just good old-fashioned decency and integrity. Traits you should want to demonstrate to your child in any event.
If you don’t behave like this then you won’t be invited to other castings and we will obviously report back to your agent as they too would not want to be associated with such behaviour.
5. Listen to Your Child’s Agent
This one is easy and does what it says on the tin – respect and take on board their advice. They understand this market and can really help you and your child succeed.
6. Crush The Candy
Please do not try not to give your child too many sweets or fizzy drinks before a casting. The last thing that the session needs is a glucose-fired hyperactive child running round the casting studio.
I’m no nutritionist, but think about bringing healthy food and fruit than can give your child energy without the spikes. Bananas, pasta salads and bottles of water will ensure that your little artisites perform to the best of their abilities
Make sure the agency has all the up to date paper work for your child – this is really important in terms of licensing.
8.Don’t Step on My Blue Suede Shoes…
… or even dress your child in them.
And don’t dress them in a party frock (especially if it’s a boy!) or anything overly skimpy. In fact be sensible and just let your child dress in clothes they feel comfortable in.
There may be occasions where you will be asked to come dressed specifically, but unless asked to do so treat it as a normal RELAXED Saturday or Sunday chilling with their friends.
9. Parents Should be Seen and Not Heard
Parents can be sometimes a distraction to their child in a casting. If you are in the casting suite please try to keep out of their way and eye-sight and let them get on with their job without any prompting or involvement from you. This can affect their performance.
10. Keep Smiling
If your child does not get the part, try not to be too disheartened, it could be that the casting director is trying to form a family and they might not quite fit in, they may decide to go for someone slightly older or younger – there could be a multitude of reasons. Nobody is saying that your child is talentless though or not worthy of being there.
Here Comes The Serious Bit…
Being an actor is a tough job and rejection is sadly part of the day-to-day aspect of that job. If you don’t feel your child can cope with this then you should seriously consider another vocation. Exposing a vulnerable child to constant rejection could have a lasting effect on their mental health and could cause issues of self-worth and negative body image.
I will be covering the mental health issues of being an actor in another blog, but in the meantime, be very careful with your child’s mental wellbeing it is not worth jeopardising over a TV spot or a short film.
If you have any tips or advice I’d love to hear from you too. Feel free to comment below.
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I think it’s important to remember that good behaviour from parent and child is very important in the waiting area too. Manners should be paramount too. Children should be polite and say “bye and Thankyou” when leaving.
I agree Helen, good manners are so important and it is certainly something I remember when I meet people… including little people 🙂
Great read. I do remember a McDonalds bribe before at a photo shoot for a ident and the child didn’t want to be there and the word McDonalds came out. I will share this cause it’s simple and great advice for parents stepping into the acting world for kids.
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm …Winston Churchill
Brilliant advice. As a mother of four young / aspiring actors, I’ve seen every form of them and thank fully not been guilty of any! ? I would also encourage my children to use their manners and thank the CD for their time. Very concise though, can I share to some model Facebook pages please? Very helpful, especially when less experienced are asking for tips on dressing, etc.
Thanks Kim! You sound like a dedicated Mum – 4 young actors in the family?? Wow, I’m impressed!
I’m glad you found it helpful and yes please feel free to share. Nicci x
Thank you for this informative article. My daughter has been to many castings and manages to get a few jobs but never loses her enthusiasm. She learns from every casting, be it self tapes, TVC’s, modelling stills or films. If she didn’t want to go I would never push her. That is such a good point and fundamental to success.
I will share this invaluable article.
Thanks Gina and that’s a very healthy mindset she has – learn from everything you do. I’m sure with that attitude she will continue to go from strength to strength and get more jobs.
Thank you for the advice Nikki – mum to Toby aged 17 with Brown & Mills. I would add that you need to have contact details for your agency and all your child’s measurements and experience (eg may be asked if you have done another car commercial in the last three years) to hand as Toby has done eight castings now and keeps this info on his phone as always asked. Maddie
Great tip Maddie and worth keeping it up to date too as they grow! 🙂
Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Good read however I don’t really think it’s particularly fair to blame parents and assume they are ‘vicariously living’ through their children if they don’t behave in a certain way. Children, especially younger children, by nature are unpredictable (angel one day satan the next ;)! And it could be said that often some castings are the complete opposite of child friendly. Also, if parents were completely honest there would be very few who don’t use a a form of bribery at some point in the day (just being real!)