Once you figure out that your kid was born for the silver screen, and your pretty certain you have the next Dakota Fanning on your hands, you will need to go through the rigorous and stressful process of finding, meeting and evaluating representation. This process is exactly like shoe shopping. Or trying to find a swimsuit after you’ve had a baby, and I mean like right after. Ugh. In other words, everything looks great on the rack, but dig a little deeper and either they will hurt your feet like a mother or truly fit in all the right places.
The representation you seek will vary depending on your personal preference in agency size, your kids age, your kids experience level (resume) and how lucky you are. I say that last part because if I have learned one thing in the past year it’s that there are no written rules in this business.
Does your kid fill an immediate hole in the agent’s roster? – signed.
Does your kid look like the agent’s favorite nephew? – signed.
Is your kid somehow unique or very interesting? – signed.
Does your kid painfully remind the agent of that brat ten years ago that flipped a crafty table on set? hmmm, in the words of the infamous Magic 8 Ball, outlook not so good.
What works for one won’t work for another and what most say doesn’t work will work for some. Clear as mud right? Exactly. Pour yourself a drink and welcome to the world of entertainment.
Once you figure out what would work best for your kid in terms of Agent or Manager, you can start submitting to the agencies. Backstage Resources has a pretty accurate listing of agencies and how they like for parents to submit their child’s material to them. This is called a cold submission because the agent doesn’t know your child or you.
A better way to get into a meeting with an agency is by what’s called an Industry Referral. An Industry referral is when someone “in the industry” calls an agent they know and have a relationship with and says something like “yo, you gotta meet this kid (insert child’s name here), I’m a huge fan and they are going to blow your socks off.” Generally, the industry referrer has to have a relationship with the person they are providing the referral to. The makeup artist on the student film you shot last weekend can’t exactly call up any ‘ol agent and provide a referral. I mean, they can, but you might as well just stalk out that agent’s email and send the material yourself because if there is no relationship its essentially still a “cold submission”. However, if that makeup artist is also the client of said agent it would likely have much more weight as a legit referral. So, if you are in the market already building your kids resume, network! Most model/actor mommies (and daddies) are very forthcoming with valid industry information and opinions. (opinions being the key word) Plus, it’s fun to talk shop with other like minds. None of my non industry friends can fathom trekking a 4-year-old to and from NY for an audition. Actor mommies/daddies will email you breakdowns that they know fit your kid! So point being, make friends and ask questions, you could likely get a great referral to a fantastic agent this way. Trust me.
Probably less proactive but still possible, your kid could get representation by being scouted. This happens! The entertainment community is surprisingly connected and if your kid does good work it will get around. After O’s first commercial she became an immediate favorite of that casting office, with requests for direct bookings. Casting directors, directors, and agents all talk and all are looking for talent to make their commercials cuter, their casting process faster and ultimately to make it rain $$$. HAHAHA sorry, that was just so stupid but I seriously couldn’t help myself. Ahhhh, anyway, if an agent sees a kid on set, in a play, in a commercial, in a blog that their mother writes and posts pictures of them working and doing random stuff all the time, and they want them, they will seek them out like a stalker and pounce.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and just say it, who you know is as (if not more) important than how talented you are. It sucks. It blows. I know! But in my experience the equation is: talent + luck or contacts. Many may disagree and that’s fine.
Now, I am a habitual list maker so the first thing I did once I had some confirmed agent meetings was start listing potential questions I would have.
Not to beat a dead horse but, depending on the agency size, child age and experience level different questions may or may not be relevant to your situation. Based on my research the following are questions that were relevant to my situation;
Do you participate in union and nonunion castings?
Do you participate in commercial castings?
Do you participate in TV/Legit castings?
How much notice is typically given for an audition?
How often are kids in my child’s age range auditioning per week?
Do you have many kids with my child’s look/age range?
What is your book out policy?
What is your policy on self submissions/finding our own work?
What is your policy on declining auditions/work (for content, conflicts of interest, religion, whatever, etc)?
How do you like to be contacted? (email/phone)
Is this an exclusive or non exclusive agreement?
Other applicable questions could be things like;
Do you participate in theatre castings?
Do you participate in print castings?
Do you have relationships with managers?
Do you take out of town talent?
Do you take summer talent?
Are you bicoastal?
Hope this was helpful!
Next time, what to expect in your actual agent meeting.