Have you ever lovingly glanced at your child and thought, “You oughta be in pictures”? Well if so, this is the article for you. There are many questions, myths and concerns regarding getting a child into acting or modeling which deter many parents from pursuing it, so I have laid out three basic steps, some need-to-knows, and a few words of caution that should help your journey.
Photo Courtesy of Bridgette Marie Photography
BASIC STEPS TO BREAK YOUR CHILD INTO THE BUSINESS:
1) Find An Agent
Most casting directors use casting agents to hire actors, particularly child actors. There are several reputable agencies in San Diego that are listed below. All agencies have varying procedures for submission which will be spelled out on their websites.
2) Get a Work Permit
All minors need a talent work permit before working on a film/TV set or a modeling shoot that you can obtain from your local labor board (in San Diego it is located at7575 Metropolitan Dr., Rm. 210). There is a form you can download on line and must be signed by parent/legal guardian, the employer and the child’s school. The form takes a few days to process and must be updated every 6 months. It is the parent’s responsibility to keep the work permit updated.
3) Set-up A Coogan Account
Coogan’s Law states that children must have 15% of their earnings put into a protected trust fund via direct deposit, which no one can touch until the child is 18. The law was named after Jackie Coogan, a child star who had been discovered by Charlie Chaplin and became infamous for the brutal legal battles he entered into with his parents over his earnings. The Coogan Account does not need to be set up until an actual gig is booked.
THINGS TO KNOW:
1) Children under 7 do not necessarily need a head shot. An amateur snapshot by mom or dad will suffice.
2) The going rate for head shots is approx $200 – $300. No need to spend thousands of dollars (see below for a SPECIAL OFFER and leave a comment to win a FREE photography session!).
3) When taking head shots, outdoor settings are preferable, no busy patterns or logos, no dress-up clothes and no make-up or hair done up.
4) Agents are typically looking for twins and triplets, particularly for babies and toddlers, since the labor laws limit the amount of hours children can be on a set at one time.
5) Actors Alliance of San Diego is a great local resource for beginning acting classes and seminars, as are the local colleges.
WORDS OF CAUTION AND RED FLAGS:
• A legitimate agent will not ask you for money up front. NOT EVER. Agents make their money on a percentage of money brought in once a gig is booked. So asking for money up front is a major red flag.
• Before booking with an agency, make sure they are SAG franchised.
• If it seems like a scam, it probably is. Listen to your parental instincts.
Mama Mary is the host of the her own blog The Mama Mary Show, a freelance writer, author of Dead Dads Club, a mom to two spunky little girls and an a over-zealous GLEEk.