Monday, April 12, 2010

So you wanna be in PICTURES

I get asked all the time, because my kids get film and theater roles, about how to get into "show business". You have been told your kids are gorgeous/talented/outta be in pictures and you are ready to sign up. If you are truly serious about it, the first thing I will ask you is: How do you feel about living in LA??? Because if you are successful at all, you will at least have to spend part of a year there. The vast majority of kids you see in film and tv live there and your odds of getting enough work to make it financially viable are that much greater if you are there. But lets say you live in one of the US' other major markets and you just want to get your feet wet. Well, your children can get work and make a bit of money as long as one parent is willing to make it their job. And thats the crux of it---if your kids are into it (and don't EVEN think about it if its not THEIR passion) carve out a space in your life to do this. Auditions come up suddenly, as do jobs, and you have to drop everything and get there

HEADSHOTS. You do not need professional headshots at first. A good natural portrait will do to get first theater jobs and student films. Once you have an agent, they will have photographers they like to work with and they can coach you on what looks book in.

AGENTS. Reputable agents DO NOT CHARGE YOU until you get work. While an agent may recommend coaches and photographers, be VERY wary of anyone who tries to sell you anything. Agents are supposed to be selling YOU, not making you BUY from them. Get a list of registered agents who handle kids and follow their submission requirements EXACTLY---it's usually a photo with a resume, but each agency will specify.

RESUME. Go ahead and start out in community theater and school productions. List that. Acting resumes list contact information, height, weight, clothing and shoe size and age. You can create a website with youTube video embedded--but make sure its excellent quality. Better to have no information than to have information that makes you look bad. If there are any film schools or community media centers near you, look for auditions there, and do as much as you can to learn.

REJECTION Being an actor is about constantly NOT being wanted. Even the most successful talen only books less than half the work they are considered for. If you or your child gets upset easily over NOT getting cast, then this is not a healthy activity for you. If you can enjoy the process of auditioning and not sweat being passed over, know that the more you audition, the more you will be cast. Of course, the more you audition the more you will NOT be cast too! But auditioning itself has to be the fun part. If you get the gig, that's gravy. You have to see your success in terms of how many auditions you go to and not how many gigs you get. That may sound insane, but every successful stage parent I know believes it.

The reasons you do not get cast are legion: you are the wrong size, wrong "look" (whatever THAT is), you have a conflict (never EVER lie about this when auditioning---kids get to have lives and you should be forthcoming about them) Sometimes they like your pigtails and sometimes they CANT STAND pigtails. It is never a reflection on your talent if you are not cast---it means someone else fit the director's vision more closely than you. Move on. It often seems as if there are "styles" of children that fall in and out of popularity. If you are a style that is popular you will see more bookings. But who wants to be a style.

SUCCESS What will you get out of this? Given the recent economy, not a whole lot of money. Many featured jobs are now going to non union or "real people" casting which pays LOW. But as I always say, its better that someone pay my kid to do something they love instead of me paying for activities, right? You will also find friends--people interested in acting and film and movies and theater so you develop a nice peer group. And for our family, being in shows and films is a way for us to spend a lot of time together. And what else could you ask for?

NEXT POST: Contests and deadlines for kids who create their OWN projects.

1 comment:

  1. My personal children work in "the bizness" but I will tell you the truth, I say no more than I say yes. Because having grown up in this World, I know that the real value in childhood lies in the experiences had on the playground, or in school events, or on family vacations. That's not to say that there aren't children out there who really belong in the biz, because they live and breathe it. They exist, they're just not the norm.

    This is exactly why I created The CAMPUS Kids. I wanted to give children a chance to explore performing without intense pressure or rejection. Though kids do have to audition for me, it's not the talent that gets them through my door, it's their personality, their work ethic, and the sanity of their parents. Showbiz with kids is hard enough. There is no reason to make it harder by engaging with parents who are trying to live out their dreams through their children, or who don't have an interest in working with, and for the group as a whole. I'm all about team.

    So go ahead and help your child chase their dreams. Just make sure that they are in fact their dreams, and that in chasing them they don't lose themselves, or their childhood along the way. Because life is real. There are no retakes.

    SMILE On!