16 September 2016

Top Tips for ‘stage mums’ that can’t afford the drama!

The lengths parents go to in a bid for their child’s dreams of TV stardom never cease to amaze me.

I have lost count of the number of parents (and wanna be actors) that have come to me after paying out hundreds of pounds joining ‘agencies’….never to receive an audition. Others pay a fortune to join franchised drama schools or take part in ‘one off’ productions at their local theatres, not realising their child auditioning isn’t an ‘audition’ – it’s a publicity stunt to get you to buy tickets!

So here it is – a fool proof and affordable way to help you or your child achieve their dreams of TV stardom. With drama school and university becoming a playground for the super rich, getting a few jobs on your CV as a child will stand you in good stead as an adult actor. It means (if you save the fee’s and don’t spend them) working class families have a viable way of affording a place at a prestigious drama school or university later in life.

1) Finding a good and affordable drama class. Check out their alumni. Have any of their pupils worked professionally? Do they come recommended? Learning lines, understanding a characters emotional journey, being able to portray deep and real emotion on cue, learning techniques for TV and stage work, sight reading, audition technique – these are skills you need as an actor. This is what an acting school worth it’s salt should be teaching. First and foremost you child needs to be able to act!

2) Finding an agent. Many acting schools for kids are affiliated with or have their own agency. You should NEVER have to pay to join an agency. Sometimes they hide these costs under the heading ‘portfolio’. In reality your child needs one good headshot! Our patron and Cori Street star Tisha Merry had one good head shot – which we organised for £50. Talent shines through – always.
Signing your child up to an ‘extra’ agency or for modelling work is a completely different thing to an acting agency. Taking your child out of school to do modelling or extra work for £35 a day will NOT help them become an actor. It’s a myth.
A good agent will know you and your child, they will have met you at classes or in their office. If they haven’t how on earth do they know if your child has any talent? Also – check how much commission they take. We take 15% and always include photocopies of the remittance from the TV company when we pay you. We also tell you what the fee is for the job when we book you in for a casting. Recently I booked a new child in for a casting and the mother called after to say she couldn’t afford £800 – she didn’t realise £800 was the fee if they got the job! She thought they had to pay to attend an audition??!!

3) Finding work. A good agent will suggest you join Spotlight – this is £98 for a child or £149 for an adult yearly. Be warned – some agencies will charge more for this – they call it an admin fee. You can do it yourself – it’s super simple. For my clients that can’t afford this you I insist they join Casting Networks (£15). Best case scenario – you join both. These sites are used in the casting process for paid professional acting work. Both these will only accept professional quality head shots. The absolute MOST you need to pay for these when you are starting out is £100 – and even that is steep! We get a photographer to come in for the day and do all the new kids/clients on the same day – it works out about £30 per client. But that’s why I still drive an old banger!

So your child has talent, they have learnt to act, they have an agent and they are on the relevant casting sites.
What next?
It’s all about you!! YOU have to be available at any given time to take them for auditions and castings. It’s tough and difficult logistically and practically. I try to give parents as much notice as possible but often it’s a day. Quite often I call to check availability before I put a client forward – so parents change all their plans for an unexpected trip to Manchester and then I have to call back at 5pm and say the casting is postponed or actually – after putting you forward, they don’t want to see you!

It’s a frustrating job and not everyone can be a ‘stage’ mum or dad – yes, Dad’s often drive the star to and from auditions too. I know I couldn’t do it, I find it hard enough getting him to school on time let alone work! Bear in mind that your child will probably never appreciate the work you are putting in either – it’s not a decision to be taking lightly BUT in reading this blog at least I have saved you a few quid.

Top tip for today

Lots of casting directors are asking for self tapes. Download the vimeo, we transfer and you tube apps on your phone/i pad so you are ready when that call comes in.

Important info!
Every child MUST be licenced to work by the relevant education authority. You are breaking the law if you allow your child to work professionally (even on low paid or for free) without this in place.