Q: Do I need professional photos to get my child started?
A: No, you don't need professional photos to begin submitting your child to agencies. However, any snapshots or digitals you take on your own should still be vibrant with great lighting, free from background distractions and really capture the personality of your young one. Once you join an agency they'll most likely refer you to professional photographers and expect new photos within a specified timeframe to place your child on their website for clients to view.
Q: How can I tell a reputable agency from a scam agency?
A: A general rule of thumb is to do an online search by that company name and see what reviews have been posted. You're likely to find another parent or actor/model posting about negative interactions with a scam company to forewarn others. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau or ask a knowledgeable industry professional for feedback on the company. When in doubt, go with your gut, if it seems too good to be true in this industry, it just might be.
Q:How can I tell how well my child does at auditions since I cant go in with them?
A: Unfortunately, you cant. Parents aren't usually admitted past the doors of the audition room mostly due to possible distraction to your child while auditioning. If your child isn't booking jobs after several auditions you may want to do some mock auditions at home or hire an youth acting coach to better prepare your child for various types of auditions. If your child is booking jobs regularly then no need to worry unless you want to polish their skills further with coaching lessons or acting classes.
Q: How much should I expect to spend to get an agent?
A: $0!!!! You should never pay to join an agency, that's across the board for any type of agency. Exceptions to this standard may be if you're actually joining a modeling school or the unfortunate scam agency. In either case your money would be better suited for travel expenses, photoshoots and other industry tools than paying to join a school or a sketchy agency. Reputable agencies will likely charge a website maintenance fee and that's normal. Clients primarily view potential actors/models they want to hire by viewing your photos online. Be cautious of high website fees and push back when an agency ask for fees higher than $150 per year.
Q: Do I have to sign a contract to work with an agency?
A: It is industry standard that most agencies will have you sign some sort of contract. It may be an exclusive contract to work with them solely for a specified period of time in a specified market or a non-exclusive contract stating that your child can work with other agencies and based on a first call, first serve basis you pay your commission to the agency who calls you first for the audition. Other relevant details will be listed in either contract like how payments work and talent expectations. Always read thoroughly and don't be afraid to question any parts that aren't clear.
Q: How often should we expect to travel?
A: That depends on where you live, what areas your agency covers, how flexible your schedule is and, most important, it depends on what you communicate to your agency about your travel abilities in your initial meeting. Be honest about your schedule upfront and communicate with them if it changes. Some agencies will be flexible with traveling for out of state talent if you have great communication. Learn how to record auditions at home to cut down on travel, where applicable.
Q: Are there any laws that protect my child and I or any laws that we should know about?
A: Yes there are various State Laws you must follow as the guardian of a young performer to include a work permit, trust account, a responsible person present on set and more. You can find more details here: http://www.sagaftra.org/content/state-statutes for some requirements. In terms of protection, there are regulations that protect union actors or actors working on union projects but non union projects and modeling aren't governed by any unions.
Q: What is the union and should my child join?
A: The most referred to union is SAG-AFTRA for Television/Film projects, there are also Theatrical Unions which you can explore by doing online research. The best way to educate yourself on making any union decisions is to go straight to the source. Each union's website is a great start and you'll get the correct information the first time instead of being misinformed by hearsay. Union fees can be pricey for new members so eduacte yourself thoroughly and choose wisely. Most important is to know what type of work can force you into the union before you're ready. Check the requirements and compare the work your child has currently booked to know if their union eligible.
Q: How much can we expect to get paid?
A: Payment amounts vary based on client budgets, union or non-union projects, agency minimum rates and more. You should always be given full details when invited for an audition so you'll know the payment amount and other details before you accept the audition and certainly before you accept the booking. Other details include type of project, location, shoot date, and duration of shoot. Industry standard for most payments is 30-90 days from project date unless it is a union project.
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Talented Young Folks Founder