What if your child is so new to the business that they don’t even have an agent yet? Or you’ve been at it for a while but still don’t have an agent? How can you get the auditions that might add enough to their resume to perhaps interest an agent, as well as add to their experience?
While it’s true that auditions for the better roles can only be accessed through an agent, the most basic audition opportunities can be found posted on job boards for actors like ActorsAccess.com, Backstage, etc. CastingNetworks.com has more opportunities in the commercial arena, but very recently entered the arena for theatrical (film and TV) casting as well.
For a low monthly fee you can post your child’s headshot, resume, and special skills. Auditions that match their basic information, like gender and age range, will come into your email inbox, and you can decide whether to pursue them. Some are fun, and some will not be appropriate. Many are cattle calls.
These auditions are never going to be for big projects or lead roles—those are only available through licensed talent agents. But they are useful to help your child get comfortable with the audition process, and if some lead to actual work, they can help fill out a resume so a potential agent might take them seriously.
When you fill out the forms on whichever site you choose, be sure to fill them out completely and honestly. Don’t list special skills that your young actor really doesn’t have. Do be accurate! And be careful not to miss filling out fields like “age range” (not just actual age) because that is one of the ways the computer programs select for audition calls.
Another great way to get some experience and material for your resume before you ever even visit Los Angeles is to work in films that are cast and shot in your own home state.
Even a small independent film can be a great experience for a developing actor, and bigger films often shoot in locations far outside of Hollywood. How do you find out about these opportunities, especially without an agent? Go to your state film commission! I have a BONUS for you HERE: A comprehensive list of every state film commission and their contact info! Click THIS LINK to download yours now.
Working as an extra/ background performer can be a great way for your child to learn some of the special language and protocols of a set. It’s not glamorous, but can be a good way to test the seriousness of their commitment. Are they willing to go through the tedium of a long day of mostly waiting, then likely repeatedly performing a simple action like crossing behind the star through a hallway on the call of “action”?
What extras work will not give is the fantasy that I suspect many young actors dream of: that they will be noticed, or “discovered” in the course of working as an extra. While technically anything is possible, I know of no one that this has happened to, and every set with extras that I have been on— television or film—the extras are largely segregated from the stars and director.
The idea that you can be “discovered” while working as an extra is a myth that happens only in movies themselves.
Student films are another entry-level opportunity that can give real experience and add some material to the resume. However, since they are by their nature non-union and typically run by young people, be especially careful around questions of safety. Unions are great for many reasons, not the least of which is safety regulations! Be alert wherever your child is working, but especially if the project is amateur or non-union.
Be aware that neither extras work or student films are likely to lead to any kind of serious work, but they can be an easy-entry way to see if your child actually enjoys the work of acting as much as the idea of it, which is critical if you are considering investing time and money into giving them a real shot at a career.
If your young actor is able to add some credits and through smaller roles and projects found through audition boards, they will have an easier time interesting an agent with meeting, and possibly signing them. And then a whole new world of bigger and better roles and projects can open up—and your kid may have the experience to actually audition for them!
Are you thinking about how to help your child become an actor? Or are you a young actor yourself?
My book, The Hollywood Parents Guide, available on Amazon contains everything I wish I’d known when Dove and I started this journey, and will save you untold amounts of time, money, and stress. Full of information you MUST know, it also features stories from parents of other kids who’ve made it!
Or book an hour consulting with me to come up with an individualized plan that takes your own unique needs into account. For about the cost of an hour with a professional acting coach, you can get your questions answered and a road map to help you move forward toward your dream.
Invest a little in your kid’s future today.
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