Hi Friends! If you are reading this, you might be interested in getting your little loved ones into the AWESOME/FUN/CRAZY/REWARDING/EXHAUSTING/STRESSFUL/FABULOUS/HEARTBREAKING/ COLLEGE-SAVINGS-CREATING/ETC, ETC, ETC world of CHILD MODELING!
WARNING: I am writing these tidbits of advice from the mind of a sleep-deprived, but, newly semi-experienced mother of one-year old and 3.5 year-old daughters. So, if you read something and think, “What in the world is this Looney-Toon talking about?”- ask me! And, also, I will update this post frequently. But, always reach out if you have a question and I can try to help (or I’ll ask someone who can): firstname.lastname@example.org.
Firstly, Dolly (@dolly_gmm), my one year old, has shot for Carters, Gap, Ralph Lauren, The Children’s Place, “Parents’ Magazine,” Macys, and Kissy Kissy. She started going on castings when she was 7 months old. Secondly, Onie (@onie_gmm) did a shoot for Old Navy when she was 9 months old. But, at one, she was the size of a two-year old, with no hair (it is just now starting to grow, and she’s as tall as a five-year old). Thusly, she has not been submitted for jobs since she was an infant (since casting is based around height etc); but, I think she will be ready to and want to again soon. Both girls are repped by the awesome folks at Generation Model Management (GMM). Also, we live in Queens, NYC (about 45 min on the subway to Manhattan).
ABSOLUTE FIRST STEP:
Ask yourself: “Am I really organized and on-time for everything?” Or, do you think you can be? Then, you might do well as a caregiver of a Child Model (“momager”?). But, if you are perpetually late and cannot keep on top of a schedule, then, really, it’s not going to work out. Also, will you be ok with not knowing what you have to do the next morning until late the night before? This happens a lot, so, if that’s not ok (for your sanity or work schedule), this might also be a reason why you might not want to get your child into modeling.
NOW, FIRST STEPS:
I chose Generation Model Management (www.generationmm.com) for Onie when she was a baby (and, thusly, Dolly is, also, with GMM). I just had a good feeling about them; and, I went with it (and, I’m happy that I did). But, there are lots of other great agencies in NYC. Some that I know are good (from other parents of models in NYC) are:
-NY Model Management: www.newyorkmodels.com
-Zuri Model and Talent: www.zurimodelandtalent.com
-Teri B Talent & Model Management: www.teribtalent.com
There are others and some parents choose to go with a manager (like Marni Maroof) only, or a manager and an agent. I only work with GMM with the girls. I have heard that when your child gets really in-demand, some parents will choose to have a manager and an agent. But, I know next-to-nothing about managers.
Also, at castings and jobs, I have met parents/children who were chosen via Street Casting. Therefore, they self-submitted and were picked to be seen or booked. There are lots of casting possibilities in NYC, even without agency representation. They can be researched via Instagram (ex. @cast_inc_nyc), Backstage, etc. When, I started to pursue an agent for Onie, I didn’t know that you could self-submit for some jobs. But, still, I would have chosen to work with an agent, because, they do have way more access to jobs and, for me, it seems like it would be a pain to have to constantly research castings.
How do you get an agent for your child? Well, the various agencies will have information on their websites with how they accept model submissions and what they require. I believe that no one will want you to submit professional headshots. You most likely will just be asked to send the agency 2-3 snapshots of your child (preferably looking at the camera). The agency will reach out to you if they are interested. You do not reach out to them. These are a couple photos that I sent of Dolly and Onie:
If you are called in to meet an agent, it goes without saying that you need to bring your child in on time. Also, be nice, dress your child well (clean child with clean, attractive clothing— reflecting how the agency would expect you to bring him/her for a casting/fitting/booking), and, dress well yourself (clean you with clean clothes).
It’s an easy application that is usually processed quickly in Albany and tends to take no more than two weeks for a permit to be mailed back to you. There is no fee for the permit. And, you must renew it every year (so, keep an eye out for the expiration date)! There is, also, an option to get a super- quick, one-time, 15 day permit if you need to. Further, included within the application, are a health form (that will need to be completed by your child’s pediatrician), a school form (if your child is school-aged), and a trust form. Which leads me to:
-A TRUST ACCOUNT:
There are various possible trust accounts (the application lists them). My bank, Wells Fargo, opened Coogan Blocked Trust accounts for my girls. I must say, that even in Soho in NYC, the bankers had difficulty figuring out how to process the account (and, actually did it wrong the first time around). So, make sure you allot enough time, if there happens to be a problem. When your child books a job, 15% of the fee will go directly into this trust by law (look up the Coogan Law and you will cry). The rest of the fee, minus a 20% agency fee and/or a 15% manager fee, will be mailed to you in your child’s name. Back to the form, it must be notarized at the bank. So, when making an appointment to set up the account, make sure that there will be a notary present.
-You should have copies of your child’s social security number, birth certificate, trust account information, and, when you have it, your child’s permit, and agency vouchers (which often must be filled out at a job in order for your agency to invoice a client— esp for jobs that are paid by the hour instead of a flat fee). You should take these copies with you whenever you take your child to a booked job. I keep everything in a big filing folder (in it, I, also, keep a notebook where I write down all the information about castings, fittings, bookings, so I don’t forget anything). Always bring a pen or two, as well.
Let’s say your child gets an agent. And, let’s call your child, Dolly, for ease of explanation. The agent will submit Dolly’s photo to any job that she is appropriate for. However, this requires that the agency receives regular updates with Dolly’s measurements (height, clothes size, and shoe size) and updated photos. I send this info in for Dolly, with new photos (about five), once a month because she is so little and changing so quickly. Additionally, it is required that the agency is notified if Dolly will not be available certain days. You must “book out” these days in advance with the agency, or they will assume that you will be available for any casting or job. And, if they get Dolly a casting or a job, and she isn’t available (for something other than illness or a family emergency), the agency will have possibly lost a spot for an agency child for that job, and, therefore, income. And, don’t bug your agents about submitting your child. Unless they tell you otherwise, they are doing it.
A casting is an audition for a job. Your agent will give you an address for the casting and either an exact appointment time or a range of times that your child can be seen. A casting could take ten minutes to, even, two to three hours of waiting. It could be located in Manhattan or, less frequently, New Jersey. Like I said, Dolly should be dressed well, of course. Usually, during the casting, she will have her photo taken in her own clothes. But, sometimes, you could have to put on the client’s clothes for a photo. And, bring everything you might need if you happen to have a wait at the casting (snacks, bottles, diapers, little toys, etc).
Now, Dolly booked the job and is scheduled for a fitting a couple of days before the shoot. Fittings are usually paid (ex. $100). Just because your child is fitted in an outfit, though, it doesn’t mean that the she will be shot in that outfit. And, there’ s not always a fitting prior to a shoot.
Then, comes the shoot. It could take an hour to multiple hours. A shoot might pay at a flat rate or by the hour. Also, Dolly could be directly booked for a shoot via her photo (without a required casting or, even, a fitting). Furthermore, she could be the B-model— meaning, the alternate for the child chosen for the shoot, in case the other child gets cranky, tired, sick, etc. This might mean, that you are at a shoot, and Dolly doesn’t have her photo taken. But, still, she will still get paid and she could be booked again for the same client in the future (and, possibly, be the first choice that time around).
-Just because your child is shot in an outfit, it doesn’t mean you will ever see the photo. It could be used at a trade show or for a corporate event for the company, for example. And, the client will not contact you to let you know to look for photos. You have to be on the hunt yourself. Which brings me to one of the really wonderful things about this business: parents helping parents! When you meet parents and other caregivers on a set, if you choose to, it’s nice to exchange contact info (often Instagram accounts for your child or yourself) so you can reach out to them if you come across a pic of his/her child and vice versa. Sometimes parents will even be traveling overseas and find photos of your child! So much fun! And, really, the parents can become good friends, too.
-More likely than not, the client does not want you to shoot photos and videos of your child on set in their clothes. Definitely, unless they specifically tell you to, do not post photos on social media of your child in the company’s clothing immediately after a shoot (before the company posts the photos themselves). A huge no-no.
-You will not, most of the time, be given the clothes that your child wears for a shoot. Usually, they are samples and not meant to be seen yet.
-Also, just be nice and don’t mom/dad shame. I like to think that what goes around comes around. So, just be kind to people, ok?! :-)
Things to bring to a shoot:
-Bibs for droolers/teethers
-Maybe some white diapers with no pattern (in case they aren't available on set)
-To Be Updated Shortly (Clothing, Photos, Etc)