ADVISE FOR PARENTS
To become a top model your child will require a parent or guardian present at all times, this journey will be one that you embark on together. Your support and supervision is invaluable, and can often determine the success of your child in modelling. We have put together some useful tips and advice for parents.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I ready for my child to be a model?
- Can I give my child’s modelling enough attention?
- Does my child have an outgoing personality?
- Does my child take direction well?
- Is my child well-behaved around strangers
If you have answered YES to the above questions then you and your child are ready to take the first steps into junior/child modelling.
Agencies & Modelling Management:
- Approach reputable agencies and modelling management. With the UK’s modelling industry unregulated, there are a growing number of cowboy companies preying on the naive and inexperienced.
- Send pictures of your child to a reputable agency or management. Professional pictures are not essential at this stage; however you will need professional pictures for the agency to promote your child.
- It is important to compare agencies carefully before signing any contracts. This will maximize your child’s working potential, as having a good agent will make an enormous difference.
- Never assume that the largest agency is the best. Often smaller agencies provide you and your child with greater focus and attention.
- Any person under the age of 16 or in full time education must be licensed to work in modelling or entertainment. Reputable agencies which represent children are aware of and adhere to Child Licensing Laws and will organise this for you.
- Your child will be required to attend castings to audition for jobs. See the casting as an enjoyable experience and opportunity for you and your child, in order to alleviate pressure and stress.
- Once your child is modelling professionally it is recommended that your e-mail address and telephone number are used as contact details. Do not give out a direct contact number for your child.
- Always allow more than the allotted time. Modelling jobs tend to take longer than initially anticipated so it is a good idea to allow some time for extended sessions.
- Don’t interfere in the shooting process unless you feel it is inappropriate. As a parent, you are required to be there for your child. However, unless asked by a member of staff, stay in the background at all times.
- Modelling agencies take a commission for modelling jobs they arrange for your child. This is usually 10-20%, but should never be more than 25%.
- Modelling managements they do not take any commission from the jobs that you find through their websites, they will usually charge only a membership fee. The advantages of a modelling management is that they connect you with more than just one agency or casting directors, and the jobs that you get through them are without any commission charge, so you will receive all the payments in full as a freelancer.
- Most agencies estimate that a regularly working child model will earn anything from £500-£4000 per year depending on the size of job they secure.
- Child modelling agencies can receive around 500 applications per week and they usually reject 75% of these applications which means it is very competitive.
- As children grow and change so rapidly it is important that the pictures you are using to represent your child are current and accurate.
Pictures should be updated in the following way:
- Babies between 0-3 months: monthly updates
- Babies between 3-18 months: every 3 months
- Children between 18 months-5 yrs: every six months
- Children over the age of 5: at least annual updates
Once you are accepted by an agency, they will need some pictures of the model to start, so that clients can see how the model looks. Genuine agents will if they like your look, recommend professional test photographers once they test you and decide to take you on the agency books. We have seen many so called “portfolios” which have cost anything up to £4,500. Some of these were completely useless and a waste of money to the novice.
Yes, genuine agencies and modelling management do suggest test shot photographs to get the portfolio started, but these are not expensive (usually around £50-60 per image or print). With the exception of children, you should also have a hair & make up artist at the shoot to ensure top quality photos and this will usually add £50 to the cost. Carefully consider how the contract will tie you if you decide that you want to leave the agency or how it will affect you if you end up in a dispute with the agency.
We have seen a number of contracts which are very unreasonable and that are biased against the novice and totally in favour of the agency with trumped up and inflated costs should the model even sneeze in the wrong direction!
If you sign a contract the Law states that it is legally binding, even if you signed it without reading it first. So do not be the victim be the victor and make sure that you take the contract away, read the contract, understand them and how that contract will affect you and your work.
Some agencies will try and charge you for say a 3 year contract. AVOID THIS – NEVER PAY AN AGENCY TO JOIN.
A license is what you need to get from your local council in order for the school to give permission for you child to take part in the shoot or filming.
You need to obtain letters from your doctor to say your child is in good health and a letter from your child’s school giving them permission to miss school. Most councils want at least seven working days to process these.
Be realistic. If you don’t want your child to work during school time, she’s unlikely to get work as most shoots will occur during the working day. Both you and your child must be prepared to cope with rejection and lots of hanging around.
Castings are organised by agencies, creative directors and companies that are looking for models for their projects, and usually these are paid jobs. Your child will be required to attend castings to audition for jobs. See the casting as an enjoyable experience and opportunity for you and your child, in order to alleviate pressure and stress.
Once you have applied and been been to a casting, you will hear back only if your child has been successful. At this point most jobs put an option on your child (this means that they are on the shortlist but do not definitely have the job).
You may need to obtain a license for the shoot; your agency will take you through this process. You should then hear from your agency as to whether your child has been confirmed, the rate and the details of location and call time for the shoot.
In TV commercials, if your child is featured in the final cut, they get what’s called a ‘Buyout’ – this is usage rights, usually for one year, and can be worth anything from 100%–500% of the original shoot fee. The agency will not know this until the commercial has been edited and the client has been back in touch.
Be a good timekeeper, reliable and prompt. You will need your own transport and be prepared to travel and to be flexible.
Take food and drink along to the shoot – it may not be provided and you may be there over a mealtime. It’s also a good idea to take along books and games to keep your child occupied.
Make sure your child has clean and tidy hair and nails, and a clean face when you take her to a shoot. A few changes of clothes are also a good idea. Your agency should tell you what you need.
Above all, make sure everyone is enjoying it. If either you, or your child, stop having fun – don’t do it. The child’s temperament is equally important as looks – all baby and child models must be good behaved and sociable in order to put up with meeting lots of strangers.
All child models must be co-operative, and easy going; temper tantrums or bad manners or sulkiness will not be tolerated. So as the parents you will have to be realistic about your child’s nature.
What sort of work could my child get as an assignment?
Your child might appear anywhere from a cover for a parenting magazine, national TV adverts for parenting products such as nappies for babies, in-store advertising, posters for child products, games, feature on packaging for toys or child medication, in catalogues for clothes, even on posters on buses even posters for children’s charities.
How much money will my baby or child make?
Not enough to retire on or earn a living from for all the family, the industry rate for babies per hour is £40- £50 and agencies take 20- 25 per cent of that – the pay for children rises on a sliding scale according to age and also according to the assignment. TV commercials can command a buy-out fee so what starts off as a small fee may rise into a substantial sum.
Most agencies estimate that so even the most hard-working child will probably only earn around £500-£7000 a year which although not a huge sum is great to invest for the child’s future or plans for their education.
Because there is no promise of work- due to the fact that the agency does not decide on who gets assignments, many children make less and as work is sporadic this is not a regular income.
What to Avoid
Free Photographic Shots
It is a sad but true fact that nowadays you do not get something for nothing. It can be very flattering when someone asks to take your picture or offers to do a photographic shoot for you for nothing. But remember that there are very few things in life which cost nothing.
First, you should never put yourself in a vulnerable position. So take a friend or relative of adult age with you. A genuine person (photographer) will not mind you doing this, if you do not then you are being foolish as you are already vulnerable even if you do know the person, a large number of sexual assaults and rapes are statistically proven that the victim knew and trusted it’s attacker. So don’t be stupid be safe!
Misleading Model Release Forms
NEVER sign a MODEL RELEASE FORM without reading it first and knowing how it affects you or your model child. In most cases if you have been for an assignment your agent deals with this matter. However, recent cases have shown that some unscrupulous people have actually taken pictures of models of all ages, themselves, then got the model to sign a very alarmingly worded model release form and for no payment those pictures can be used by the photographer or agent in whatever publication they choose. So be very careful make sure that you read and understand the implications before you sign anything!
Bogus Model & Casting Agents / Companies
This has to be one of the biggest and most successful cons throughout the UK in this industry. Alba has in the past received hundreds of calls from people of all ages who have been conned out of varying sums between £50 to £500 per person by bogus casting and model agencies which set up in different hotel conference rooms throughout the UK over a weekend period and then held so called casting seminars.
The double sting comes when the applicant, having already paid a large sum of money up front to the first casting company /agency, is then offered contracts by other agencies, however, those agencies are either owned by the same persons running the seminar or they also want a fee up front.
Genuine Agencies will only take on persons that they believe they can find work, and do not ask for any joining fee’s up front whatsoever.
I have seen a number of males and females who have paid at least £500 for a one day modelling course run by an agency. All of theses people were told that without doing the course they would not be accepted by the agency. Sadly they are not fully trained after that one expensive day. Often this is the only income that some agencies have and they do little else for the model once they have attended a compulsory course and paid.
So if you think your child has that little something extra… give it a go!