May 27, 2019
An Agent represents their talent (the actor or model), submitting them to Casting Directors and clients, in order to secure castings. Your Agent will negotiate on your behalf with their client and ensure you receive the best fees possible. Your Agent will then deduct a commission, which will be discussed between you at membership stage.
Is an Agent really necessary?
Of course! Our agency has access to the biggest clients in their industry and most modeling and TV work is secured through an agency. Agents are also the first point of contact for production companies and most well established companies have good relationships with us. We know what our clients want and will convey that to you clearly and concisely, ensuring you the best chance of success with the casting and ultimately the role.
How do I trust you as an agency?
At STL we meet and get to know all of our talent. Do some research on the Agents and people who work within the agency? Also, speak to people in the industry; if your Agent is well known and has a good reputation then you have no reason not to go with them. Trust your instinct and how you feel about your Agent when you meet them.
Ultimately you have to like and believe in them, as you’ll be working closely with them.
How do I guarantee work?
You can never guarantee work and neither can your Agent. STL will do their best to ensure you are put forward for every single brief that suits your profile, however the final call in is down to the client and the Casting Directors. Our Agents are extremely experienced so you will only be accepted onto the agency if we can see that you have the potential to work
How often will we get a casting?
It really is impossible to say. Lots of opportunities arise daily and you will be put forward for each suitable role, however there is also a lot of competition out there. The reality is our most experienced actors are not at castings every week. It really is a case of communicating with your Agent and ensuring that your photos and measurements are up-to-date. All photographic work is booked on the basis that the measurements and photos are correct and current. You will be wasting not only your own but everyone's time if they aren't. This is you as a parent’s responsibility.
What exactly does an Agent do?
Where are the castings held?
Mainly in London, however we work with clients who do hold auditions outside and across the U.K. Each production is assessed on a case by case basis. Your Agent will give you clear information for each casting when you are called.
Who lets me know if I have a casting?
We do, you will form a close relationship with your agent at STL and they will assist you from the casting stage, right through to the end of the job. Anything you are asked to prepare will be sent to you, this includes appropriate dress instructions and any scripts that may need to be rehearsed.
What happens at a casting?
A casting is an audition. There may be a few other auditionees there and sometimes there may be lots and lots. Most clients use different agencies for variety. A lot of Casting Directors only want to see your child for a very brief audition so please do not let this put you off. It is important that only one parent attends castings with your child, and please try not to take siblings where possible. In most cases the Casting Director wants to see your child without you present and you’ll be asked to wait outside. This is just while your child is asked a couple of questions, and to get a feel for their confidence without parents present, as often children are self-conscious around their parents. Please ensure your child follows the dress code instructions with no large logos, earrings or branding etc.
Are castings paid?
Some are and some aren’t. Because some Casting Directors and clients see so many youngsters, it’s simply not possible.
What is child licencing?
Once you are signed up to STL you will receive a starter pack, this will have a Guide to Child Licencing document attached. Please ensure you read through this. A children's license is a document that is issued from your local borough that authorizes your child to work. It is a legal document that must be completed for any work that a child under sixteen receives payment for. If over 5, you will be required to issue your Agent with a school note if the casting or shoot is taking place during school time. Please ensure you make your child’s school aware that they are joining the agency so there are no huge surprises. We do require a quick response so not letting the schools know could delay the process and your child could lose out on the job. It is the responsibility of the production to process the application, however sometimes they’ll ask the agency to on their behalf.
What is a Self Tape, and how do I make one?
It is extremely common for Casting Directors to ask our talent to ‘self tape’ instead of attending an initial casting. This will mean they’d like you to read the lines and record it which can be done using your phone or tablet (or by using a DSLR if you have one).
If the client then likes your self-tape, they will do one of two things, bring you in to meet with them or they will book you direct for the job.
Once you are a member of STL you will be given details on what to and not to do when self-taping.
You will be issued with a Glossary document to help you understand the industry ‘slang’ in your starter pack. Please read it carefully so that you understand what everything means, i.e. a Call Sheet is a schedule for the shoot day; BSF is a Basic Studio Fee, which is the daily rate for the job.
Do we get feedback?
Unfortunately due to the volume of candidates that attend the castings, the Casting Directors and clients rarely give individual feedback, however if we receive any, of course we pass it on.
How last minute are castings?
Timescales vary however castings are often with very little notice (i.e. the next day) Please note it is essential that you are flexible and available for castings in order to work with STL successfully.
How do I join?
Firstly I would just pick up the phone and have a chat with one of our Agents. That way you can get a real feel for the company and the people that work here. You’ll then be asked to go online and register and upload some photos of your child, and to fill-in the application. Please ensure you fill-in as much detail as possible to give you the best chance of joining STL.
What to Expect
• Regular contact with our agents via telephone & email
• You may be called in for a casting with as little as 24hrs notice & be expected to attend. 99% of castings will be in London.
• An out of office hours contact number will be given.
• Once you have been selected to meet with a Casting Director or client your Agent will contact you to let you know where and when. Typically they are out of school time; however there could be a time when you are called during school hours. You will need authorisation from the school to attend.
• Some castings are paid and some aren’t.
• First impressions are everything. Please ensure you attend with this in mind –
natural and minimal. No make up, and certainly no acrylic nails etc.
• Like most agencies, we insist on having sole representation of our clients, and ask that all work offers be directed to us. There are various reasons for this. For example, if you are represented by more than one agency you will be put forward for some of the same jobs. Naturally, our clients and Casting Directors do not like this, due to the clear conflict of interest.
We also need to know when our clients are available and what jobs they are doing as our talent may be booked for two jobs in a day. We must always ensure that child performance regulations are being adhered to, meaning we must be aware of our client’s schedules; it may also be that we’ve previously declined a job as we have concerns about it.
• There is a £25 activation fee for all successful applicants.
For over 5’s, we also expect you to join Spotlight, which requires an annual registration (this is currently £100 and direct with them, although you have to have an agent to join). We will also invite you in for a photo-shoot, which you’ll need to pay for, this will be £139. This will ensure you have photos suitable for your Spotlight profile as well as an in-house profile, which our clients will have access too.
Managing your profile
• It is the parents responsibility to manage their childs profile, and update all measurements and photos regularly. If your child is 0-3, we recommend you update the profile every two weeks. If your child is 4-14 years old, our recommendation is to update every 4 weeks. After this, the photos and measurements can be updated every six months.
• We do not accept photos with Snapchat filters or screenshots of other photos. • Please always keep us posted with any change of appearance – missing teeth, braces and piercings, or any new hairstyles.
• If you are going away on holiday or are unavailable for castings for any particular reason, please always let us know so that we do not suggest you to clients. If we have not been told that you are unavailable, and subsequently put you up for castings that you then cannot attend, clients are advised that we operate a three strikes and out rule. Of course, any urgent illnesses or family issues are taken into account.
CPL (Child Performance Licence)
• Please see the ‘Guide to Child Performance Licensing' document, which explains exactly when and where the document should be issued.
• It is always down to the production company to apply for the CPL, however they will sometimes ask us to apply on their behalf. You will be asked to provide the following: a part 2 document (that you will have received), your child’s birth certificate and a school note (if they are five or over and the production is taking place during school time). Please see the attached school authority note for an example of this.
• Please ensure you always keep us up-to-date if your child changes school or moves into a new address.
• It is increasingly common for Casting Directors and clients to ask the talent to ‘self tape’ instead of bringing them in for an initial meeting. This simply involves filming yourself reading the provided lines, using a smartphone or tablet (or DSLR if you have one). If they like what they see on the tape, the talent will be invited to meet with them in person. You may even secure the role from the self- tape!
• In order to stand out from the crowd and give yourself the best possible chance, it is essential you follow a few simple rules:
• Firstly, choose a brightly lit room to record in, and make sure you’re against a plain background – white is best. Unless you’re told otherwise, you only need the head and shoulders in frame. Don’t film in a super high
quality resolution, or the resulting file will be huge, and it’ll take you ages to upload it.
• Secondly, ask a parent or friend to operate the camera, and to read the other characters’ lines. They should make sure that they are not too close to microphone, and that they speak quietly, otherwise their voice will be much louder than yours!
• Thirdly, use a tripod if you can. Wobbly camera work is distracting, and detracts from a good performance. If you don’t have one, improvise! If you’re using an iPhone, a blob of blu-tak and a suitably high surface will do.
• Fourth, make sure you hold the camera in a landscape orientation, not portrait. If you’re not sure what this means, look at your TV set - your video should look like that, wider than it is tall. This is the number one error that self-tapers make, and it ensures that your video looks amateurish.
• Finally, when you’re finished, send the videos to us using a file transfer service; we like WeTransfer.com. It’s free and straightforward to use. Just visit the website in your browser, type in your address and the recipients address, attach the file and hit send.
• If you’re using a smartphone or tablet to record, you can download the free WeTransfer app, which allows you to send the video directly from the Photos folder on your device.
• You should only send videos to us; please do not upload them yourself to YouTube or similar. In many cases the script that you are asked to film are confidential, and its important that it doesn’t get leaked out to the public.
• For kids, doing the voice of their favourite cartoon characters is a dream come true. All of this is possible in the world of VO’s. What are we talking about?
• Voiceover is the audio (sound) portion of any entertainment project that is recorded at a different time to the visual portion. In other words, it is a disembodied voice. The person who appears may record dialogue or sound effects on camera elsewhere in the project, or a specialist voiceover actor may perform it. You hear voiceovers all the time. Opportunities for kids exist in TV & radio commercials, video games, audio books and of course, cartoon series!
• Useful skills for your child to have in order to qualify for voiceover projects are: to read well, have improvisation skills and articulate well, have patience and the capability for physical stillness, have the ability to sit for long periods of time, and to be able to take direction well.
Spotlight is the UK’s most popular Casting Directory. This service connects performers with roles in the theatre, television and film. Most casting professionals choose Spotlight to cast their projects and whilst it isn’t compulsory, STL would strongly advise any committed aspiring actor to join as this will open up further exciting opportunities for you. You will need an Agent to join, so if you are interested please do contact the office and we will help you proceed further.
What is a chit?
A document that the client hands to you at a filming day (this does not include commercials or a photographic job). This document acts as a recording of sums owed, which will be handed to your agency to invoice the client.
Checklist – Have You:
• Filled in the part 2 document; attached, signed and sent back to us?
• Sent in a copy of your child’s birth certificate & a passport style headshot?
• Read through the guide to the Children's Performance Licence?
• Arranged a meeting with your child’s school to advise the Head Teacher that your child is now with a Talent Agency and will potentially require a day off from time to time (you will need the school authorisation note – attached)
• Read through this document and the FAQ’s on our website in full?
Call Sheet - A document normally produced by the 2nd AD or production co- ordinator. Given to all the crew, agents and talent a couple of days before the shoot so everyone knows the schedule for the day.
BSF - Basic Studio Fee - This is the daily fee the talent is paid to shoot, excluding all other fees such as usage, etc.
Pencil/Option - A provisional booking, yet to be confirmed. Sometimes talent may be given a heavy pencil. This means the talent is very likely to be booked but still not confirmed.
Self-tape - Sometimes a casting director may request talent to record a self- tape in lieu or prior to meeting them for a casting. For TV/Film, they’ll be required to read from a script. For commercials and stills, they may just want to see them being themselves, answering a few questions.
Buyout/Usage fee - This is a fee the client pays talent to buy the rights of use of their appearance in their commercial or stills shot. This fee is only applicable if the talent is clearly visible in the final cut and the rate paid depends on the following:
- Media (e.g., online, billboard, broadcast, print, point of sale, etc) - Territory (e.g. UK, France, EU, Global etc)
- Term (e.g. 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, in perpetuity etc)
Call Time – The time that the talent is expected to turn up for workWrap - This indicates the end of the filming day.
Child performance licence - A legal document issued by a child’s local council, granting them permission to work on set.
Unit Base - where the cast and crew meet and where the talent will check-in with the production co-ordinator or AD.
AD - the Assistant Director(s) who run the film set. 1st AD, 2nd AD, Crowd 2nd AD (this is the person who works with the extras), 3rd AD and runner (in that order of hierarchy)
The Holding area - Where the talent will wait to be called to the set.
Costume - Is what the talent will wear on set. The Costume Department usually
provides this, but sometimes they will ask the talent to bring some options.
The Set - Where the filming actually takes place (often a walk or ride from the unit base if it’s not in a studio)
A Chit - a document signed by the talent and AD after a days’ work. There will be 3 copies - one for the talent to keep as a record, one for production and one for the agents to invoice. This is usually only required for TV and film, not commercial or photographic shoots.
Double - For children, doubles are used to ensure they are working within legal hours. Usually shot from long distance or from behind, or for a part of the body such as hands and feet.
Stand In - A person used in place of an Actor to set up initial lighting and camera. Usually of a similar height age and skin tone to the Actor.
Walk On - A step up from a background extra, someone the viewer is more likely to identify as an individual character, who may have a few words to say.