10 questions with a casting director
Every one wants to be a star! My little guy has asked me to be on TV and of course I really have to think about this one. My brother was a child actor and yes, at times it was exciting and glamorous, but, believe it or not it is a lot of hard work and a bigtime commitment. So many parents are curious about how to get their kids started in showbiz, we spoke to Julie J. Fitzsimmons, principle of Jules Casting, who some shed light on the audition process. We think you’ll find it enlightening!
1. Does a child need an agent before auditioning in front of a casting director?
Having an agent is a huge advantage, but there are other open call avenues that some Casting Directors use. For example, I have an online form where anyone can sign up to receive E-blasts for Jules Casting Open Call notifications signup.julescasting.com. I also make announcements using social media like twitter @JulesCasting
*NOTE* there are MANY scams out there so it’s extremely important to do your due diligence and research before you decide to submit your child to something. I can’t stress it enough. NEVER give money up front. That’s why it really is in your best interest to have an agent who can submit your child to all the castings in the city. They will be more familiar with who the industry professionals are.
2. What special talents or personality traits does a casting director look for when auditioning children?
I look for children who are confident, listen well and take our direction. Often kids are very confident but there are many that come into the casting room who get shy. It’s an intimidating experience but some children come in with absolutely no fear! It’s amazing to see!
3. Are there certain desired looks or trends these days in casting for TV/Films?
No, every casting is different so it would pertain to the specific job I’m working on.
4. Is a parent allowed in the room when a child is auditioning?
I can’t speak for other Casting Directors but I don’t allow parents in the room. Children often look to their parent for support or approval and most times it’s to the detriment of the child’s performance. I run a fun show, so the Jules Casting team will always make sure it’s an enjoyable experience for the kids.
5. Should a child dress the part when auditioning? For example, if you are casting for a period film, should a child dress appropriately?
This is another question that is specific to each Casting Director or even client. I like people to dress the role, so it adds to my visual of seeing them in the scene. This doesn’t mean they have to go purchase a costume/wardrobe for every audition. For example, if you’re auditioning for a role as an elf in a Christmas movie, wear red and green. If the part is for a private school student, perhaps dress in white shirt, grey or black bottoms similar to a uniform. Though I have heard that some Casting Directors do not like this, when we schedule auditions we’ll include wardrobe details in the prep notes so you would know ahead of time.
6. How important are good head shots to a casting director?
They’re important, but what’s more important is to keep them REAL. Do not jazz your child up in hair and make-up. It’s beneficial to have a couple of options, perhaps one casual and one dressed up. Also, children grow quickly so it’s important to get head shots updated.
7. What are some tips to help parents/children prepare for an audition?
Memorize the lines as best as they can, do some improvisation with them for the scene and just remind them it’s about being creative and having fun.
8. How long does an audition usually last?
Usually parents should be prepared to stay between 20 – 30 minutes at the Casting Studio. You’ll often be asked to fill in forms, then wait until it’s time for the child to come in the room. The audition itself could be 5-15 minutes, but it all depends on the project.
9. What can a child performer expect for a rate of pay for one day’s work?
Rates really vary from job to job, but I always tell actors in the beginning of their career to get out and volunteer for as many shoots (low budget/short films/school projects) as possible to gain more confidence and experience.
10. Any tips on how to wow a casting director or leave a lasting impression?
Be polite, do the best job you can and have fun!
About Jules Casting
Julie J. Fitzsimmons founder of Jules Casting has been working as an independent Casting Director in Toronto since 2004. Casting TV Hosts, Commercials, Reality Shows, Series, Feature Films, Live Events and voice with a long list of production clients. For over 10 years Jules has been casting and collaborating with many of the major networks including: MuchMusic, Comedy, E!, Oprah’s Network ‘OWN’, CTV, MTV, Slice, OLN, The Score, Sportnet, Rogers, CityTV, M3, Cosmo, Space, WNetwork, CMT, Bell Media, Discovery and TMN.
Jules is a Canadian Screen Award Member and has been invited to sit on the jury for the last four years. Her work has played an important role in over 30 award-winning promos, including multiple Promax Awards, a Gemini nomination for guest-hosting with Daily Planet, a Gemini Nomination, as well as a Gold Remi for On-Screen Talent and Television Series/Comedy for Ed’s Up.