When talking about parents at auditions, Lisa Hamil put it best: “Parents can’t help a child actor get a job, but they can lose the job for the child.” Your kid’s talents and dreams are all for nothing if you end up being the one that sabotages auditions. Here’s how not to do that.
Why do casting directors care so much about the parents?
When your kid gets cast, you’re likely to spend just as much time on set as they will. You’ll have to bring them on time, you’ll have to deal with their tantrums, you’ll have to support them on good days and bad.
At the same time, you’ll have to be invisible. You’ll have to let the filming process run its course; let directors guide your kid without interrupting with unsolicited advice. You’ll have to make sure your kid is rested and feels ready for every day of shooting.
In other words – you and the production crew will see a lot of each other. If you’re not easy to work with, you’ll bring a lot of problems to the set and nobody wants that. This is why casting directors DO pay attention to parents during the casting process.
When do they audition the parent or guardian?
There’s no separate audition for the parent, of course. However throughout the audition process the casting director will see enough of you to make a judgment. They’ll take note of the small interactions you have before and after the audition, they’ll observe how your kid behaves around you.
The amount of parent to casting director interaction differs from audition to audition. Sometimes parents are invited into the audition along with their kids. Sometimes casting directors make a point to have a quick chat with the parents before or after the audition. Sometimes all you get is a “hello” and “we’ll be in touch if your kid is chosen”.
Whatever the scenario, the casting director will form an opinion about you. To not hurt your kid’s chances at landing the gig, the opinion better be a good one.
What do casting directors look for in the parent?
Mainly it’s 2 things – your relationship with your kid and what kind of person you are. Generally speaking, there are no specific “right” characteristics for the parent.
Being friendly & charismatic is always great, but when it comes to auditions, it’s more about what kind of person you are not. Casting directors are likely to avoid bossy & pushy people, as well as those that mistreat their kids.
What do casting directors notice about you as a PARENT?
Casting directors have seen and worked with a lot of families. As a result, they’ve seen all sorts of family dynamics and can easily pick up on things that are off. For instance, does the kid clearly not want to be here? Are they constantly looking to you for direction? Does the kid want to be an actor/model, or are you forcing this on them? Is the kid rested and fed? Are they afraid of you scolding them? Are you so overbearing, that they would be lost without you?
At the end of the day, your kid’s personality, positivity, and passion for becoming an actor/model matter the most. If you, as a parent, are in any way negatively affecting any of those things – it’s a bad sign for the casting director.
On the other hand, if you’re supportive, kind, and here to help your kid live their dream, the casting director will notice that too.
Here’s an easy way to think about it: at an audition, be the cheerleader, not the coach.
What do casting directors notice about you as a PERSON?
Everyone – the casting director, the stars, everyone involved in film production – wants one thing. That is the timely and efficient completion of the project at hand. In the entertainment industry every aspect of the shooting costs money. From location and equipment rent, to wages for everyone involved – time truly is money. Any delay, no matter how small, is going to incur extra expenses.
With this in mind, it’s understandable that first and foremost casting directors want a parent that won’t impede production in any way. Reliability, punctuality, discipline and being considerate are key virtues. So be on time, make sure all documents are in order, don’t bother the CDs with irrelevant questions, and be the person they need you to be.
That being said, you’re not an emotionless zombie and nobody expects you to be one. In other words, please be yourself – let your enthusiasm shine through, be supportive and friendly. But avoid being too intrusive, opinionated, self-centered.
They’re looking for a person that will make the production crew’s life easier. Be that person.
4 quick practical tips
- Don’t ask if your kid got the part after the audition – it’s unprofessional and chances are the casting director hasn’t decided yet.
- Always be 15 minutes early – there’s a saying in the casting industry that goes “15 minutes early is on time, on time is late.” Live by it.
- Don’t interrupt the casting process – unless given explicit permission, don’t take photos, don’t help your kid during the audition, don’t interrupt the audition with questions, mute your phone.
- Bring your kid’s favorite snacks to put them in a good mood – casting directors love happy kids.
Keep in mind
Let’s return to the quote we started with: “Parents can’t help a child actor get a job, but they can lose the job for the child.”
At the end of the day, it’s your kid’s performance at the audition that matters the most. Make sure they’re confident, know their lines, and look professional. Once at the audition, all YOU have to do is be a decent human being and show your kid the support they need & deserve.
CDs sometimes audition 100s of kids in a single day, which means they meet just as many parents. Chances are they won’t remember you. And that’s a good thing – all the focus is on your kid, which is the way it should be.
- Be the cheerleader, not the coach.
- Be the kind of person that would make the production crew’s day better & life easier.
Good luck & if you have any other insights – share them in the comments below!
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