“BRINGING OUT THE CREATIVITY AND CONFIDENCE IN EVERY STUDENT”

Agency Information

JK’s Performance Academy offer a children’s agency in Aberdare. Children are selected to take part in film and television. Sometimes children will just be used for crowd scenes (Supporting Artists) or on other occasions they will be picked to speak lines in featured parts. For featured roles children will be required to attend an audition. Our agency enables students to be given the chance to be sent for auditions and film major feature films and tv shows. We aim to run the agency with a very personal touch and knowing each student we represent very well. We have had students attend hundreds of auditions and have had a very successful run so far. Parents who are interested in signing their children with us should read the information below, an honest review of what it takes to sign to an agency.

IS JOINING AN ACTING OR MODELLING AGENCY RIGHT FOR MY CHILD?

There is a big difference between a child who enjoys singing, dancing or drama classes and a child who is cut out for professional television and film work. Joining an agency isn’t for the faint hearted, it takes dedication and commitment from the parents as well as the child.

There are some huge factors to take into consideration;

Do you have the availability to travel back and forth to London for castings? Are you in a job that allows you to take time off work at really short notice? Most of the castings are very short notice – on many occasions you are lucky if you get 24 hours’ notice to travel. Castings are 90% in London – hardly ever in Cardiff. Occasionally we get calls for Bristol, Cardiff or Birmingham, but it is pretty rare!

What about the cost of getting to London? Some people think that this will be covered by the agency or casting company, but, unfortunately, it isn’t. Auditions are occasionally paid, but that £18 won’t get you very far out of Wales.

If you have several children, work long shifts and struggle to get time off work if your child is ill, then this isn’t the business for you. The key to getting the auditions is to show that you are available at short notice, that you can drop everything to be at a certain place by a certain time even if it is 170 miles away and you have a five hour megabus journey ahead of you. Be prepared to go, and be prepared to have an annoyed agent at the end of the phone if you aren’t willing to travel. A lot of time and effort goes into the casting process. Your agent has hunted for these jobs, put your child in for them, had an email exchange with a casting director and ‘sold’ your child to them (in the loosest term of the word!). They’ve been picked from hundreds of applicants because of your agent’s hard work- all to be told you can’t do it as you have the doctors, are ill, leg fallen off (you name the excuse, we’ve heard it, and so have the casting directors). Availability checks are done when there is time, but otherwise, that agent is saying yes on your behalf before even speaking to you. You need to let us know of any holidays you’ve booked or any days you really can’t do.

Sometimes, and more recently, castings are being done by self tape, which means doing the first round of the audition from the comfort of your own home. This is great when you live in the hills of wales. A self tape should be treated with the same respect as an audition. Get some good lighting on in the house and make sure your child learns the scene they’ve been given. If its improv, think about what you are going to say. Read the brief very carefully. If they want a youtube style blogger, get the camera angle right, get it close. If its for a film and they set a scene, involve the things they ask, wide angle the camera, get it as close to the real thing as you can. Smart phones have come a long way and they are great for using for self tapes. Email the video on to your agent. Never contact the director yourself (if your agent has accidentally left the details on.. whoops!). A tape coming from the agent directly looks much more professional and they also know what the director wants to know. Trust them, they know the lingo. Get the tape in well before the deadline, the agent may not be happy with it and would like it done again – allow time for this.

That is not to say that if your child gets an audition/self tape, they’ll get the role. For every 20 children called to the audition, maybe 18 of them will get a no while two of them will get a recall (which means going back to London to be seen again). This can be really disappointing for children – some take it on the chin, others get a bit upset about it when they know they did well. The reason they got a no could be something as simple as height (we hardly ever get feedback), and sometimes we don’t even get a no until a few weeks later when we see the pencils for a job have been released. Even if your child gets a pencil (which means you have to keep the dates for filming free), it still doesn’t mean they get the job. You only know the job is theirs when we get it confirmed by the casting director, Sometimes a child might get a no because of an issue with an out of date profile. You’ll need to log into your child’s profile regularly to update height and weight, shoe size and let the agent know of any changes; has your child attained a new swimming badge, learned a new accent, learned to horse ride or anything else significant that could be counted as a skill. Let us know this stuff, it’s useful. Send us some up to date pictures, get new headshots done regularly. Kids grow and change very quickly.

So, you’ve been on an agent’s books a few months and not secured a casting, this isn’t because the agent is rubbish, this is because the right calls haven’t come in, or that the criteria they’ve asked for doesn’t fit your child’s profile. You can ask any agent to send you a list of what your child has been submitted for – although, not too often as agents are busy people. We don’t have time to update our twitter feed every three minutes with every call that’s come in and every child we’ve submitted for what job and which role. And doing this really does annoy the casting directors, agents are supposed to be discreet with what jobs are coming in and what is casting as they don’t want the world and his wife trying to find the company and demand that their child be seen. We want your child to get as many castings as they can, as if they get a yes, we are all happy. An agency usually works on commission, so your child getting a role means the agent gets paid too, otherwise, we don’t.

It has been known that you can get as far as being given a role and even to be sent a script and contract. Then for the job to be ‘pulled’ which means its not going ahead after all. This could be for a wide range of issues and nothing to do with you as an actor. It’s something that is totally out of our hands. This unfortunately means that there will be no payment and all contracts are cancelled. This can be really disappointing for kids, the build up and then deflation.

The agency can be really rewarding, you’ve gone to 10 castings and got 9 ‘nopes’ but then comes the call that you’ve got the job. Hallelujah! Back to London for a wardrobe fitting paid at a grand total of £50. Sometimes they’ll put this the week before the filming takes place, so that’s a long trip for £50. But the filming makes up for it, they love it and its everything they imagined and more. They have told everyone they know. In their mind they are a megastar and all the hard work and disappointment, self doubt and feelings of rejection have gone. And you’ve done all that work for the sheer thrill on that child’s face in that moment. Well done parents. (But take a book or some work to do, as you may be waiting around for hours while your child is on set and in between scenes!)

And then there’s licenses! If you are a child under 16 (or just over 16 but still to complete your GCSE’s) you are going to need a license to work. These are usually handled by the agent, but parents need to sign them, provide a letter from your Headteacher allowing you the time off school and complete a medical declaration to say you are fit and healthy. Pretty straight forward on the parent front and they usually take 7 days minimum to authorise by the council (most councils say 21 days). The experience we have had with the schools in the Rhondda Cynon Taff Borough has been really positive and the schools have all been supportive- and even supported the last minute days off school required for an audition.

Last but not least commission and buyouts, there is a standard 20% commission rate taken from money earned by a client from the agency. This is the usual going rate and isn’t really negotiable. For each filming day you are paid a BSF (Basic Studio Fee) this is straight forward you have been there and worked so you will get paid for that like a normal working day.

Buyouts are a different story- they vary massively depending on the type of job, if its an advert, it usually has a few different buyout categories depending on how many years the ad runs for, which country it is used in and many other factors, this is clearly written into the contract. Films are relatively straight forward with one buyout for the whole duration. BUT, the buyout has terms attached, so if you have been on set for a full day and filmed a scene, you will have your BSF with no stress, however, when the final edit is done, you are told that the bit of filming you feature in isn’t used in the final edit, you would then not be eligible for the buyout. This seems really unfair, but the rule of thumb is, if you aren’t featured, the buyout isn’t needed. As I’ve said before, it’s a tough industry and not for the faint of heart.

©Julia Kelleher

For any other questions, or to view our client portfolio, please contact info@jksperformanceacademy.co.uk or phone 07852901616 / 01685 882525

There are a lot of scam agencies out there, they try and sell a large package as part of the agency, this isn’t necessary, it is actually illegal to charge a ‘sign up’ fee to join an agency, many sell it as a ‘package’. Some reputable agencies also charge a yearly subscription or admin fee- this isn’t something I personally think is fair and any fees should come out of the first job IF they are necessary. Please be really careful when you see this kind of agency, your child doesn’t need a portfolio of pictures that has cost you hundreds of pounds, your child needs a few decent headshots done by a professional (or someone with a decent camera and a youtube tutorial) to start off and these shouldn’t cost over £100. Our agency works on a group sign up and we have a day with our photographer where everyone covers the cost of the photographer by chipping in a bit as we have a very local photographer that takes some very good headshots that have had us a lot of success. We are here to give your child a boost up the ladder with experience, not make hundreds of pounds out of you before getting your child any experience. Agencies don’t tend to advertise with ‘MODELS WANTED’ sponsored posts on facebook, if anything, a good agency will have people asking them about whether they can sign them and have an application process. Please be careful when you see those types of facebook posts as writing your child’s full name, age and location on a facebook public post is something that should be discouraged, this is my personal view. Spotlight is a useful tool for all clients and costs £98 for a years subscription, a new addition is that it can be paid monthly by direct debit. It is something parents can also log into and check on. A really great addition but not a necessity.