by Mary Wheeler | Posted Sept. 10, 2012, 4:47 p.m
Lana Veenker, CSA, ICDN, founder and president of Cast Iron Studios, shares these eight tips on how kids can standout at commercial auditions. Veenker and Cast Iron Studios have been casting commercials for 14 years including everything from small regional spots and PSAs to international campaigns for clients like Nike, Intel, Nintendo, Apple, Colgate, BMW, Ford, and Chrysler.
1. Look like your headshot.
It doesn't make sense to spend a fortune on kids' headshots, since they'll need to be updated frequently. However, it's crucial that they reflect how the child currently looks. If your child is 9, but his/her photo shows them at 7, they'll get passed over when we're looking for nine-year-olds. They'll also get called in mistakenly when we're looking for seven-year-olds, which is a waste of everyone's time. (A headshot photographer once told me, "If you're getting called in for the wrong jobs, you're not getting called in for the right ones.")
If the headshot is outdated, include a recent snapshot along with the headshot, so that casting directors have a clear understanding of what the child looks like now. Also be sure to include his or her date of birth and current height/weight information on the resume.
2. Dress appropriately for your age and the role.
When we're casting kids, we want kids who look like kids. Girls should not show up caked in make-up, teetering in heels or wearing inappropriately provocative clothing. Little boys don't need to be squeezed into their Sunday best with itchy collars and their hair slicked down unnaturally. How would they normally look on a school day? Certainly take the role into consideration - tomboy or ballerina, bully or bookworm? - but when in doubt, school attire is usually fine.
3. Be prepared to take an adjustment.
We want to make sure child actors can change their delivery in the room. This reassures us that they can take direction, if the director wants to try something different. But child actors (and their too-eager-to-help parents) often make the mistake of drilling lines so many times in the exact same way while rehearsing, that they're incapable of changing when requested. No matter how many adjustments the casting director gives them during the audition, they repeat their lines identically, all the way down to their hand gestures.