Casting babies is a lot of fun, but it can be full of challenging surprises as well. As all parents know, one minute your little darling is an angel and then in an instant, they start hurling anything within arms reach at the grocery store checkout cashier. Location has no bearing on the dramatic potential of the little star playing out a scene and casting sessions are not exempt! So what should you know about the process?
Well, one of the challenges with casting babies is that just about every time we do a casting call for little ones we have to find new faces. Their looks change so fast that we’re constantly in need of a new roster. One tip to any parent with a little one in the business is to keep tabs on their headshots and pictures. As soon as your baby starts to age out of the pictures, please replace them with current shots. Make sure you check their portfolios on every casting database you use every 3–6 months. When we send your baby’s photos to our clients, we always want to make sure the photos reflect how your child actor currently looks.
If you’re then called to bring in your baby for an audition, please be sure to reflect on when a typical good time of the day occurs for them at this point in the process. If you’re offered an audition time slot that is not optimal for your child as far as their nap or feeding schedule, then please let us know and we’ll try to work you in at another time of day. You want them to have napped and eaten before coming in so that you can stave off two possible catalysts for any adverse behavior. Be sure to bring some of your child’s favorite snacks, bottles, binkies, animals, rattles, or whatever is your go-to for making them happy in a jam. Also, arrive early. If they typically fall asleep in the car, the extra time will give them the chance to wake-up before their audition begins!
For the session, nine times out of 10 we’ll want them to smile, laugh, or look up at the camera, so bring your best animal impersonations, squeaky toy, or whatever makes them giggle. Don’t worry, we know the experience could be stressful for you too, so we’ll make sure to keep the session short and sweet. After the initial audition, we might have a callback session but it depends on how big the job is and if we’re putting together a family. Also sometimes the client wants to see if the baby will let a perfect stranger (i.e. actor playing the “mom” or “dad”) hold them as well as their general disposition. Both of which will warrant a callback session. Most of the time, though, we will cast from the initial audition.
Please don’t bring your other children to any session with you, if at all possible. It can complicate focus. I’m a mom, so I get it. Finding a sitter is hard. I understand if you need to bring them with you, but sometimes my client won’t and if there’s not enough room in the lobby then they’ll end up in the room for the session. The main reason, though, is that we want to focus on your baby. After all, they’re the one interviewing for the job! If you’re going to start taking your little one to sessions, it’s a good idea to line someone up to watch their siblings in a pinch
Also, just in case your baby is sick, having a bad day, or just insists upon giving the director the old cashier treatment from the grocery store, it’s good for you to know that we usually will book an understudy baby (or two) for the same role. It’s a contingency plan we’ll use often for toddlers and infants. So, if your baby receives the part and you see other babies arrive on set with you, just know they are probably there for back-up. When I was helping find little ones for the Netflix documentary “Babies,” we did just that. I had several lined up on hold, waiting to fill in if the lead baby wasn’t feeling up to the role on the shoot day
Since you’ve decided to introduce your baby to the world of acting, there’s no doubt in your mind they’re adorable. Make sure they’re also great with strangers, noise, lights, and lots of activity. That’s what they’ll need to make a good candidate for this business. If they’re generally moody, shy, or sensitive you may want to wait until they’re older when they’ve had a chance to work on their performing skills. Then try them out later if they’re interested. Lastly but most importantly, before you start calling talent agencies for representation, take into consideration your child's happiness factor. If they love the spotlight, they’ll find it!
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.