Back in 2009 when we moved to the Vancouver area my son was in Grade 5 and had stars in his eyes. Our experience into the world of talent agents and the film industry was short lived and educational.
Here were my thoughts back in 2009:
The upside to moving to the Vancouver area is the large film industry here. My son has been asking me to take acting classes and get an acting agent for years now and I've finally relented. Hopefully he can make enough money to afford college since the expense of living here is eating up all our money.
He's been going to Kid's Only Acting School in Whiterock and he really enjoys it. What I like about the school is they are NOT pushy and seem to be very well respected. The teachers there have experience, years of it, and are really helpful. Read more...
Here's what I learned about being a mom of a budding actor.
The first thing you need to know is that the parent has to be as committed to the career as the child. This isn't a 'fun activity' to do. It is a part time and, in some cases, a full time job for the parent.
It's a real job during normal business hours, evenings, and weekends. You will find out about auditions approximately 12 - 24 hours earlier. He will have to leave school and if you had plans, you'll have to cancel them to get him to his audition.
When they film you have to be on set all day with your child. It's boring just sitting there all day waiting for his turn.
You must like to drive. When your child gets an audition you must drive them there and it will take all of five minutes for them to do their thing and then you'll drive them home. In my case, that was an hour an a half of driving, 20 - 30 minutes of waiting, and 5 minutes for his audition.
Don't forget the investment because acting classes are not cheap and they need to be schools recognized by Casting Agents, not some community centre group.
The competition is fierce. There are fewer boys than girls trying to gain a foothold in the film industry, however, you will still need to go to lots of auditions to book a commercial and if you're lucky a TV show or movie.
Your child must prep, which means no matter the role, you can't just show up. That means homework for both of you.
The good news.
An audition is a job interview and the skills your boy will learn auditioning can be valuable for the work force. Boys need to stand up in front of adults they don't know and convince them that he is the right person for the part.
It's a real job and he can put it on his resume. When my son started looking for a regular part time job his resume had real work experience.
He will learn about rejection. My son auditioned for role after role before he finally booked a commercial. Once he booked a TV role, then the whole project was shelved before it even got started. My son heard no, faced disappointment, and kept going.
If your son books a commercial or a part in a series or movie he will learn what it means to work in the real world. He'll have to show up even if he doesn't feel like it. This isn't a game, it's the real world where money is being spent and they expect children to be as professional as their adult counterparts.
My son's child acting career ended when I went back to work. He's a teenager now and can get to auditions on his own, but he has school, friends, a girlfriend, guitar, and a part time apprenticeship. No time for auditions.
If he goes back it will be as an adult because I'm not driving anymore.
Shannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN and is currently working on Book 2 in the series about a boy, his mom, a cop, and an invading army. She has brought war to a North American town to answer the question, what if it happened here?
Click to go to her website.