How it works
This is a guide to help you understand how the process of being a child actor/performer works.
Getting started with D & V Casting
Following a successful casting audition with our casting team, you will be required to complete a registration form and make arrangements to have head shots taken. Any fees payable for headshots will be paid to photographer, but an expensive portfolio not required. These headshots will be placed on the
D & V website, your spotlight membership page* , Casting Networks page and used for submitting your child for other possible opportunities.
Things to note –
*Your child will require a bank account for any payments they gain from paid professional work.
*If your child’s appearance changes after each year’s headshots, you must inform us, as we need a true likeness of your child for the submissions, changes could include, braces, new hairstyle etc.
* Set up a WeTransfer account (free) on your device/phone, ready in case a self-tape request comes through.
* Some jobs are overseas, so ensure your child’s passport is up to date with 6 months left to expiry. We will presume that your child has a valid passport unless you tell us otherwise.
Spotlight is a casting platform where casting directors submit jobs that we use to submit our child actors, the directors can also search from the spotlight data base. It is beneficial to each and every child over the age of 4 to have a spotlight account as it makes being found and submitted much easier.
However, spotlight is chargeable with a yearly fee, paid yearly in advance direct to Spotlight with the option to pay monthly after the first year. Having a spotlight membership also means that we can submit you child for spotlight exclusive roles, along with other membership benefits.
We ask all parents/guardians to set aside a short amount of time, once a month, to update their child’s spotlight account and check height details, playing age and any professional work gained on their CV, plus any skills they have, i.e. dancing, sports etc. We are happy to help you with this if required.
All we ask is that once you have updated their profile it would be helpful to us if you could drop us a text / email to let us know. Please research -
Once you and your child have made the decision to try for professional acting/performance work, it is something you have to take seriously and be committed to. Once a child is on our books, we submit the children for each and every job that they fill the brief for. We will explain this process a little more shortly.
Auditions are very often last minute with as little as 24 hours’ notice. Most auditions are held in London, Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff so please ensure when you sign up that travel is something that is possible, both for your time and financial commitment.
You have to ensure that you are able to get your child to the auditions. Its always a good idea to get grandparents or friends onboard in case you are unable to do a short notice audition. Sadly, if this isn’t something that is possible for you or your family, in person auditions may not be possible for your child and that could reduce their opportunities.
More and more we are also asked for self-tape first round castings. These are auditions that you film at home and are submitted to the casting directors.
We will apply for work within Film, TV, Stage, Musical Theatre, Commercials, Internet, Music Videos, Education, Events, Student Films and when required Voice Overs, Stills and Fashion Shoots.
When we refer to submissions, this is the process that we take for suggesting your child for any jobs applicable. For those children on Spotlight, they also have the opportunity for spotlight members exclusive role submission.
Each and every job is different and some ask for specific characteristic and yet some don’t really know what they are looking for other than age/ gender and they know when they meet ‘that’ child.
Every casting call that comes in where we feel your child fits the brief, we submit them with their headshots, CV (if have had previous work) and a brief narrative.
It is important to be aware, that this is a very competitive industry and anywhere between 250 – 2500 children can be submitted for any single job.
If your child is accepted to audition this is great. Casting Directors request to see those who they think fit the brief and although they will be seeing many children, it gets your child in the door and seen and hopefully remembered if not suited for that particular role/job. Each and every audition is great experience for your child, a real confidence booster and to be enjoyed not endured!
Sadly as so many children are submitted we only ever hear from those who are called to audition from submission or self tapes.
Getting an audition.
This is great news for any child considered for an audition and a real achievement! You will be sent a brief which will include audition date, time and location. A character brief and any scripts to learn if required (not all roles require script work) the brief will also include the filming dates; please ensure you check these and make sure you alert us immediately if your child is not available for these dates.
For all auditions with scripts it’s important that the child knows their lines and is ‘off book’ which means they know their lines without the script in hand. Discuss with your child the character brief and tempo of the dialogue, i.e. happy/ sad/ angry scenes etc.
Relax and enjoy! Auditions should be fun for the child and not a stressful situation. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good they are in the room if there is someone else with the right look then they may go with them. Remember, your child has been seen and possibly remembered for other potential roles even if they didn’t get this job. Plus gained valuable experience of the audition room. No audition is ever a waste of time, no matter what the outcome or how short it is.
Upon arrival, some will ask you to complete a form with child’s name, age, date of birth , agency details, you will need to know your child’s measurements (heights, waist, chest, hip, inside leg, shoe size) They may take a photo in the waiting area, this is to go with the child’s paperwork so they know who is who when reviewing the auditions.
No audition is ever the same, your child will ask to do a slate to the camera, stating their name, age and agency (D & V casting), some will also ask the child to state their height too. If they have a script, they will be asked to do their scenes, generally filming just head and shoulders which require acting skills as relayed in the child showcasing their character in facial and dialogue expression. Sometimes also asked to follow direction or improvise in the room. So when you are learning scripts with your child don’t direct your child too much.
* For TV work don’t over-act, they are looking for a natural delivery, so it looks real.
* When thinking about what to wear for the audition, avoid prints or things that distract the camera / director from the child’s face. Think about the character also, if it’s a casual scene, don’t dress them in a smart shirt/ party dress. Dressing to character helps the casting team visualise the child as that character more.
More and more casting directors are requesting self-tapes. These are basically auditions that your film from home and should be treated respectfully as a one to one casting.
You can film from your phone in landscape. All audition tapes should start with a slate (child stating their name, age, agent and any other information requested). You will be given a deadline date (often very short) please ensure these are in on time.
It is best if all children are off book for self-tapes and self-tape guidelines followed as per instruction. Not necessarily word perfect but as near as possible.
Recalls / Pencils
Following a successful audition, children will often be recalled. This means they have been shortlisted and will be auditioned again, sometimes with the same material as before and they may be meeting the actual director or may be asked to learn/read a different script, perform a different dance or song etc. We suggest that you take the child to the audition in the same outfit as they originally auditioned in, they obviously liked the look from the first casting.
Pencil – This is the bit when we all get excited. It is a great achievement as the child has been shortlisted and they want you to ensure you keep the filming dates free. Sometimes we may start the licensing process and get the school permission letters, but please note that this is so we are prepared in case the ‘pencil’ turns to ‘confirmed’. There will be times when your child is ‘released’ (means dropped from being on pencil and no longer required). Sadly, this does happen. Keep positive that your child did really well to get this far and it would have been a difficult decision.
Unfortunately due to the number of children submitted and seen, we rarely get feedback. If we are given feedback for those who reach a final audition stage (please note that it is very unusual) we will of course pass this on.
This is the time you can get excited! Your child has been selected and confirmed for the role. Licences have been applied for/obtained from the council and contracts reviewed / signed with confirmation of pay. We will liaise with the production company and sometimes they will discuss directly with the parent/guardians regarding wardrobe, travel arrangements etc.
Most professional productions engage Licenced Professional Chaperones to look after your child. If you are a parent/guardian chaperone ensure that you are aware of safeguarding guidelines, licence conditions, procedures etc. Refer www.nncee.org.uk. Children need to be co-operative, listen and well behaved on and off set. Some production companies do not like children having devices such as iPads for many reasons so it is a good idea to have other things to entertain the child whilst waiting around, such as schoolwork, playing cards, books etc.
Meals, snacks and water will be provided throughout filming.
They will generally not get into costume until a short period before being called. These need to be looked after.
Generally, payment is made to us 8-10 weeks after the production has aired. Occasionally some payments can take as long as 6 months, and although not common practice, can happen. As soon as payment is made to us, we will forward on your child’s money (less 15% commission) to their nominated bank account. We are unable to pay any fees until we have received payment.
Casting - This is another term for acting role requirement
Audition – The audition is the process to show off your acting skills
Self-tape – Audition undertaken and recorded at home
Recall – second audition for same role
Pencil – shortlisting, must reserve dates, be prepared
Heavy pencil – very much in the running but still not selected
Confirmed – its official, you have been selected for the part
Released – no longer required
Directions – guidance given for what is required of you, they may ask you to do the same lines but under different directions (requirements)
BSF – Basic studio fee – this is the day rate that they are paying
Buyout fee – this is the usage fee and set for a people of term i.e. – 1-year usage
Off book - know your lines without need to read off script
Slate – this is the intro to the audition where the child states their name, age and agency
On set terminology
Sides – these are the pages of your script, often referred to as ‘sides’
Pink pages – When scenes / scripts are amended, this include dialogue changes, lines removed or added, they re- print those pages/scenes on pink paper so actors/crew are aware that these are changed scenes and that everyone has the correct version.
Quiet on set – This is to announce that they are about to get ready to film and everyone on or near set needs to be quiet
Rolling – the cameras are going to start recording
Action – prompt to start acting
Cut – Stop acting
Pick up – Error has been made in filming and they are picking up from the error point and redoing part of the scene.