What Not to Do at a Casting Call for Kids
Parents of child actors should realize that at an audition during a casting call, both the child and the parent are being judged on their performance. Casting directors want to know right off the bat that if they hire the child, the parent will be easy to work with as well. With that in mind, there are a number of things a parent can do to help increase the quality of the audition and the likelihood that their child will get the part.
Hello, Perform, Goodbye
A child should do three things when they enter a casting room: 1) They should clearly say "hello" and make eye contact with everyone in the room. Keep in mind that, more than likely, they won't need to mention their name as everyone in the room knew who would be next to audition. 2) They should perform their scene. 3) They should say "thank you" and "goodbye" and exit the room. They shouldn't ask how they did or when to expect a callback or any other such question. The casting director will find them if they need to.
Everyone makes mistakes in auditions; this is completely expected and natural. Casting directors are often quite patient and understand that the actors performing for them might be quite nervous, especially those who are first-timers or very young. Although it is OK for a child to ask to start over if they make a mistake, casting directors will usually prefer that they just keep going.
Parents should avoid making excuses for a poor performance from their child, even if they think it's the result of something they did. Casting directors have heard every excuse in the book dozens of times, and they won't want to hear it again.
A casting call is usually set up for one particular type of child. A parent shouldn't bring a kid's brother or sister because they think the casting director might want to meet them too. Doing so will almost guarantee that the child under consideration will not get the part. The parent should focus their attention on the child they've chosen to bring.
If the casting director asks about a parent's other children, then they can speak about them. But unless they directly request that they want to see them, chances are they are simply making conversation to make the parent and/or child feel more at ease.
No Chewing Gum
Although it seems like an obvious no-no, the number of kids who walk into a casting office snapping their chewing gum is amazing. Unless the chewing gum is an actual character choice the parent and child have decided upon, it is not something that will go over well with a casting director.
When to Stay Home
If a child is simply too tired or wired or even suffering from a cold, it's better to pass on the audition altogether rather than hoping to "suffer through it." Being sick or out of sorts in another way certainly won't help the child's chances with this particular job, and it might hinder their chances of getting other work because the casting director who sees a whiny or hyperactive child will remember their behavior more than their performance.
No Coaching or Scolding
One almost certain way for a parent to ensure their child fails to get an acting job is to instruct them or scold them in the presence of the casting director. Such moments are often cited as the most uncomfortable of any casting director's career.
A Child's Dream
If a parent is living vicariously through their child and making them do something they don't really have any interest in, a casting director will more than likely pick up on that sooner rather than later. Casting directors are looking for those parents who will serve in more of a "silent partner" capacity for their children and root for them from behind the scenes. Parents should take a child on casting calls only If the child truly dreams of an acting career.