Question: As a senior Film student at the School of Visual Arts I am curious as to where to start looking for young boy actors. We are looking for a white boy ages 9-14 for a sci fi piece shot in New York and Philadelphia. I am not sure what agencies deal with kids and how to contact them. --Eric
Agencies are a great resource, of course, but you may also find many talented young actors just by posting your casting notice on a few Internet forums or contacting a few local acting schools.
If you are paying actors, of course, an agency or management company would be a great start. Without pay, though, agencies may be reluctant to get their actors involved, as agencies and managers work on a commission-only basis and only earn money when their clients work for pay.
So, assuming you're looking for actors to work on a copy/credit/meals basis (which is customary for student projects), I suggest that you contact a magnet school for acting in your area, perhaps a school for the performing arts, and definitely after school programs that focus on the performing arts.
I mentioned Internet forums as well. That's because there are many, many online discussion groups for parents of child actors. Many of those include open posting sections for casting notices. Since children are involved, you'll need to be prepared to include references (perhaps your major professor's name and contact information).
Finally, my favorite resource is Breakdown Services. While they have a daily listing that goes out to all agents and managers in New York and Los Angeles, they also have an "Actor Access" section on their website. You can submit your casting notice to them (forms are available at http://www.breakdownservices.com) and select to include "Actor Access" as an option. That way, your project is seen by everyone--not just the subscribing agents and managers.
You should include a submission address, phone number for more information, and a deadline by which submissions should be received. All of this will help you have as smooth a casting process as possible!
Hope this helps,
Bonnie Gillespie is a Los Angeles casting columnist, the owner of Cricket Feet Management, and the author of Casting Qs: A Collection of Casting Director Interviews.
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