This morning I offer the sister post to “So, what is it that a parent really wants from a print agent?” I'm now answering, "So, what is it a print agent wants from a parent?" Disclaimer: I’m not an agent (but I’ve played one on TV! Sorry for that – I’ve always wanted to say that. And I’m a Real Housewives junkie and that’s RHOBH Eileen’s tag line…) but I’ve had enough contact with agents and other parents to know what they want from us. Ready?
TRUST. Agents at reputable agencies are agents because they are good at what they do. They have needed to develop good relationships with casting directors and clients so they can take each other seriously and have they respect they need to work with each other. As a result of all of that legwork and lovefest, they have developed a combination of standard protocols and instincts to get their kids booked and hopefully booked again. Remember, they want to make money on our kids working. They NEED to make money when our kids work. No money, no job. The harder they work (and the smarter they work) the more money they make. (Their take, just in case you’re not in the biz, is 40% of the rate our kids make. They take 20% from our kids and another 20% from the client. For those of us who can take 40% off a dress at the gap and our math ends there, it comes out to $40 for every $100 our kids gross – of which we would get $80.)
TRUST that they do the best they can to get the job done. They will know if Client X is a fascist about only sending kids of a certain size. They do not want to piss off Client X by sending kids from all over the height chart just to get kids seen. They may also know that Client Y never really knows what Client Y wants until they see the kids…and will tailor the clothes to fit. There’s wiggle room. An agent can take risks with Client Y. When Client Z calls and says, “Send me five kids who fit such-and-such breakdown!” the agent may have 9 kids in that range but has to pick 5. He or she will have to use judgment to get the kids most likely to book in front of that client. This is really the stuff we shouldn’t question much. Remember I mentioned the “Once in a While” pass to ask the agent his or her thoughts? And hopefully get the honest answers? Really, we have to trust a LOT – even when we compare every kid who went to the go-see or booked up against our own kids – that the agent is working in the best interest of our kiddos. Once in a while we can ask. Because if we ask ALL THE TIME? We’re annoying and, frankly, keeping the agent from getting work done. And really, we want the agent submitting our kids rather than answering annoying emails from neurotic moms. If things just continue to not make sense to us? Maybe the trust isn’t there and it’s time to reevaluate the relationship.
Just like yesterday’s post, I’ll lump the rest into one paragraph. Book out if you are not available. If you haven’t booked out, BE AVAILABLE. Be honest. Keep sizes updated as frequently as the agent wants them from you. BE AVAILABLE. Send good pics and good tearsheets (work from jobs) so the agent can submit the best photos of your kid. Know what the agent wants you to do and/or and not do with non-agency work – including test shoots with photographers. BE AVAILABLE. Communicate efficiently. Be on time and professional ALWAYS.
Thinking on the fly here, I’ll separate this one out into another paragraph: realize that this is a BUSINESS. It’s not an “activity” you’ve picked up for your kid like soccer or gymnastics. The agencies earn their money on the fact that your kid is available, shows up, and is professional. I do know of kids who have become violently ill on the way into a shoot or broken a limb twelve hours before call time. That happens; everyone will understand. But if you don’t feel like driving into the city a third day in a row or have a soccer game you just don't want to miss but didn’t book out? You need to put the business first. You’ve chosen this for your kid, and you need to follow through. If it’s not the right business for you, you can bow out the next day or as soon as you’ve fulfilled your obligations in terms of holds and bookings. But if Ralph Lauren decides that your agency is just not reliable enough to work with because kids don’t show up? Uncool for all of us.
Thoughts? Reactions? Comment here or on my facebook page, The Bizzy Mama. Are you an agent? Did I leave anything out? Message my email at email@example.com and I can update this without revealing your identity…or maybe give you a great pseudonym. And a tagline! Want a tagline?
Next time: haven’t quite decided yet. I have a list…I just need to “feel” what should come next!