Thursday, April 23, 2015

"Wanna lick? Psych!" or: My kid was the backup.

Back in high school, my friends and I used to love watching Eddie Murphy stand-up comedy.  One friend in particular (shout out!!!  Not a model mom, but I’ll make her read this today!) could perform the sketches with amazing accuracy and timing.  A bit I remember particularly was about the ice cream truck coming and a kid who gets an ice cream and holds out the cone  to offer a lick…”Wanna lick?” and then pulls it back and says, “Psych!”  That’s basically been burned into my brain for 25 years.  Cracks me up every time.  (Here’s a link to the bit…warning: strong language and sexy black man in red leather.)

So my point is this: sometimes modeling can be “Wanna lick? … Psych!”  A friend (shout out!!!) messaged me last night wondering if I was going to take on the subject of…dramatic pause…being a backup kid at a photo shoot.

I can say, without fail, that my daughter’s three best bookings (in terms of “name” and “coolness” – not necessarily in terms of money or exposure) were a jewelry company that features blue boxes and two shoots for a doll company that features – hmmm, well, let’s just say it can take your kid’s college fund rather quickly if you buy their stuff.  I think you get what I’m saying, right?  But those three shoots?  No pictures.  She shot both times for the dolls – one they shot four girls and chose one for the ad campaign, and the other time they shot a ton of girls and used a few but I never found pictures of my daughter.  She never even shot for the jewelry company; she just stayed on set during the shoot and two other girls shot.  She got paid for all three; and not even a bad rate.  Same rate as the girls who shot.  (Well, the first doll shoot paid hourly and then a usage fee for the girl they selected, and obviously we didn’t get the usage fee.  It was the first job for the girl who did print, so I was very happy for her.  Shout out!!!)  So, for all three of those shoots?  “Wanna lick?  Psych!”

Now I’ll give you the opposite scenario.  I got a call one random summer afternoon that my daughter had been selected to be the backup for an insurance company shoot.  It was a big production shoot by an ad agency (love those) and paid extremely well just for backup.  I didn’t even remember going to the go-see.  I was like, “Hellz yeah, we’ll sit around and do nothing for that money!”  When we got to the shoot, the producer told us we both girls would shoot and both would be paid the same principal rate (fist bump!) and then after all was said and done, my daughter was the one who printed.  (Not my favorite tear sheet by any stretch of the imagination – shelooked kind of haggard – but it was a fun shoot on a beach on a gorgeous summer day.)

What you need to know, especially with younger kids, is that it’s entirely likely that you may go to a shoot and not shoot.  Or not print.  Or maybe it printed somewhere but you will never find it.  Or maybe your kid’s feet will print.  Or you’ll be in the window of the gap with a giant flower covering your kid’s face.  Or maybe you’ll get to the shoot and your kid will be a total beast that day and no amount of iPad/candy/toy/playground bribery will get a good mood.  Any one of those things can happen and you need to be totally ready for it.  For babies, they may hire two or even four babies to get one look shot, the first one may nail it, and the others will get sent home.  Everyone gets paid (although occasionally there are separate rates for backup, but that is more the exception than the rule).  Yay! Your kid booked, but sorry; no tear sheets to look for in a few months.

One company regularly books at least two and sometimes more kids to shoot for their products and ads, and they are very likely to shoot the first kid and send the others home if they like the pics.  That’s a toy store where we have all dropped a ton of money, I’m sure.  You need to go to those shoots fully prepared not to shoot; and if you do, you need to be prepared not to print.  It’s just part of the whole business.  Every year we choose a catch phrase in my house.  One year we chose a phrase from a commercial for a septic tank product.  The phrase?  “Flush and pray.”  In other words, go for it – and hope it works out.  If it doesn’t, there’s always next time.

Flush and pray!

What did I leave out?  Any questions?  Add a comment here, on my facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or send me an email at …I’m also on Instagram at TheBizzyMama.  Don’t forget to share the love by clicking on the brown icon below…I want to become a top-ten Mommy Blogger!  I’ve made it to the top 50!

The insurance company shoot with the "grandma" (like, a couple years older than me!)


  1. I'm glad you took on this topic. This happened to us yesterday. We went to a booked shoot for a well known dept store and after an hour of waiting for "our turn" they released my dd and 3 other kids that were also waiting. This has happened to us before however this time it made my daughter really upset. ... I tried explaining that they got good pictures of the other kiddos and didn't need her picture today but at 3 she did t really understand why she wasn't going to take pictures (she loves shoots and I don't blame her for being upset). Any advice on helping kids understand this part of the biz?

  2. Great question. I think that you need to present the whole business as...well...part of the business. Not all kids shoot, some just go to have fun in case they need a lot of kids...stuff like that. My daughter still doesn't really "get" that go-sees or auditions sometimes result in photo shoots or filming...she just thinks that sometimes it's a go-see and sometimes it's a shoot. Just depends on the day. (That won't last forever, though.)

    If you have a few special things that only go along with shoot days, the day will still be fun for your kiddo. Still have the special stickers or goodies that only come out at shoots and maybe still hit the playground or subway (that was always fun for bad weather days) or whatever seems fun. If you make it seem "par for the course" hopefully any disappointment you have won't rub off on your kid. After the backup thing happens a couple of times, you get used to it. (But it's still a bummer!)

  3. This happened to my daughter also. She was a backup for a known magazine for moms and dads. Lol Her face dropped when they started to take the set down realizing she won't get her turn. She was so excited and I guess the crew knew that. So they told me to let her pick put any costume not the 1 she was a backup for (for this upcoming halloween) & I can take cell phone shots so she don't feel left out. Well I ended up uploading it to utube bc it's my favorite video. Why? Bc some people have a heart. This crew all started taking pics of her also. I looked over and even the photographer came back to take pictures. They all cheered her on. I will be a forever fan of them now. I wish I knew some of the people in the video to thank them.
    She was wearing a witch stockings with a princess dress so if they ever did use the pictures (after reading this blog I guess 1 never knows) that they would probably have to photo shop that out. Lol