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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Keith

Myths and Mayhem

The ins and outs of one of the toughest industries.

Myths consistently surround themselves around the child talent industry and child talent/modelling agencies alike. However, many back handed comments to the industry are in fact myths, rather than a factual description of the industry. While many may believe they know the ins and outs, only those within the industry really understand the blood, sweat and tears that comes with an extremely rewarding yet harsh industry.

The industry can be extremely fast paced, with clients organising shoots and castings with only a day’s notice, so expecting these kinds of situations is crucial. While such short notice isn’t exactly convenient as a parent with a child in the industry, this is a situation you may come across and it is important to align your expectations to the industry. However, don’t fret about the safety of your child, because though fast-paced, the child employment space is also extremely regulated – as any area involving children should be.

Ultimately this is one of the main reasons why having an agent is so important - to ensure that everything is done right.

Is This Legal?

Within the industry, agents must ensure that anyone who wishes to employ their talent is registered with the relevant organisations and can provide the required documentation to prove they have met the correct legal and government regulations.

For example, if your child does a catalogue shoot or a TV Commercial for Kmart, your agent should ensure that Kmart is following all the proper guidelines to be employing children, such as being registered with the correct organisations, no matter the state.

Also in some states, if the child is of school age, you must have the permission of your child’s school and principal in order for them to leave school and work during school hours.

All legal guidelines must be followed meticulously by your child’s agent, otherwise the agency risks large fines and penalties, and could also risk putting a child in an unsafe environment.

The occurrence of unsafe situations is almost non-existent, as child employment is a heavily regulated sector. Most brands these days will always go through a reputable agency to find talent and any reputable agency will not work with a non- reputable and law-abiding client, so the risk of this is extremely minimal.

In regard to if your child has an agent, the modelling or talent agency needs to have a labour hire license in the state where the work is taking place in order for them to be following all necessary regulations. This way they will be audited every year, and you can be certain you can trust the agency. You can also look up to see if the name your child’s agency trades under, has a labour hire license, remember that compliance matters.

At the end of the day being informed is necessary but you really have no need to stress. If your child is represented by a reputable agency, they will be aware of all legal obligations and follow them methodically.

Clients & No Guarantees

One of the major downfalls of the industry is that no agent can guarantee work - Yes, you read that correctly, no agent can 100% guarantee that your child will get work.

Any good and reputable child talent agency will tell you this, and unfortunately not all kids will come across work during their representation.

This is because the role of a talent agency is to act as the middleman between the brand/client and the talent. The agencies do not create the ‘work’, nor do they know which talent the client will prefer or select for their campaigns. The client will ultimately make the final decision. So always keep this in mind if your child is a part of the industry or you are considering entering the industry, unfortunately that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Money, Money, Money!

Everything costs money, so don’t be surprised when talent management also comes at a cost. Once you have successfully landed a position at an agency, the next step is to wait and hope an opportunity for your child arises.

If your child is lucky enough to be chosen by the client to attend an in-person or online casting, and they choose to attend, this portion of the process is unpaid. A casting will usually only take 5-15 minutes and doesn’t require a payment from the client to your child.

If a child makes it through to the next stage, they will either attend a call-back or they will be requested for the job. A call-back is basically a second casting. This happens when a client would like to see some of their options again, in order to make a final decision. Call-backs are usually paid if they are for commercials, but not for feature films or a TV series; the payment for a call back is most likely going to be a base wage amount per hour.

If your child is successful and is requested, they may be required to attend a wardrobe fitting. A wardrobe fitting is exactly how it sounds, the child will need to go and try on their wardrobe for their shoot, this is to ensure that all items fit, adjustments can be made if necessary or give the stylist time to source other items if needed. This is very similar to a call back in the sense that they will be paid for their time, likely an hourly rate.

The next stage will be the shoot, the best part of the process. The majority of shoots will be paid opportunities, but every shoot will be different. Shoots can be unpaid; however, you may be compensated with clothing or vouchers from the client, however the line here is quite murky in regard to legality. These shoots aren’t very common but when you receive the booking details for the shoot, you will also receive the details for your child’s payment.

It depends on the type of work your child does to determine the minimum rate, however the rates start from $13.13 per hour for an under 15-year-old for Mon-Fri and go up from there.

The payment amount will also depend on other factors including the type of work, hours needed on set, where the advertisement will be shown and how long it will be shown for etc. for example, a stills shoot model (no matter what their age) has a minimum pay rate of $106.43 for the first hour and then less per hour after that (photographic and similar modelling work is covered by the Mannequins and Models Award). It is important to align your expectations with the fact that every shoot is different. Some will pay per hour and others will be a lump sum and in most cases no payment will be the same.

While it is important to know this information if you have a child within the industry, also remember that money isn’t everything. A job will be an exciting and enjoyable time for your child and a great opportunity for them to build confidence and gain experiences that they can remember for the rest of their lives.

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