Q and A Interview with Dawnie Stevens. Head Booker at Bizzykidz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! is the agencies slogan and today was no different in the office. Catch up with the agencies Head Booker who also gives some great tips to actors and models.

Q: What made you want to become an agency booker?  

A: Exciting, fast paced, organised way of working which is me to a T!

Q: Describe your typical day in the office? 

A: It’s Bizzy!! never a dull moment but most of all fun. Once logged on this can be anytime between 0700am and 0920am.  Emails are dealt with in time order. Making sure Skype is on to be connected to the rest of the team and also Live Chat to help out with general enquiries. The briefs take priority over everything. A brief from a client has to be dealt with and suggestions sent over within an hour, so the casting client sees our suggestions first.  I filter all our children to suit the clients specifications so that we only send the right children to the right client for the right job.

Some briefs are standard some are more challenging and therefore take a while to do. I have a TO DO list every day which is never completed daily and things roll over. I do like using my red pen to cross off my list though!  Chasing clients for invoice payments takes a while this can be via email and calls too.  I add all information for a job onto our online XL system so it is current and all the agency team can all see the status of the job.  As soon as one job is closing another is starting so I could be invoicing one moment and then sending casting emails to parents for the next job, or dealing with production for wardrobe call information.  At any one time I am probably juggling around 60 assignments and all the associated admin that goes with that.  I take calls from clients and negotiate fees and usage for the children we represent.  I usually eat at my work station, 2-3 cup of teas a day keep me going for a while. The phone will usually then start going around 4:00pm to call in castings invites for the next day after the clients have looked over our suggestions, so next it is an endless round of sending texts as invites via our online profile system and then sending emails for all. Another brief may come in and then it all starts again!  Shoot emails are usually sent out the day before a shoot as we are usually the last to know the finalised details for the assignment, this is usually due to last minute changes by the director – this happens alot!  I have a paper diary to keep check on all (I’m old school and old!) and also use this to diary questions to check on usage from shoots that have taken place hoping that we get information to know our children are going to appear in the campaign or tv commercial that they went for.  I would like to say 5:30pm is log off time but I can often be found still sending briefs at 11pm to ensure that we get our suggestions looked at the next day if a brief comes in overnight.  I’m usually not drinking tea at this time!

Q: What do you look for in a New Face?  

A:   Its not always about looks it is about attitude and style and of course knowing that the parents can be flexible as this industry requires that! Children that are marketable and real looking are popular as is the way of it these days.  Older children do not need 100’s of images, or a portfolio as most parents think.  We do not like loads of make up on older children – natural is best as the clients all have styling and wardrobe on set.  We live in a diverse culture and this is reflected in the children that we take on as new faces to ensure that we are moving with the industry and making sure we have someone to suit all.  Everyone is unique.

Q: What do you look for in a parent?

A: As above to know that they are honest and can know and understand the commitment of running a profile for their child.  They have 1 profile to look after and we have many!  Making sure that they know to update height monthly and keep us up to date with new skills and hobbies and grades achieved etc.  I am a parent and know the stresses and strains that comes with it, especially if you have other children in the mix as well.  Honesty is the best policy and help me to help you policy works always.  Mobile and email addresses being correct helps, or I am spending time chasing and chasing and then client may potentially just go to another agent if i do not get the required information to them in time – hence the need for replies to texts etc within 2 hrs.  Time, effort, commitment and patience is needed too.

Q: How should a potential New Face approach an agent? 

A: Be prepared and read up on the agency and helpful information they have on their website so that they are aware of what is expected of them. If a child is of school age be sure to tell the school that they are thinking of becoming involved in the industry as they may need to leave early to make castings etc and take days off for a shoot.  Be polite and professional as we could be working together for 18 yrs!

Q: How can kids ensure they stand out to casting directors at auditions? 

A:  Treat it as a job interview!  Make sure you research the product/client that you are seeing so you know what they do.  No one goes to a job interview unprepared and castings are the same.  We would have sent your model card/image/jpeg and all your bio so that is was the casting director is expecting to see.  Don’t dye your hair before the casting, or decide to have it cut – that will not go down well!  We have opened the door for you and have got you this far, so it is then up to a parent/child to walk through the door and do their stuff!  Be polite, know your agency name and treat the casting director as you would any other human being.  If they ask you to sing a line from a west end show, or your favourite song – just go with it – the casting directors know exactly what they are looking for.  If you put dancing as a hobby on your profile and are asked to demonstrate this – you must do just that – no point in having something on profile that you cannot do, or do not feel comfortable to do if asked at a casting.  If in doubt, leave it out !  Most importantly have fun, attend every casting you are invited to if you can – all good experience and don’t feel down if you do not get a call back you just were not really what the casting director was looking for that day.  You would have done really well to reach that far as I have spoken with casting directors who for 3 roles sometimes get over 600 applicants!

Q: What advice do you give to your kids, and parents before travelling to an audition? 

A:  I have two documents that are attached to a casting email.  They really are there for the parent/child’s benefit.  All the information within the email will have a breakdown of the brief and if sides/scripts are attached please ensure that you practise – again be prepared.  We want you to get the job as much as you remember!  If you are polite and smile and answer all that is directed at you – thats a start, then knowing your lines and ensuring that if they have asked you take a toy or favourite item with you to the casting make sure you do.  Be on time and know all your child’s measurements.  No two castings are the same so please read all that is sent. We send you what we have been sent and then the rest is up to you!

Q: What would you say to a parent who says “My agent isn’t any good! I never hear from them!”? 

A:  We are here 24/7 to answer all enquiries.  We have Live Chat as a facility to help.  We are willing to answer all questions.  We are all parents ourselves too and know that this is a tough industry to be involved in.  We are bizzy promoting all our children the best we can. Unfortunately there is no guarantees in this industry, you just have to keep ensuring that you attend castings, take up opportunities of unpaid jobs for experience. Children enrolling in new classes can sometimes help the child as long as we are made aware of this, it will help with searches to know your child may be that one child due to new skill that we may have a brief in he/she suits over another child.  This is a hugely competitive industry and we have our own competition with other agencies as well.  

Q: What would you say is the best part of your job?  

A:  The best part is hearing from casting director that one of our children are confirmed for an assignment.  Especially if feedback from parent said they did really well at the casting and they really want the job!  If it’s a first job from a very first casting, that’s always good as well.  All exciting for all and when hard work from all has paid off.  Next best thing is seeing something that you were part of appearing in the magazine/catalogue/billboard/online/in-store or appearing on television.

Q: Do you think there is anything that stands out to you about kids on your books that seem to be more successful than others? 

A:  The ones that do not try too hard,  nerves are usually an issue and we always tell the children that nerves are good but there are clever ways of hiding them.  We usually find the children who have parents who simply let them get on with it do really well.  Everytime you go to a casting just be you.  The children that operate in this way and always with a smile we can trust them to pull it out of the bag when needed.

Q: What is the easiest part of your job? 

A: Unsure to be fair I do not think there is an easy part it is all fairly challenging and demanding and time critical.  Easiest and nicest part is seeing the children having fun and enjoying themselves and knowing they are growing and developing in the industry.  It is lovely to see the children as babies and then toddlers and school age children all coming though.

Q: What would you say is the most challenging part of your job? 

A:  Getting and obtaining images and links to the hard work we have all been part of!  Lot of producers and directors are freelance and due to the quick turnaround on assignments they are moved onto the next one.  Also dealing with certain clients that we bend over backwards for and get them all they want and then they do not come back to us to confirm, or even release the child.  Also we have to deal with clients last minute and they forget the councils have time frames to work to so we are forever chasing councils to see if licences for children can be issued in time! #headachecentral !

Q: What do you do in your own time to switch off from work

A:  Prosecco and sun !