A blog post on how to be a “Model mom” by Sprout Kids Agency owner, Shaina Miller.
Let’s talk about behavior on set. Not just your kids’ behavior but there are also do’s and dont’s for parents on set as well. Let’s touch upon this .
So your child just booked a job, you arrive at the location, you’re in the holding area, there are producers and directors on set. What is appropriate? Do you talk to them? Introduce yourself? If you have a toddler do you help the photographer? The short answer to all of this is a firm no.
Every once in a while I might get a call from production about a parent on set. What’s even worse is when I get a call and that child is sent home due to a parent’s behavior on set. Please don’t be that parent .
When your child’s booked on a job your one and only job is to get them to the location. You are their driver and that’s it. Being invisible is always best unless you’re specifically asked a question or asked for help. I would advise to never talk to the director or producer unless they come to you and ask you a question. Remember it’s your child they booked on the job, not the parent. They are shooting these campaigns every month or more and they have parents trying to “suck up “ to them on a daily basis and believe me, they don’t like it .
I have been on the production side of this industry and there is nothing better than parents that mind their own business, reads a book or does some work while their child is on set.
Now, what if you have a toddler that’s “misbehaving” on set. Simple answer is let production handle it unless they ask for your help. There will be times where in your mind your child is being rambunctious or misbehaving but a director or photographer is loving it. I have had a lot of moms jump in while I’m shooting and try to tell their child to stop doing whatever it was they were doing, I was absolutely loving what the child was doing and in turn the parent ruined the whole shot. So what you might perceive as being a problem a photographer might love. So the best thing to do when they take your child on set is say “hi my name is … and if you need me for anything I’m right here“, hand your child to them and if they need you they will come get you. Never leave your child on set alone without you there unless you’re running a quick errand. Directors are not babysitters.
With that being said, sometimes your child might have to wait to be called on set . Waiting could range from ten minutes to several hours. Always bring something to keep your child busy while they wait on set. We never know the wait time so bringing games, quiet toys, and even some snacks are always a good option.
While you’re waiting you typically meet other “model moms”, this seems to be gossip hour. Again this is not the time for you to brag about your child’s bookings, bad mouth other agencies, or find out all the industry gossip. Set is a professional environment and in turn everyone on set should act accordingly. Every day I receive calls from moms I work with about what so and so’s mom said on set. Remember you never know who’s listening and 95% of the “advice” you’re receiving is probably inaccurate. Johnny’s mom is bragging about her booking and your son wasn’t called?? Now you’re upset at your agent. In reality Johnny has brown eyes and your son has blue and the director wanted a boy to look like a dad with brown eyes,which is why your child wasn’t called. Magically that was left out when Johnny’s mom told you about his amazing booking. Moms love to make other moms squirm, they love to brag about their kids, and it’s easy to feel jealous or upset. Please don’t use a booking as a time to gossip.
If you have other children DO NOT BRING THEM ON SET UNLESS YOU HAVE ASKED AHEAD OF TIME. This is a big no no! If you have no other choice but to bring another child you must let your agent know so they can advise the client. It is frowned upon in the industry to bring anyone other than yourself and your child on set. This also means one parent and the child. Both parents, grandparents, in-laws, or aunts and uncles should never be on set, it should only be the person driving the child and the child. The less noise and distractions the better.
Now what happens if your child loses a tooth, scratches their face, gets a rash? Or you’re booked as a parent on set and there is something that in some way might affect the shoot or the client booking yourself or your child? What do you do? You call your agent. It’s better to be safe than sorry. It’s never fun to lose a booking but it’s always worse to lose a client altogether. If an agent loses a client because you failed to disclose something that might affect the shoot this could mean the end of your relationship with your agent. And you not just lost the job for yourself but for all the other families as well. So please be considerate and mindful of all the effort that goes into a production. Honesty is always the best policy and it’s always appreciated.
I hope this helps answer some questions and helps us all have a better on set experience .