New Dads, protect your family from the grand idea your kid is cute and will make money doing photo and movie shoots. Quite simply, the costs to do the work will generally eat all the profits.
After checking out more than 5 of the better agencies in Victoria, I worked out that they will not guarantee a level of work. They will charge around $450 per year to get your child onto their booking website. From there the head-hunters will passively look through the listings like an introduction agency without the agencies skill.
Even if a job is posted and the agent does send your child off as a recommendation, the head hunters are only looking for a kid that fits a very narrow set of vital statistics. For the agent, this is leaving no room to move on actually using any of their skill.
Is this $450 expensive? Asked another way, is the agency pricing their service fairly at $450? Let’s see. Given the average book size of a boutique agency is 200+ children at $450 each, that is $90,000 gross income. An accountants rule of thumb for a small business is 1/3 cost, 1/3 wages and 1/3 profit. $30,000+ for doing very little other than having the kids photographed usually by an associated business at cut price costs to post a few jpegs on a database site is not a bad outcome.
If you double the size of the database the profit becomes $60,000. For a small business owner who likes to strut around on the phone feeling important, park the Mercedes or BMW in the car park and attend corporate events with wine and canapés for the risk of a receptionist’s wages and a web site, it is a compelling outcome.
The extra profit for the agency is the jobs going through. With the average photo shoot at $100 for the usual 1hr job, it’s about $20 per job commission. Most agencies will have over 80% of the kids doing a single job so that is over $3,000 per year.
I can only speculate but say the successful kids average 6 jobs a year that is an additional $18,000 gross income or $6,000 in the owner’s pocket. If you double the database its $12,000 giving them $60,000 + $12,000 to a $72,000 total.
Now we are talking good money for a small business with minimal risk. Well the risk is to the parents after all there are no guarantees in getting the kids work.
Is it realistic to say this? Yes. An apparently well run boutique agency is run by a Mum who thought she could do the same job. And she did it if not better than most. A pretty good outcome for a mum who needs a job post baby. And I applaud her for having a go. So the business is not rocket science.
Realistically it could be hard work. The pressure will be on getting an acceptably profitable level of kids onto the database. My research found that without a doubt, your child will be "cute" at every application. That is to get you in and hopefully double the database.
Is this ethical? Hard to say. What I did find is the head-hunters don't care about cute, they care about the face to fit the job they have been asked to do. One agency admitted their hardest worker is a very average almost unremarkable child who you would not notice walking down the street. It’s a gamble.
On another blog, a mother was surprised that her very beautiful and talented child missed out on a casting despite being perfect and best on the day. Later the mother saw the finished job and found it was not about perfection. The casting agency needed the kid with the speech impediment. So could the agency have added value? No, they did not know the mind of the head-hunter.
Now if by this stage you are still looking at 6 jobs for your child over the year as a good outcome, lets drill down into that. I have also learned that the average catalogue job for a child is about $80 to $120 per hour for about 1 hr work per job. What do you get for your effort?
The Tax office rate I looked up for costs of running a current car with about a 2L engine is 74 cents per km. Let’s say the job is in Port Melbourne or Richmond. Let’s say you live on the outer suburbs. A round trip will cost your car 60km which is about $44.
Let’s say you earn $100. The agency gets about 20% so you get gross $80. Less car costs of $44 that leaves $36.
Let’s say the parent spends 30 minutes picking up the child from school because they will have to sign them out early, go to the class room etc, interrupting the usual routine and child’s education. Hopefully the other kids in their family are looked after for free during the job. The child will also need to be prepared and then taken to the job.
The job could be 45 minutes travel time to and from the location. That’s another 90 minutes so we are up to 2 hours work already for both of you. As there are two people in this equation its 2+2 or 4 hrs. The job is 1 hr so that’s 1+1 or 2 hrs totalling 4+2 to 6 hours.
What’s the rate of pay? For both of you together, $36 divided by 6 hours = $6 per hour. Now how much does a pizza shop or hamburger company pay per hour to work in it?, A lot more? Oh tax! Did anyone mention tax?
To answer this you ask the question about job profitability and tax to an talent agent. They of course will not answer the question saying it’s for you to investigate. But you may glean a little gem of information Such jobs to them are considered to be, wait for it … a hobby!
So let’s get this right. You pay $450 for a hobby. The kids do get to bond with you in the car. You as a parent do get to sit around in a parent’s waiting room because they don’t want you putting off the kids. You do get to see the kids run around a location set staring at bright lights. How many time is this considered fun? . Oh did anyone mention you are interrupting your kid’s education to do the job. What’s the interruption worth to their future?
At $36 profit the $450 fee does require you to do about 12 jobs a year or 1 job a month. That’s not guaranteed so 12 jobs might be a bit much to expect. Yes the hobby could in theory cost you nothing but if you are lucky about $225 if you do get 6 jobs.
So how does the family finances benefit? They get nothing.
But but but …what if I get a casting job doing a commercial at $1000 for a full days work? What if I do 1 of those jobs each month? Yes maybe you have a star in the making. Yes it’s possible. How many castings will you go to do get that paying job. Castings are done for free.
Castings are a job interview. Cast your mind back to when you went for a job and did not get it. How did you feel? How do you think your kid will feel? If you do get the job, the job profit must be divided by all those lost days trying to get accepted. The amount becomes small and the risk to you great. Look deep and think about the luck involved.
But but but … my little star does acting. Doesn’t matter. Is cute … we have already found that’s not important. Has a great agent … do you mean introduction website?
But but but it will be fun and confidence boosting. Yes I agree that could work. It is a hobby. Is it a good hobby? Well only you can answer that. At least that is what the agency says.