by All Stars Director, Ben Gregor
So your kid likes acting and wants to be famous? You want them to be the next Harry Potter? Well, as a film director I have to say that the first thing you need to do is.....STOP!
What you and they have right now is very precious - enthusiasm. In fact, it’s really the most important commodity. Kids who can express themselves with dance or on stage or in front of their families at gatherings are awesome, and you have got to protect that upbeat spirit first and foremost.
The brilliant Theo Stevenson and I recently did a national tour promoting All Stars - we went to theatre groups, dance groups and primary schools. The kids rightly loved Theo - in their eyes he was plucked from nowhere to be a star and now - having been Horrid Henry and the lead in All Stars - he lives a pint sized celeb life that they would love.
In reality he’s a brilliantly grounded kid who lives on a potato farm in Essex. He did a ton of local theatre ‘cause he loved it. He wants to do more. He’s brilliant and the farthest from a celeb you could ever imagine.
The mesmerised kids all asked him - how could they do it too? Our reply was always - you’re doing it right now. You’re acting, you’re dancing. Keep doing that. Don’t look to be famous. Look to have carry on having fun and be good.
I’ve got a seven and a three year old, and I would never, ever want them to go to a casting or have an agent. Because I know it would almost certainly stop them loving acting and filming. Instead we make films with my phone about Thomas the Tank Engine turning into a Banana.
Take your performing happy kids to theatre clubs and groups. Make films on your phone, edit them on iMovie and have a screening for friends off your laptop. Let them feel like a star, nurture and appreciate all their efforts. Build up a portfolio of bits and bobs that not only show your commitment and appreciation of their performing, but also will be there to fall back on emotionally if you have a brush with the industry. But don’t do headshots or try to find the industry. In fact - avoid it!
Because the industry is made up of distracted, busy people who crush dreams wherever they go - not out of nastiness, just out of absentmindedness. Everyone is insecure and busy and kids are just one element to a production. I imagine it’s brilliant to be in Matilda - I don’t know much about theatre - but in terms of film and TV, I really think it’s scary for kids: castings are horrid, and for every kid who is cast there are two or three back ups who never even get to set. I just deeply believe that kids should not have to experience unnecessary rejection and that’s what professional acting is 99.9% about.
I was shooting an ad once and the ad agency demanded that a kid was switched because they didn’t like the way they BLINKED. It was dreadful! Don’t put your kids through it. Have fun instead! Do local kids theatre! Make a version of Iron Man in your kitchen! Film an All Stars style dance routine with a webcam! Write a song for an aunt! Go crazy!
I know this might not be what you want to read. But it’s really what I think. So in conclusion - this is how to make your kid a star:
Tell them they’re a star. That’s all you need to do.