Photoshoots… and how we choose our child models
A while ago, we lifted the lid on what happened at a typical Drumond Park photoshoot. (Summary: a lot of work; a lot of fun). We said then that we’d write a bit more about how we go about choosing the children to be featured – so here goes.
Firstly, and most obviously, we need to tell our model agency what we want. Ray, who heads our PR team, will specify the number of boys and girls we want, their ages, hair colour etc., and explain a little bit about the products we are photographing. They’ll then email her a shortlist of candidates, and we’ll whittle them down to first and second choices, hoping that they’ll be available on the dates we’re planning.
This is when it starts to get complicated.
Our next job is to get hold of Child Performance License Forms from the Children’s Services Department of the child’s home County Council. These forms are quite lengthy to complete, and the permissions can take up to a month to be granted. There’s nothing that we can do to hurry this up, so in the meantime we start looking for adult models who will hopefully ‘go well’ with the kids.
This paperwork is why we only use models from recognised model agencies. Easier as it might sound, simply rounding up kids that we know and then popping down to the local orphanage to make up the numbers just isn’t on the cards – the rules to protect children have been tightened up very considerably over the years, and obtaining licensing/schools’ permissions etc. is a Very Big Deal.
We’ll say now that you won’t catch us complaining about the administration that pertains to child protection – and of course this applies to the rest of the games industry also.
Once you’re on a shoot there are other stringent regulations: children must be chaperoned at all times; there must be separate changing areas and toilet facilities for girls and boys; we must provide food and drinks. All sensible.
So children already registered with a model agency get the call. Which might not be that immediately encouraging if you have aspirations for your family to earn a living being photographed whilst wildly grinning amidst boxes of LOGO and Magic Tooth Fairy – but what we’re saying is that there aren’t really any short cuts to model stardom. And that applies even if you’re our biggest fan and have children that radiate beauty to end all beauty; cherubs with smiles that would light up the darkest of playrooms (and we’re sure that you do).
What children do well in this sort of work? We can only speak for Drumond Park, but we’ll always be looking for kids who radiate enthusiasm; who can smile and laugh on cue; who can really engage with the other people on the shoot and the games themselves; and who can focus on the task at hand, ignoring all the rigmarole of cameras, lighting, stylists, the director and highly-strung games executives with deadlines to meet.
Most importantly, a good child model must be able to ACT - and cheerfully do what she or he is told to do. And it’s really, really helpful if they know their left from their right.
Anyway – sound like fun? It’s not our place to advise you on specifics, but if you do ever decide to approach a modelling agency then it goes without saying that you should undertake proper research before taking the plunge. It’s a long shot, but perhaps we’ll see you or your child one day, pictured chuckling away at a game that has yet to hit the shops!