Parents Q&A: Working in LA

Q: I’ve been told you cannot submit for a lot of movies that film in the USA unless you have a LA casting agent, is this true in your experience?

A: If a project is doing the bulk of their shooting in Canada then they will hold a round of auditions locally, especially for younger actors because they’re so much more expensive to bring in from LA. If a project is shooting in the USA somewhere, then all the actors who work on that production must be legal to work in the US, so unless your young actor is a dual citizen that would mean applying for a work visa, an expensive, uncertain and time-consuming process. The reality is that unless you book the lead in one of those films, US production companies won’t want to go through the expense and trouble of getting a work permit for a foreign actor. I’ve had peers go down to LA for pilot season without working papers, have a network get really excited about them, and then when they find out the actor’s not legal to work in the US they go with someone who’s already got their papers. You can certainly self-submit for US projects that aren’t shooting here, but I’d say only put the effort in if (a) it’s a very large role and (b) your son/daughter is 100% perfect for the role. That way at least you’re maximizing your energy.

If you are legal to work in the US then that’s a different story. Most local agents will say that they submit their actors for projects in LA, but I think that the reality is that there is such a volume of projects casting in LA that Vancouver based agents only skim them. If you’re serious about working in the US, finding a talent agent or manager in LA who’s either affiliated with or willing to cooperate with your Vancouver agent is the way to go. Even then you’ll probably only get asked for tapes on projects where it’s (a) a very large role and (b) your son/daughter is 100% perfect for the role.

Michael Bean, Owner+Head Coach, Biz Studio | Feel free to send your questions, comments, corrections or concerns to