By Jules Lavallee
Los Angeles, California (The Hollywood Times) 6/23/2021- Adam Jacobs took the reins in 2018 with Bubblegum Casting, Australia’s longest running child talent agency. Since then this digital marketing genius took the agency to top tier status and opened an adult division working with leading brands in Australia and across the globe. They have successfully positioned acting, modeling, and influencer opportunities with brands including, Myer, Country Road & Bonds, Huggies, Nike, and Vodafone to name a few. From TV, print, billboards, large and small campaigns, Adam Jacobs tells us about the sweet secret to success at Bubblegum Casting.
You represent some of Australia’s brightest young stars. Tell us about Bubblegum Casting.
BC is the oldest running junior talent agency in Australia- according to some it’s the fifth oldest in the world, originally started by a lawyer way before my time. She wanted to get into the industry, and I actually bought it – at one point it was in my family and I ended up buying it as a distressed asset – it was technically still operational but in financial distress. I was going to do some other things, then decided this is something I would give a crack at! My reason for doing it was in memory of my sister, who was a very famous child actress, she was on a bunch of international kid shows. I thought it was a way of memorizing her. If I had known it was going to be this hard, I might have found another way to honor her – like run a marathon for her or something! When I bought Bubblegum it had no staff, with its reputation in tatters – but now it’s a highly successful top of the food chain here in Australia!
Take us through the process of working with you.
People apply through the agency, 26 thousand kids a year, and we filter through certain markets we are looking for for what we need. Lots of people who apply we can’t help because they are in cities or countries we don’t operate in, though we are looking at expanding. Then we audition the kids to join the agency. We make sure they are the right fit, we make sure the parents are doing it for the right reasons, at that point if we are interested we submit an offer for representation, and we represent about 2100 kids nationally, but that’s not one central number, it’s divided over 3 cities and we are launching a fourth. It’s illegal for kids to travel more than 60 minutes for work in Australia.
What are your core competencies for helping young stars?
Experience -we have been doing this longer than anyone else, our approach to innovation, always trying to see how we can improve and perform better than both our competitors and the general market, openness to change, for example what worked pre-COVID won’t work during COVID, so the ability to be open to change and to move things around is important. Additionally, we are constantly nurturing our relationships with casting directors, producers and clients.
You are known as Australia’s Leading baby talent agency. Tell us more.
We are! We have been featured in WHO magazine, and New Idea… and at one point we had the highest paid baby in the country, if you google Luna and Bubblegum Casting, you will see a baby making $5000 a day. The family was really grounded. The mom used to be one of my agents and she left because she got a reality TV show! The parents are the hardest part of this job, you deal with all types of people. A lot of people see their child as a reflection of themselves so if their child is not doing well they can get really hot, we see petty jealousy from parents seeing other kids who are doing well. We get everything from parents who send Christmas cards to some who want to fight me. Dealing with adults at Hunter Talent https://www.huntertalent.com.au/ is a lot easier – you can deal with them directly and speak with them more pragmatically.
You work with leading brands internationally including Huggies, Toyota, Vodafone, and Disney to name a few. How do you prepare clients to work with these mega brands?
Preparedness is the main thing, being prepared for auditions of that caliber – especially Marvel, Disney, Warner Brothers – that applies to both Hunter and BG but often it comes down to their behavior on set, if they are prepared and professional and tier parents behave well and once clients have seen them perform well on other projects they tend to give them more opportunities. Even for tweens and up, putting work in, script work, drama lessons, that kind of stuff, really does assist them to do better.
You also work with adults for Hunter Talent. Tell us about what makes Hunter Talent the top-tier agency.
Tiers are classified by what clients we work with – we have some of the biggest casting directors as clients and brands that work with us directly now, it’s all about the quality of the books, and we get 30 or 40 applications a day for Hunter and we take on maybe 3 or 4 and we are quick to let go of anybody that is flaky or cancels last minute, we get rid of them pretty quickly because our excellent reputation is important to us.
Share a few success stories.
Examples include, the $5000 a day baby, we’ve got kids in major television shows and films, we have one who is one of the leads of Shantaram. Right now we’ve got people auditioning for major Marvel and DIsney and NBC productions I can’t mention yet. We’re getting a brief every 15 minutes and average 150 auditions a week at the moment – a slow week is 150 auditions and a top week could be more than 300.
Can Bubblegum Casting bring super stardom to clients?
I don’t really think there are any Australian superstars right now other than the Hemsworths, Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts, their careers were all launched in the US but right now in Australia we are seeing a lot of major American productions, traditionally you would get your feet wet here then have to go to Hollywood, but now for the first time ever it’s a possibility to build here, before it was not viable but now it is very possible – you can start to see some superstars emerge domestically, Matt Damon lives here now, Zach Efron lives here now, George Clooney is here at the moment…We’re in talks about expanding internationally now, too.
What will clients notice about working with you?
High touch point, lots of communication. We have a system , one of the few agents in the world that alerts people in real-time. What my agent is doing for me is one of the biggest critiques in the industry that’s a problem we have solved.
Do you plan on hosting open casting events in your offices in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane?
We have done them before, they are good, they are fun, we actually got an Emmy award winning production crew to make a video for our last open casting. It’s great – check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBDxmmp0i5c
Tell us about the Bubblegum Academy.
Bubblegum Academy is an online acting and modeling drama school for kids, tweens and teens- and it is available to international talent – we have people in both Los Angeles and in Australia teaching , we have launched it and have just been feeling it out at the moment, it’s live online classes with acting and drama.
What is the best advice you can give before people reach out to Bubblegum Casting?
Have realistic expectations. Know what we can do for you – I will give you an example, school holidays is next week -I have parents who have complained that their kids haven’t had any work and they have auditions next week and they’re going on family vacations and aren’t even going to be around – so have realistic expectations – and do it for the right reasons.