There’s no place like Bristol – how this film and TV casting company got their start in the South West.

Dawn Smith is the proud owner of Briz Kidz Casting, the only children’s supporting artist casting agency in Bristol. This is how she went from backstage at the Hippodrome to business owner, with a little help from Business West.

Dawn’s career in the arts started backstage as a dresser at the Bristol Hippodrome, where she worked on visiting stage shows before eventually stepping out into the big wide world of touring theatre. In 2012 she moved to onscreen productions, working in the production office on dramas and feature films. 

Working in theatre, film, and television gave Dawn a strong belief that all children should have the opportunity to be involved in the arts and, along with the booming filming industry in Bristol, this became the driving force behind her decision to start her own casting company: Briz Kidz Casting Ltd.

Briz Kidz Casting finds children for film and television projects across the South West and Wales. As well as a commercial venture, Dawn sees her business as a valued part of the community:

 “I have worked with children throughout my career and have seen them grow in confidence and self-esteem simply through being involved in the creative arts. It’s inspiring to watch them bloom in an environment that is so encouraging of their individuality.”

Dawn’s first step towards starting her business was to attend a business planning workshop delivered by Business West. It was there that she learned about the Start & Grow programme and the start-up loans available to West of England businesses. 

She told us that right from the start “the support I received from Business West gave me the confidence to start my business and the practical advice I needed to get it right first time.”

Looking back on her experience, Dawn highlighted ‘someone checking in on me and being there to listen when I needed it’ as one of the most valuable elements of the programme, alongside hands-on support with her business plan and accounts. 

Dawn is certain that starting her own business without support from the Business West Start & Grow programme would “have taken much longer with many more mistakes along the way”. She’s now looking forward to seeing where her business will take her next, and so are we. Here’s looking at you, kid.

If you’re thinking of setting up a business, start by booking onto our Business Planning and Finance Workshop – see upcoming dates.

Visit the Briz Kidz Casting website or find out more about what it's like to be a supporting artist.

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