It all started with an unexpected tap on the shoulder.
Jason Skoyles was out shopping with his son, Kannon, now age 4, in a Whole Foods supermarket in Yonkers, when talent agent Anna Estrada stopped him in the aisle to ask about the possibility of Kannon doing modeling.
“The thought had never crossed my mind, but I took her card and we continued the conversation two days later. It was all new to me. I provided her with some photos of Kannon and my younger son, Penn, who was also with us that day.”
TAKING THE PLUNGE
Estrada liked what she saw in Kannon — a handsome, happy child with two big dimples framing an ear-to-ear smile — and quickly drew up a contract with her agency, TTA Model & Talent Management Inc. After discussing things with his wife, Sarah, Jason decided to take the plunge and signed on.
“We talked about a couple of possible assignments with Anna and then just three days later, she called us about Kannon possibly playing the role of Tom Thumb, the midget and circus fixture, in the movie ‘The Greatest Showman,’ starring Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron.”
The Skoyleses, who live in Waccabuc, were surprised by the suddenness of everything, but Jason agreed to bring Kannon to the huge Brooklyn Navy Yard movie studios the following day, Oct. 15, for what was described as “an interview” with Hugh Jackman.
“This was an amazing leapfrog jump over the entire agonizing casting call process,” Jason says. “It was only six days from the Whole Foods encounter to the meeting with Hugh Jackman.
“The Greatest Showman,” an original musical, tells the story of Phineas Taylor “P.T.” Barnum (1810-91), America’s first family-entertainment entrepreneur.
Barnum, a native of Bethel, Connecticut, was also the onetime mayor of Bridgeport, a state legislator and a philanthropist. He created the first three-ring circus — what became the traveling Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus, an American institution. Directed by Michael Gracey, the movie is scheduled for release Dec. 25.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
When Jason arrived on the busy set, he says he was nervous about what might happen. “I had prepared for the meeting with Hugh Jackman by showing Kannon some photos of him, and the initial meeting went quickly and well. We were vying with two other youngsters, who were there with their families and had probably been through a much longer process of auditions and elimination. But Kannon got the nod.”
Jason says he had misgivings about how Kannon would cope with the studio, but he did “extraordinarily well.”
The first scene with Jackman last December proved to be the only bump in the road.
“All he had to do was walk a straight line to Hugh and stand there while Hugh had lines with another character,” Jason says. But rather than walk the line, Kannon was distracted by the boom microphone, continually pointing to it and seeing it in his mind as a “kitty” he wanted to play with. “Cute at first, but creating panic after a while,” Jason says. “But after six takes, we got the shot that was needed.”
Jason says he found a way to allay any anxieties Kannon might experience while on the set. “I told Kannon we were going for a ride on a spaceship to calm any nerves he might have about all of chaos and action on the set. It worked.
“There was no dialogue (for Kannon) to cope with but often he would draw applause from the crew,” Jason adds. “I was very proud of him.”
Jason says he was happy Kannon had the opportunity to get a start in the movie industry at such a young age. “It was very strange to get his W-2 a few weeks ago. I have been able to fit in Kannon’s ‘job’ with my career at a publishing company, taking the lead while Sarah, a critical care nurse, is working very hard towards her nurse practitioner license.”
Jason says he and Sarah are going to pursue more movie work for Kannon in the future.
“After the ‘hand of fate’ touched us at Whole Foods, we loved the experience and are looking forward to what’s next,” he adds. “Work on the Barnum movie continues and Anna Estrada, our agent at TTA Modeling, has booked some modeling jobs for Kannon and our family. At this point, we are open to anything,expecting nothing and are just happy to be a part of it all.”