For Stage Parents:
Your kid wants to perform, Great! But before making that commitment know what’s involved.
If your child is working that means you are working. Yes, it’s 2 for the price of one since a child must be accompanied by a parent at all times. If your child gets a long shoot and is expected to be on-set for weeks – so are you.
You will be expected to arrange for everything, photo shoots, transportation, resumes, auditions and casting calls, meetings and much more. Be prepared to do a lot of running around and piling up the gas mileage.
Now, ask yourself if you child is ready to do the same. If the answer is yes, read on.
On-Set Tips for kids in acting
Your child booked a job. Great. Here are a few tips to get you and your child through the production day.
- Always plan to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early.
- Union jobs have many guidelines for children. Check with the union and read all the guidelines.
- Do not bring others to the set. Leave friends, family and other kids at home. If you have other kids, plan on getting child care for them. This is a job and you would not normally bring others to work with you. Producers do not want any distractions since distractions waste time and time is money.
- If you must bring someone else, clear it with producers well in advance.
- Always plan on staying on set with your child and where you can always see your child. Producers should not tell you otherwise.
- Make sure your child understands that performing is actual work and your child will be expected to follow instructions well.
- Do your best to prepare your child for the role. Before your on set appointment, you should explain the nature of the role to your child.
- If your child is asked to do something that feels wrong, trust your instincts. You have a right to say NO. If your child has a potential emotional or physical reaction such as fear of heights, which may affect his or her performance, or an allergy, always tell the producers at the time of booking.
- Make sure the two of you get plenty of rest beforehand. Staying on set long hours can be quite tiring and draining, especially on children.
- Remember things may not always go as planned and always expect you may have to stay longer than the amount of time you were told up until the max that may be worked by children. (There are guidelines to how many hours children can work on-set and producers should abide by those guidelines). Make sure you plan ahead with babysitters and others to stay more than the amount of time you were originally told.
- Always ask what your child should wear or bring with him. Do not expect a wardrobe be provided. Many times producers will ask the kids to wear their own clothes or bring things with them.
- There will be lots of ‘waiting around’ on set. Always bring things to occupy your child’s attention between takes. Bring reading material or some games.
- Many productions provide transportation, they may not offer it to you so if transportation is needed make sure you ask so that you can plan accordingly.
- If you are using the production companies transportation, keep in mind that they may be picking up and dropping off others and plan for delays when dealing with daycare and babysitters.
- If your child will be missing school you may be able to get on-set tutoring. It is up to you to coordinate this between the production company and your child’s school.
Useful links for child actors and their parents:
SAG – The Screen actors guild has lots of information for child actors as well as the guidelines that productions must adhere to when it comes to children – Check them out here
Safety Tips on set for kids
Some states such as California require the use of a special account called a Coogan Account before a child can get paid. Read up on Coogan Accounts and what they mean to you.
Kids and ACTRA (Canada)
More about ‘Coogan Laws”
Coogan laws were set up to protect the childs money. The law is named after Jackie Coogan (Uncle Feaster of the Addams Family) who battled his mother in court for his money.
In January 1, 2000, changes in California law affirmed that earnings by minors in the entertainment industry are the property of the minor, not their parents.
For the above reasons a special trust account called a Coogan account is needed in CA for a child to get paid. Make sure all this is set up properly and prior to the shoot.
Not all banks offer Coogan Accounts, the following do offer them.
- AFTRA/SAG Federal Credit Union
- Actors Federal Credit Union
- Bank of America
- Bank of the West
- City National Bank
- First Entertainment Credit Union
- Morgan Stanley/Smith Barney
- Union Bank of California
- Wells Fargo
Kids on set and homework
It is up to you to talk to your child’s school and teachers about your child working and missing some school. Make sure you request any assignments and make sure your child will get proper credit.
Screen Actor’s Guild recommends the following:
Talk to Your Child’s School
Here are a few examples of things you should discuss with your child’s school authorities prior to employment:
- What is your school’s policy on attendance? Will this absence be classified as excused?
- Who will be the primary contact at the school (principal, teacher, guidance counselor)? Will the parent or the on-set teacher be the primary liaison with the school?
- How will daily assignments be obtained (by e-mail, telephoned, picked up by parent)?
- How often will the assignments be issued (daily, weekly)?
- Can advance work or extra credit assignments be provided?
- How much flexibility and what option does the set teacher have in supplementing or providing alternate assignments?