Top 12 things to know about child actors

Obviously there are certain circles where it poses no problem to have children work and the entertainment world is one of them. If this can pose certain questions from a moral point of view, we have therefore found two possibilities to overcome this problem. The first was intended to be permissive and supervised and consisted in allowing them to follow their studies during filming and to limit their daily working hours. The second, more closed, consisted of disguising adults as children or babies so that they could play the roles instead of real children. Obviously we chose the first one and we are therefore going to explain to you how it actually happens when shooting for a toddler.

1. The production must transparently provide information about the shooting to legal representatives

In France, the first thing we will ask for is the agreement of the legal representatives (usually the parents of the child), we could also ask the kid concerned but obviously we don’t care a bit what he think (at least under 13). It is obviously necessary to attach to the parents the scenario and the explanation of what the child will have to play, the amount of his salary and the shooting schedule.

2. A fixed and regulated hourly rate is imposed in France

Depending on the age and the time of year (holidays), a child can work for specific periods of time:

Under 3 years old : One hour of work per day with a mandatory break after half an hour of work.

3 to 5 years old : Two hours of work per day with a mandatory break after one hour of work.

From 6 to 11 years old : Three hours of work per day (four during holidays) with a mandatory break after one and a half hours of work.

From 12 to 16 years old : Four hours of work per day (six during holidays) with a compulsory break after two hours of work.

3. The child is given a medical examination

It’s a bit of a mix between occupational medicine and paediatrics, which could also lead to a medical specialization of “occupational pediatrician” but since in our beautiful country it is estimated that a child does not have the right to work, this erases the dream of many aspiring doctors. Be that as it may, the toddler must pass a medical examination from which emerges an aptitude for work: he may or may not work. That being said, it is not the doctor who gets the last word but a commission that rules on the final decision.

top 12 things to know about child actors
Picture credits: Topito

4. Salary percentages are fixed between legal representatives and children

To avoid the famous stories of child stars ripped off by their own parents, a defined percentage of the salary is set by law. Thus 10% of the pay goes to the parents and 90% is placed in an account that the child can unlock once he reaches majority. However, there is an “emergency” possibility to release the funds, but this requires a commission. So the father can’t show up at the bank yelling “damn damn it’s urgent I have to buy a new car” and spend his kid’s money.

5. Child actors can work at night at hours set by law

In France, work between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. is considered night work for children under sixteen. Obviously we’re not going to make a 5-year-old child play at 3:30 in the morning, don’t mess around, they’re better off in bed having nightmares and waking up their parents. As a result, there are imposed time slots that can be obtained with an exemption to make them work between 10 p.m. and midnight. Still, these kids are lazy.

6. However, there are rules and parameters that come into play to validate a request

– The filming must not interfere with the child’s schooling or the production must set up school monitoring (if the filming is relocated from the school)

– Shooting and hygiene conditions must be ensured

– There must be full transparency of the role he has to play: from his morality to his difficulty

– Permanent supervision by a dependent

top 12 things to know about child actors

7. If you don’t respect these laws, you risk serious penalties.

While we can agree that generally breaking the law is a good way to get in trouble, doing so when it comes to child labor can be quite punitive. If you do not have the handwritten notice, the prior authorization (request to the commission) or if you do not respect the imposed working hours and break times, you can risk a fine of €75,000 and up to 5 years in prison. Yeah clearly better not mess around and dress one of your buddies up as a kid if you haven’t gotten the permissions.

8. Fixed salaries

Okay, so we’re talking about the average salaries in effect in the industry, eh, not those of child stars who earn millions of dollars because they play in films that take place at Hogwarts. Basically, a child extra will receive 330€ per day of work on average and a child actor (important role or with dialogue) will be on a fixed price of around 400€ per day. It’s still better than going to school frankly. Besides, it always goes well for child stars (no) as we show you in the list of child stars before/after.

9. Favoritism for twins / twins in the USA

Do you know why the Olsen twins played in “The House Party” as one and only little girl? Because, as in France, young children cannot play for more than a certain number of hours a day, suddenly twins / triplets are very popular since they can chain “performances” while playing the same character and therefore to be present almost an entire day.

top 12 things to know about child actors

10. Working time does not include filming only

When we say, for example, that a child will work 3 hours, in the USA that also includes transport, dressing, make-up, rehearsals… In short, a whole bunch of stuff that can easily reduce “real” filming time. So you generally have to make sure not to waste too much time on this preparation, which can quickly ruin your shoot.

11. Filming with a baby is extremely complex.

In the USA, an infant can work from the age of 15 days. We agree that 15 days is not even an age, at best it is the duration of a vacation rental. In addition, the “work” times are very short (about 20 minutes) and if he falls asleep you do not have the right to wake him up and must therefore consider that he cannot work but still pay him for it. displacement, which once again proves the very relative usefulness of these living beings. For this reason, dolls are usually used to shoot most of the scenes.

12. You can hide a lot from child actors.

Let’s take the example of shooting horror films, we will generally try to hide as much as possible from the children that they are playing in a film of this kind and limit the scenes which can prove to be traumatic. We act as if it were for fun and we preserve the children as much as possible, which is quite logical in the end. In the same way, when shooting with very young children or babies, we ask the team to behave accordingly: no profanity or abusive stuff but above all a lot of calm, which is complex when we know the scale of certain shoots and the ambient noise that reigns there.

Well, it seems logical all the same, after all, they are still children.

Sources: AFAR (1, 2), SFA, Le Parisien, Brightside.


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