human emotion

Working with children is a well documented challenge and when it comes to filming, there are some extra challenges to consider. We have worked with children on many shoots including our most recent ad for the SS Great Britain, and we have picked up a few handy tips to make the filming process run smoothly.

Casting 

The first challenge often faced when filming is casting your child star. This can be a daunting task as there are so many things to consider. To help, here is a list of our key considerations when casting.

1. Age

Age plays a massive factor when filming as the child’s age dictates the length of time they can be on set and in front of the camera. Below we have left our handy guide to filming hours. You will see that a 4 year old will only be allowed on set for 5 hours a day and only be performing for two hours. A 9 year old however, can stay on set for 9.5 hours and perform for 5 hours, giving you significantly longer to get the shots you need.

It is also worth considering the maturity of your young talent. From experience we find that children under 5 can struggle to stay focused and will not always take direction well. If a child is a little tired that day or has a sudden bout of shyness, it can really affect their performance. The best way to combat this is to cast children that look younger than they are. We found that children aged 8 years and above have lots more concentration and so will take direction better, even towards the end of a long day.

2. Child’s experience.

This is not always a necessity but children who have experience being on set will be more comfortable with the environment. It can be pretty intimidating when walking onto a large set with a big crew so being familiar with the environment will help ease some of that anxiety.

3.The co-stars.

When casting on screen siblings it might be worth trying to cast real life siblings especially if one of the children is younger. The older sibling could help lead the other child and would already have the sibling relationship to work from. They are already comfortable with that person and can help give a more authentic performance.

Pre Production

Once casting is completed you can move onto the next set of considerations during pre production.

1.Chaperones. All working children on set will need a chaperone. The chaperone is responsible for the child’s welfare and will keep track of rehearsal times, performance times and rest time. The chaperone will be with the child from the moment they arrive on set till the moment they leave. The child’s agent should be able to recommend a chaperone or in some cases, a parent can chaperone on set, however they must be a fully qualified chaperone.

2.Child friendly environment. When on set a child needs a rest area where they can wait in between takes as well as a child only bathroom facility. This is required by law as part of the working child’s welfare standards.

3.Rehearsals. Before filming starts it is always a good idea to meet up for either a formal rehearsal or an informal chat to allow the child to become familiar with other cast members and the director who will be working with them. Again this should help relieve anxiety.

4.Time. Make sure you have left enough time to acquire the child licence. Most councils require 21 working days to turn around a child licence. Some are more flexible, some are definitely not. The child’s agent should have a good idea about who would get a licence on short notice and who would not. The agent will sort the performing licence for you but make sure you leave enough time.

On set

1.Space. The big day has arrived and the child has arrived on set. This can be daunting if it is their first time on set so it is important to give the child space and some time to settle in. They may be a little shy at first so if you let the child adjust to the environment before approaching them they will come out of their shell quicker.

2.Dialog. It is important to keep the conversation flowing between parent, child, chaperone and director so at the start of the day make time to talk to all parties. By making sure everyone is on the same page at the start of the day you will find that everyone is more keen to work together and at ease to flag any concerns.

3.Regular breaks. This will be enforced by the chaperone if necessary, however it is a good idea to give the child lots of breaks throughout the day to reduce tiredness. Particularly in younger children, tiredness can cause a child to become emotional and less cooperative so make sure not to tire your artist out too much.

4.Keep it fun. Being a child actor is all about fun. It is important to make sure your child actor has a positive experience and enjoys the day as much as possible.

If you are considering creating an animation, contact Fable Studios. Fable Studios is a Creative-led, boutique video and animation studio who create tailored brand stories that endure in your audience’s mind. We combine your objectives with audience insights and inspired ideas to create unforgettable productions that tell the unique story of your brand. Find out more about us at www.fablestudios.tv

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