Your child has booked a job as a Background Actor or photo double. What happens now? Requirements for minors working on a production are different than those for adults, so even if you've worked as a Background Actor yourself, you may not know what to expect when it's your child's turn to show up to set. Here are some important things to remember when your minor books a job as a Background Actor.
Each minor needs to be accompanied by a parent or guardian who is not working on the production. Some productions have an age requirement for guardians. Check with the Casting Director who booked you to see if your production requires a guardian over the age of 21. The guardian will accompany the minor everywhere they go, from wardrobe, to school, to holding. Even during filming, the guardian will be on set, somewhere behind the scenes, but always within eyesight of the child.
If you are the parent or guardian accompanying a minor to set, please do not bring any other children or guests with you. Production can only accommodate children booked to work and may turn you away if you bring others with you.
Child labor laws differ from state to state and are subject to change. For more information on guardian and work requirements, visit your state's labor office.
Here are some useful links on child employment:
When a Casting Director books your minor, they will give you their work details. Make sure you write down the name of the project they're working on, where and when to report, and any wardrobe information you are given. Sometimes production will provide wardrobe for your child, but often you will be responsible for bringing your own. Have your child dressed in the expected wardrobe so they're ready to go when you arrive on set.
The most important rule to follow when working as a Background Actor is to show up on time. In the production world, on time means checked-in and camera ready. Make sure to check for call time changes before you go to bed, when you wake up, and before you leave for set. By getting to set on time, you're setting your child up for a successful day as a Background Actor.
If a meal is included, craft services will provide food during designated meals breaks. If a production is a "walk away lunch," no food will be provided for you. You will either need to bring your own food or purchase food from vendors.
You can also bring books or other forms of entertainment when you and your child are in Holding. Keep in mind that you will not be able to use production's outlets for charging, so bring your own battery packs.
Some states require minors to attend school on set. Depending on your call time, your child may attend their own school first, then will report to set only for work.
If your child is required to attend school on set, they will go to a designated classroom with other children and be instructed by a studio teacher. You will need to bring their valid work permit to show the teacher and enough homework to keep them busy throughout the day.
School hours may vary by the age of the child and whether their normal school is on break or in session. Depending on the production schedule, your child may attend school first thing when they arrive or at various times throughout their workday.
Check with your state's labor office for more school on set requirements.
Being on set is fun! Your child will get a front row seat to see how movies, TV shows, commercials, and other productions are made. For them, it may seem like more play than work. That's where you come in. Please remind your child that being a Background Actor is a job and help them to remain professional and focused throughout the day.
Our Kids page has all the information you need to get your child registered and booked by Central Casting. Still have questions? Come to a Visiting session to ask Casting Directors about what to expect when your child is booked.