Congratulations, you child has won a part Filming something! There are several types of filming projects, Adverts, TV Programmes, and Films. The basic routine is much the same for each, being slightly different depending on whether the filming is on Location or in the Studio.
With some filming work, the paperwork is at the bare minimum - just the licence Application (even that's not needed if your child already has a block licence!) You may receive a script or a shooting schedule in advance but most of the contact here will be done by phone, either through your Agent or by members of the production company.
Usually, there will be calls and arrangements in advance letting you know about costume fittings, travel and contact details. You may simply be asked your child's measurements over the phone and then arrive on the day where they will have a costume waiting, or your child may have to have some fittings in advance (and maybe even a photo session to record the costume for the records) Your agent will arrange the payment due to your child for this and other days. Your child may also undergo some appearance changes such as dyed or cut hair. This will be done in advance of the filming, but closer to the shoot date. Dye used, would usually wash out after a few washes. If your child has any allergies to these type of products, or any make-up, now would be the time to mention it! There may also be a time set aside for a read through of the whole script with all the cast who are available (some may not have been cast at the beginning of the shoot!)
The travel on the day(s) of filming, will usually be the responsibility of the production company (unless your child is an extra, in which case you may simply be told a time and place). This means that they will arrange for a car to pick you and your child up!(or refund you, if you are driving...) If you are unable to attend the filming, the car will first pick up the appointed chaperone before collecting your child - at no point should your child EVER be alone in a car without one. Be warned, the pick up can sometimes be very early in the morning and you will be expected to be ready! After filming has finished for the day, your child will be driven home again (with the chaperone if there is one).
You and your child will initially be taken to Unit Base. This can be a collection of busses, vans and portacabins, that contain everything needed to film on location, Wardrobe, dressing rooms, make up, a kitchen (with chef!), and toilets, amongst them. You will be shown to your dressing room if your child's part is a sizeable one, or a modified bus (with tables between the seats), if you are only there for a day or two. You can sit and wait in this bus until you are called, and it will be here that you will have the opportunity to meet other cast and crew. The 'Kitchen' will usually have a table outside which has a few snacks, fruit and drinks through out the day, for you to use as you require. Shortly before your child will need to do his or her piece of filming, they will be taken to wardrobe to change into the costume that has been selected, and if it is needed, make-up.
Unit Base: L>R: Cast and Crew Rest/Lunch Bus, Toilets, Make-up, Wardrobe, Stars Dressing Room/ Assistant Directors Room (1/2 cabin each), Kitchen Bus (green)
A little while later, they will then be taken to the shoot location, with you, where they will then be talked through the scene. Your child may have to have a hidden microphone added at this point, and you should be aware that all conversations from this time on, can be heard! (ask for it to be turned off if you want a private conversation) Once talked through the scene, it will be set up and there will be a run through. The scene will then be shot. It is very likely that the scene will be shot several times, and it can take up a lot of time especially if it needs to be re-set up each time. (A 30 second scene can take an hour+ to film...an advert 3 days or more...) Sound levels will need to be tested, the camera angle may change, the film in the camera may need replacing, someone may have fluffed their lines, they might want to change or cut the lines, the lighting may be altered, or the director may simply want to shoot several times to have a choice of which works the best with all the performers together. There are a multitude of reasons, so be prepared to stand around for quite a while between each shot, as it is re-set up. While you are waiting, your child may have several photos taken of him to ensure continuity, and for the recording of costumes, hairstyles and props. They may also experience continual fussing and tweaking by the hair/ makeup/ costume departments!
Tonee Roberio, make up artiste, on the set of 'Inside Looking Out' 2004
You as the parent, and chaperone for the day, will be expected to stand back out of the shot, remain quiet while filming is actually taking place, and be fully responsible for your child while they are waiting. It can be a dangerous environment with electrical cables etc. trailing everywhere, so children MUST be fully controlled for their own safety. As the chaperone, you must record the times that your child is working, resting or waiting. Your local authority may ask to see these records to ensure that the licence regulations are being kept to. If you are not there, a licenced chaperone will take your place, and be with your child at all times. If there is a group of two or more children, filming at different times, there may be a second chaperone to wait at unit base with the children not required at that time. If you would like to take any photographs of your child in costume, on set, or with any of the actors, make sure that you ask the assistant director (or second assistant) first!. There may be copyright reasons why you will not be allowed! If you ask however, they may try to arrange a couple of minutes to gather everyone together especially for your child. Most people seem to realise how special a day like this is for your child and are more than happy to give him or her an extra memory, if it doesn't interfere in any way with the job they are trying to complete. Don't overdo it if you are allowed, (don't take flash pictures while filming is going on,) and try not to be disapointed if they say no. They may have some production stills that you may be able to have after release!
Once the director is satisfied that his shot(s) have been captured, you will be taken back to Unit Base, where your child will be expected to get out of his or her costume (or put something over it to keep it clean) and then you can wait some more!
If it is lunch time (or breakfast for the early starters), there should be a choice of fully cooked meals to pick from, from the kitchen 'van'. They are usually delicious and free! However, you may find that the meals are geared towards the adults. If your child is a fussy eater, or has some specific dietary needs, you should mention this when you first speak to the production, and again to the chef, soon as you can after you arrive. They will usually try to accommodate if they know well enough in advance. Note that some smaller (or no) budget productions, will have a greatly reduced choice, if any at all...so it may be wise in these instances to come with a few items to nibble on in your bag just in case....
Once the day's filming has finished, you will be told that you can go home, and another car will be arranged. Unfortunately, you will not usually be able to take any of the costumes home (tho' it doesn't hurt to ask if you are interested!). This is in case any of the shots have not worked, and they need to recall the performers to re-shoot. They have to ensure that the costumes are in perfect condition and ready to re-use!
Once you have both been dropped off at the studio, you will be taken through security, and to the studio where your child will be filming. The first stop will be the Costume and make-up department, where you may also spend your time waiting until your call. The times given for your child's filming will be a little more precise, and you are more likely to have an in/out day, so waiting time to shoot is reduced. Once ready, your child and you will be taken to the studio for filming, where again, he will be talked through the scene, and have a run through just prior to the scene being shot.
With the different sets being set up in the same studio, it is likely that your child will film several scenes with different backgrounds, on the one day, and they won't necessarily be in the order that they will eventually be shown in. It is more cost effective for the studio to use your child as much as they can while they have him, within the limits of the child's licence.
The studio will have their own canteen, so bring some money with you for dinner, as you may have to pay (albeit subsidised).
Once finished, you will be chauffeured home again.
There may be a need for the production company to ask your child to film at Night. These shoot times can be very exhausting for some children, so you must ensure that they are not overworked, and get plenty of rest before, during and after the shoot. The waiting around, and boredom resulting from it, only compound any problems, causing some youngsters to get irritable. Keep an eye open on your child, and keep the Assistant Director informed if you feel things are getting too much for them.
Mother and Assistant Director looking on at the Director of photography, Director and Child Actress, during a night shoot
If your child has a passport, let your agent know, the opportunity for filming abroad will sometimes crop up! The filming routines will be much the same as the Location shoot, but you will be staying in a hotel or house organised for you (especially if it is a long shoot) Sometimes you may be flown out earlier, especially if your pale child needs to have a tan (damn, how hard is this job!) While there, ensure that your child has 2 days off a week, just because you are not in England, doesn't mean that the licence can be abused (and some film crews may try to push their luck...) All the rules and regulations are the same, and you as the chaperone, will be responsible for making sure they are kept to! It is your childs interest that should ALWAYS take priority...
Stand Firm! If a film crew is breaking the rules in any way, warn the Assistant director (nicely) that what they are doing is wrong. If they persist, do not be afraid to pull your child off the set. The law is there to protect your child, use it!