Working with kids and animals on a film project can really be an awesome experience if you know how to do it right.
Some experienced filmmakers warn newbies not to work with children or animals when making films, which is understandable given the added risk and responsibility. But not only are kids and pets occasionally a necessity for a project, but they can also truly make the end result shine. In this video from Cooper Films, Tom Hipp offers some helpful tips on working with pint-size actors and their furry companions on a busy film set.
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIjxsYB3AgY
Be prepared for the responsibility
There are many unique obstacles that come with working with children and animals. Labor laws, scheduling conflicts, and, you know, the fact that one is a tiny human and the other isn't a human at all. So, be prepared to not have your set run the same way it would without these kinds of actors.
Get to know your talent during casting
Kids and animals can make your project so much better, but there are definitely inherent risks to hiring them. This is why it's important to really get to know your actors during the casting process, including how they respond to situations similar to the ones you want them to perform in. As the video states, get them as close to what they'll be doing in the project: put them with the same actors they'll be performing with or if they're an animal have them perform the trick you want them to do on camera.
Pay attention to energy levels
If you have a kid you know that they can be jumping off walls one minute and falling asleep on a bed of LEGOs the next. It's important to understand that a child actor doesn't have the same energy levels as an adult, so you won't be able to put them through as many takes, rehearsals, or preparation. The lesson: come prepared!
Make sure there's someone on set that jives
Everyone knows that one person that kids just love to be around for some reason. This individual, whether they are a PA, 1st AD, or whatever, is an invaluable asset when there are kids working on a film, because they help make these young actors feel excited and energetic when things get boring on set.
Do you have any advice on working with kids and animals? Let us know down in the comments.