“Your child should be a model! Your kid should be on television!” your neighbors, family, friends and babysitters shout to you. It all sounds so fun and so easy!
Then you realize it’s not so easy. But it could be fun and a great learning experience if you learn a few simple things.
1. You are responsible for your child on set.
Some productions have baby wranglers, but wranglers, as well as other production crew, are not babysitters. It’s your responsibility to make sure you’re available in a snap’s time in case needed. (For more information on baby wranglers, who and what they do, click HERE )
2. Do not raid the food table.
Never assume the craft services table is for you and your child. Craft services, aka crafty, could be just for the crew, just for the principal players or for everyone. Always ask before you take. To be on the safe side, always bring your own food, snacks and drinks. Feeding your children sugar while on set may make them bouncy and hard to work with. It’s best to teach your child about healthy eating as early as possible so they have no problem eating healthy snacks while on set. If your child has a sweet tooth and you’re okay with your child eating things like chocolate, etc., pack these items and let your child know that after the shoot / on the way home, they can have some.
3. If you make a promise, you’re bound to it.
If you promise your child something, be sure to deliver. Everyone has a bad day now and again. If your child is in a cranky mood, it’s human nature to offer them something to get them to be happy — even if it’s for your own sanity. Is this called a bribe? Yes. Some parents/guardians do this so if you’re one of those who do, make sure you do what you say you’re going to do. If your child starts crying on set that they want to take home the toy they’re playing with and you tell them you’ll go to the store and get them the toy, be sure to do it. If you make false promises, eventually your child will not be able to trust your word.
4. Do not yell at your child if they are acting up.
I’ve seen this at auditions way too often. Parents/guardians literally yell at their child in the waiting room if they are crying or being too loud. I’ve also seen children being yelled at after the audition if the parent feels they didn’t do well, i.e. forgot their lines, didn’t want to smile when told to smile. Instead of yelling at your toddler, be sympathetic and when you have privacy, find out why your child wasn’t happy. This will help you prevent the same situation next time.
You want your child to have a great, happy experience.
5. Never force your child to do something they don’t want to do.
A toddler rarely makes the decision to go into show business. Some kids love it, some kids hate it. If your child exhibits that they are just not interested, then don’t force them into the business. Think hard — is it YOUR dream or THEIR dream?
6. Do not jeopardize your child’s safety.
If you feel there are unsafe conditions, immediately call your child’s manager and/or agent to discuss. If you booked on your own and you’re in the union, call your union rep. If you do not fall into any of these categories, talk to the production people direct, but under no circumstances should you ever allow your child to work in unsafe conditions. This includes getting to set. If there is a weather warning and you do not feel comfortable going to set, let your contact know as soon as possible. Sometimes the production has backup children who are able to make it in (example: kids who live in the city vs. kids who have to travel.)
7. Make an informed decision about which auditions you choose to go to.
If it costs you $50+ to go to an audition (tolls, parking, gas, public transportation), then you may want to consider which auditions you choose to accept. If the job pays $100 for the day but you have to go on the initial audition plus two callbacks, your child now just lost money, even if he/she books. Remind yourself why you put your toddler in show biz. Is it because you want them to have fun? Do you want them to have a different experience than other children? Or do you want to save for college? This is a catch-22 because if you turn down too many auditions, your agent/manager may stop submitting you for jobs.
8. Your child is not going to be asked to every audition.
Do not ask your agent / manager why your child was not asked to an audition even if your friend’s child who is the same age and look as your kid is auditioning. Your agent/manager is working hard to submit your child, but often times the casting director or director chooses from the submissions. Also, each agent / manager only has a certain amount of slots to fill. Your child may be chosen next time while his/her friend may not be chosen.
9. Do not have an attitude.
Be pleasant to everyone at the auditions and on set. Never complain that you’re at an audition for two hours. Don’t “whisper” to other parents on set how horrible the conditions are vs. the conditions on the last job. Always treat the assistants and everyone else involved with respect. And remember that those assistants may one day be casting directors and directors!
10. Let your toddler be a toddler.
Kids are kids. Working in show business is an experience and hopefully your child will have fond memories of this period.