Three Top Tips for Planning an Advertisement Involving Children
It’s one of the golden rules: “Never work with animals or children”. However, certain products and services simply necessitate that you take on younger stars for your advertisements, and what’s more, if you get it right, children can deliver some great and spontaneous performances.
This said, there are steps that you need to take to ensure that the process runs smoothly, not just for your production, but for the children and their parents too.
Here are a couple of our top tips for working with children when filing an advertisement.
Know the Law
There’s a heap of red tape that comes when filming with children, so you need to be clued up on the rules and regulations before beginning work.
Firstly, if a child is under school leaving age (16) they may need a performance license.
These licences can be applied for at gov.uk, so check here if you’ll need one, and bear in mind that if your child does require a license, they’ll also need a designated adult on set at all times such as a parent or guardian.
You’ll also need to be aware of the rules surrounding working hours. For example, children can’t work for any longer than four hours without a break of at least an hour.
This page at Film London has some more information surrounding the rules when working with children.
Don’t Overwork Them
Kids can be hard to gauge. One second they may be bouncing off the ceiling and super-excited to get to work, and the next they could completely crash and throw a strop, holding up the whole ad and causing all kinds of headaches.
For this reason, make sure to keep an eye on the children and their energy levels, being sure to give them a break when necessary.
Along the same lines, be sure to try and get your shots as quickly as possible. Kids won’t stand and redo the same take over and over again like an adult, so do your best to get the shot you need while they’re still happy to play along!
It’s also a good idea to spend a little bit of time getting to know the younger actors you’re working with, building up a rapport and letting them know the role that they’re going to play in bringing the ad to life.
Try to Keep Them Entertained
When there is some downtime (as there often is on film sets), make sure to take some time to try and keep the children entertained while there isn’t much going on.
Having some toys and games on set is always a good starting point, as is having a simple rewards system where younger actors get sweets or toys for working so hard!
In the US, many Hollywood film sets employ what is known as a ‘baby wrangler’. An entertainer who comes in specifically to keep children entertained during downtime on the set.
While it is more of a US thing, ‘Filming with Kids’ claim to be the UK’s only baby wranglers, specialising in working with younger actors on film sets and getting the best performance possible from them.
So next time your ad calls for younger actors, don’t shy away, but just make sure that you take steps to ensure that they’re comfortable on set, and that you aren’t breaking any rules!