Working with youth

I have written earlier about working with minors with their special permitting and chaperone care. These are just the details of our work.

In a project for a training kit for after school programs, I had two students that were chosen to be hosts for their school tours. The program directors hand picked them. I had a screen test that the students seemed to handle just fine.

I had sent them scripts well ahead of time and made the required preproduction location surveys and was getting close to the shoot dates. I had experience other students in interviews and some small testimonials, chosen by program directors, and had good success, but this was a more demanding experience for a middle school student.

I went to one of the schools the day before the shoot. The program director called for the student to come to the office for last minute preparations. We found the student had quit the program not letting us know. Fortunately, there was a backup and was ready to go.

That student was on time and started out well. Then the surprise came. Apparently his mother didn’t know his father had signed the release & refused to let the student participate. After some wrangling by the director we were able to proceed. Fortunately, the student did a great job. Whew! What happened to the other student in the video?

You might know how difficult it is to get students from two different schools in the same place for a video shoot, but when the one you thought would be no problem isn’t prepared, you are doomed. She didn’t handle her lines well and when we had returned for a second shoot (no $$$$) she didn’t show up. Oh my! We had taped the two students together with an adult host, so we couldn’t replace her. With some creative editing and some screen test footage, I was able to pull it out (felt that way).

Lesson? Bring the students, parents and the program director together in a meeting. Develop a relationship and establish the importance of the student showing up and prepared. Parent buy-in is important and could save you on production day. Prepare for the worst and be happy with your successes.

Minors in your video?

Minors in your video?

Minors in your video can be complicated. I produced a special interest video on gold panning. Part of the video was to include instruction for children. My co-producer wanted to use his grand kids as talent. That all seemed easy enough, but it was not so.

We needed and got the always required Minor Releases signed by the parents. We thought we were up to speed with that when the county film administrator said “do you have a studio teacher hired?” California State law requires this for the protection and care of children on a commercial set. The administrator helped us find one, and we thought we were ready to roll. Two days before the shoot the teacher asked said “you do have your work permits for the minors right?” Work permits require 48 hours at least. We were doomed, but no, the teacher double checked. As long as the kids were on the set for one day and for no pay, we were good.

The outcome was all good. The kids did great and we finished our shoot. The studio teacher said we had a coup as our kids, in an outdoor environment, under the stress of finding gold on camera, did fantastic. “You can find an acorn in the mud some day.”

Take the time to contact your film commissionDepartment of Industry Relations and get all the answers for minors on the set. It could cost you if you are not prepared.