10 Questions To Ask Yourself When Directing Child Actors

Working with child actors is probably something you’ve been taught to avoid in film if you studied courses like we did. Although it presents a lot of challenges, the results can be incredible. Who can forget Lindsay Lohan’s performance in The Parent Trap? Or Macauley Culkin in the Home Alone series? Watching films such as The Florida Project, Room and Kramer vs. Kramer, it’s easy to see how working with child actors is sometimes unavoidable, however, when done correctly, their performance could be the key to your film’s success.

Budding film enthusiasts, Kathryn Butt and Dušan Mrđen, are here to discuss the top 10 things to consider before your shoot with child actors. Dušan has limited experience working with child actors (as a producer), so he knows first-hand – it ain’t easy. That’s why you need to properly plan and organize every detail in pre-production. So, if you’re determined to give it a shot, here’s some handy things to bear in mind to ensure you’re ready:


1 – When are you filming?

K: It’s a lot easier to organise your shoots around the school calendar, so weekends are great for a short-shoot. If you require a longer shoot schedule, maybe consider putting off your shoot until the end of term or during school holidays. If your film requires a night-time shoot, it’s important to bear in mind the legal obligations around working late. You’ll need to prepare your actor for a late night as their energy levels directly affect their on-screen performance. Make sure to allow them time to be well-rested before your shoot. You also need to take into account the time of year you’re shooting in – which brings us to….


2 – Where are you filming?

K: This also ties in with ‘When’, as you need to take into account weather conditions. If you’re shooting on a beach in the peak of summer, or in a car park at midnight, you need to ensure you’re prepared for extra breaks. Ensure their health isn’t compromised by providing sun-screen or bringing extra blankets etc. Also, how far away is the shoot from where they live? If it’s a long drive for a few hours of work then your actors could end-up overtired. Consider accommodation and travel when choosing your location. Also practicality, if you’re shooting in a swimming pool etc. bear in mind the safety of your location and prepare your actor beforehand.

child actors

Moonlight by Barry Jenkins

3 – Have you done your legal research?

K: First things first, check the legal requirements for children working in Entertainment & Film and ensure you adhere to them at all stages of production. It is paramount that you check your local regulations as well, as licenses may be required by your council in order to film. It’s important you check the restrictions on hours as well, and ensure you know the breaks they require whilst in your employment.

4 – Do you have all your paperwork?

K: …And there’s probably going to be a lot of it. If you stand any chance at sending your film to festivals, you’ll need proof that you obtained the correct paperwork. This includes parental consent & release forms, along with any legal documentation. Sometimes licenses can take a few weeks to be obtained, so ensure that you allow time and plan well ahead.

D: There will most certainly be a lot of it. Even when you think you have everything collected – the likelihood is that you don’t. Check everything twice and categorise every piece of documentation to save yourself time later. Research online, talk to your local council, ask your tutors and mentors, and especially other filmmakers for advice.

child actors

Home Alone by Chris Columbus

5 – How long will your shoot take?

K: You need to know how long your actor is allowed to work so that you can make the best use of your time on set. If you can only shoot for a few hours, you don’t want to spend those hours setting-up equipment or experiencing technical issues. The more prepared you are, the better your shoot will be. If you are likely to run over time, plan the shoot over a couple of days. Kids can have short attention spans so allow yourself more time to work with them and get the best footage.

6 – Who will be responsible for them?

K: Have you discussed with the parents whether they will be on-set at all times? It is strongly advised to encourage the presence of parents or guardians on set. Not only for the actor but for your own peace of mind. In some circumstances this may not be possible, in which case you will need to find an appropriate chaperone to accompany the actor to/from & on-set.

D: The parents might not want to be exactly on set (in some cases they might actually be in the way) but you need to make sure they have access to their child at all times whilst keeping an eye on the situation and anything else that might arise.

7 – Have you done a risk assessment?

K: I know, I know, they’re incredibly dull to do & you know the drill, but they’re arguably more important than ever when working with child actors. Things that you may not necessarily consider a hazard for adults might become dangerous with active, excitable young minds on set.

D: On one of the films I was producing whilst working with a child actor, I was adamant that the child’s health was at the forefront of production. The DOP that was on-set kept using a smoke machine to make the shot cinematically enticing. After a few minutes, I noticed the child was coughing – so I had to ask them to compromise and lay off the smoke. And the kid was too shy to admit it that it was because of the smoke!

child actors

Room by Lenny Abrahamson

8 – What about casting?

D: I would strongly encourage you to find a good casting director, preferably someone who has worked with at least one child actor before. When doing auditions with children, it’s important to be flexible and understanding as the children often get scared and have stage fright. The most important thing to pay attention to is the fact that they have to be receptive and aware of their surroundings. Messing up their lines during an audition is less important at that stage as long as they’re comfortable.

9 – Have you communicated with the child?

D: It’s also important that you spend a reasonable amount of time talking with the child and their parents, so the child can respond to you. When you get to the actual production, you might find it difficult to find time and you need them to feel comfortable on-set. Things tend to get a bit hectic, but it’s important the child is not afraid of you and can take direction.

10 – Do you have everything you need?

K: Make sure you have enough refreshments for them and enough things to keep them occupied between sets. There’s nothing worse than a bored child on-set – keep them entertained! Organise mini tours so there’s new things to look at throughout the day. Keep some toys/books/games on set to fill their off-screen time and keep their energy up. Ask parents for any essential requirements to minimise delays during the day.

D: …Oh, I highly recommdend Gummy Bears (you’re welcome). Most importantly, make sure they have fun! If they’re enjoying themselves, it’s likely that everyone else will too!

child actors

Find out more about 

Read Dušan’s article on motivating your film crew here.

The post 10 Questions To Ask Yourself When Directing Child Actors appeared first on Raindance.


Original ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Actors Will Dub the Live-Action Remake in Japan

Ghost in the Shell Dubbed

For fans of the original Ghost in the Shell anime and manga who might be perturbed by the fact that the live-action adaptation from Paramount Pictures is starring Scarlett Johansson, creating another instance of whitewashing in Hollywood, the studio is trying to make amends in an interesting but potentially problematic way.

When a Hollywood film is released in Japan, audiences can choose to see it with subtitles or dubbed by actors. In the case of Ghost in the Shell, the actors doing the voiceover work for the dubbed version will be the original voice actors of the anime adaptation from 1995.

News of the dubbed Ghost in the Shell version came from the Japanese site Natalie (via Kotaku), which reports that Atsuko Tanaka will lend her voice to Scarlett Johansson’s character Mira, the Americanized version of protagonist Motoko Kusanagi from the original anime. In addition, Akio Otsuka will be voicing Batou, a role that he already reprised for Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence and Stand Alone Complex. Also joining him will be Kochi Yamadera as Togusa.

On one hand, this is good news for Japanese fans who want their dubbed movies to have gifted voice actors bringing a movie to life. Japanese audiences are very particular about the actors chosen to dub movies that aren’t in Japanese. Back in 2012 there was quite the backlash when some of the voice actors for the dubbed version of The Avengers were downright terrible, ruining the entire experience for many viewers. This happens because sometimes popular celebrities at the time are hired instead of actors who are the most talented person for a given job.

Ghost in the Shell anime director Mamoru Oshii had this to say about the hiring of his original voice actors for the Japanese dub:

“It’s been a while since they’ve played these characters. I definitely want them to deliver performances they see fit. They’re all pros, so there’s nothing to worry about, and I can only say that this is something to look forward to.”

Therefore, bringing in Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Otsuka and Kochi Yamadera to reprise their roles is a smart move as far as hiring the best person for the job. But on the other hand, it also calls even more attention to the fact that Paramount Pictures didn’t want to create a live-action Ghost in the Shell adaptation with an Asian leading lady. Paramount has put plenty of Asian actors into this adaptation, but not having one in the lead felt like a slap in the face to fans.

The post Original ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Actors Will Dub the Live-Action Remake in Japan appeared first on /Film.


‘Isolation’ Trailer: Because ‘Avatar,’ ‘Prison Break,’ and ‘Battlestar Galactica’ Actors Gotta Eat

isolation trailer

Look, Isolation: you kind-of, sort-of had me with “Stephen Lang is a modern day pirate and a pervert who holds a guy hostage with a corkscrew in one scene.” It’s a shame that the rest of the trailer for this upcoming thriller, which is being dumped direct to DVD and VOD in April, looks so bland. So very, very bland.

But guys: I’m not sure I can say no to Stephen Lang in a goofy hat and a tank top terrorizing Battlestar Galactica‘s Tricia Helfer. Help.

Look, a movie can get a lot of mileage out of just letting an actor as tough and intimidating as Lang strut his stuff for the duration of the running time. His over-the-top villainy remains my favorite aspect of Avatar and his work as a psychopathic, murderous blind man in last year’s Don’t Breathe still makes my skin crawl when I think about it. Plus, I admire that Lang is true working actor, the kind of guy who can star in one of the biggest movies of all time and then star in a direct-to-video thriller because that’s what a guy has to do to pay the mortgage and put food on the table. Right on, Stephen Lang.

Anyway, the plot of Isolation has something to do with a couple (one half played by Helfer) who vacation in the Bahamas and find themselves at the mercy of a trio of modern day pirates. Lang is one of those pirates. Another one of them is Prison Break and Legends of Tomorrow star Dominic Purcell, who looks more and more like Vinnie Jones with each passing year.

It certainly doesn’t look good, but there are a few B-movie pleasures to be gleamed from that footage. I’m a sucker for any scene involving live-action sharks. Help.

Isolation is directed by Shane Dax Taylor and it’s been finished for at least a few years, having made a brief film festival appearance back in 2015. It arrives on digital HD, VOD and Wal-Mart exclusive DVD (oof) on April 18, 2017. Here’s the official synopsis:

Hoping to restore their flagging marriage, Lydia (Tricia Helfer) and Creighton (Luke Mably) journey to a remote island in the sun-drenched Bahamas. One drunken night, they return to their cabin to find it ransacked. Will nearby couple Max (Dominic Purcell) and Nina (Marie Avgeropoulos) offer them help — or harm? Also starring Stephen Lang, this seductive, sinister thriller shows that trust can be a dangerous thing.

The post ‘Isolation’ Trailer: Because ‘Avatar,’ ‘Prison Break,’ and ‘Battlestar Galactica’ Actors Gotta Eat appeared first on /Film.


Watch Actors Improv The ‘Doctor Strange’ End Credits Scene

doctor strange end credits scene
Disney has been releasing clips of some of the bonus features in promotion for the home video release of Doctor Strange. They’ve released deleted scenes, a gag reel and now we can finally see some behind the scenes footage of the filming of the Doctor Strange end credits scene. The featurette, which shows Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, alongside another Marvel hero, improving a scene for the end credits tag. Watch the Doctor Strange end credits featurette now after the jump.

Doctor Strange End Credits Featurette

As Doctor Strange executive producer Stephen Broussard explains, Marvel often doesn’t script out their end credits tags before production. Sometimes it’s scripted beforehand, like the tags on the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Other times, the end credits scene comes out of some joke the filmmakers come up with while shooting the film.

The Doctor Strange end tag apparently came about as production of Thor: Ragnarok heated up. The video above shows some great footage of Chris Hemsworth and Benedict Cumberbatch improving the scene with each other. I wish Marvel would release an extended clip of some of this footage.

Marvel’s Doctor Strange arrives on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere starting tomorrow, February 14th, 2017, and then will be released on DVD and Blu-ray two weeks later on February 28th, 2017.

The post Watch Actors Improv The ‘Doctor Strange’ End Credits Scene appeared first on /Film.