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

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

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Sitges Review: ‘The Osiris Child’ is Ultra Ambitious Sci-Fi Storytelling

The Osiris Child Review

Where did this film come from?! I finally caught up with a sci-fi feature called The Osiris Child, originally titled Science Fiction Volume One: The Osiris Child in full. This film is way, way, way better than it should be, and left me totally blown away. It’s not perfect by any means, but it is extremely impressive storytelling, with some cool ideas I have never seen before in any film. I can’t speak for others who don’t like it, but I can say this is exactly the kind of sci-fi I love. It’s remarkably ambitious storytelling on a galactic scale, created on a minimal budget, utilizing some sleek filmmaking tricks that actually make this successful. The world building (or rather, universe building) in this rivals Luc Besson’s Valerian, and in all honesty, upon first viewing I actually like this more than Valerian. I really, really enjoyed it – but I do not think everyone will. ›››

Continue reading Sitges Review: ‘The Osiris Child’ is Ultra Ambitious Sci-Fi Storytelling


Adam Scott Battles an Evil Child in First Trailer for Netflix’s ‘Little Evil’

Little Evil Trailer

“There is nothing wrong with Lucas!” Netflix has released the official trailer for an indie horror comedy titled Little Evil, the latest from Eli Craig, director of the other great horror comedy Tucker and Dale vs Evil. Remember that one? We covered it closely during its release back in 2010. Little Evil stars Adam Scott as a man who marries the woman of his dreams, played by Evangeline Lilly. The only problem is that her child is the antichrist. Also starring Bridget Everett, Clancy Brown, Tyler Labine, Donald Faison, Chris D’Elia, and Owen Atlas as Lucas. This looks good, don’t think we’ve seen many comedies making fun of the evil child horror trope, but I’m up for this. Glad to see something new from Eli Craig, too. Enjoy. ›››

Continue reading Adam Scott Battles an Evil Child in First Trailer for Netflix’s ‘Little Evil’


First Trailer for ‘The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One’ Movie

The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One Trailer

An intriguing trailer has launched for a new sci-fi movie series titled The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One (or, vice versa, as Science Fiction Volume One: The Osiris Child) from Australian filmmaker Shane Abbess. Described as an “adrenaline-fueled sci fi adventure”, the story takes place in the future in a time of interplanetary colonization, about a father who has to rescue a young woman amidst a global crisis. The full cast includes Kellan Lutz, Daniel MacPherson, Isabel Lucas, Luke Ford, Rachel Griffiths, Temuera Morrison, Bren Foster, Dwaine Stevenson, and Teagan Croft. As much as I was expecting this to look cheesy or too low budget, it actually looks pretty damn good, with some impressive visual effects and an interesting story. I don’t know if the movie is any good, but I’m very curious about checking this out. ›››

Continue reading First Trailer for ‘The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One’ Movie


Kelly Macdonald Joins The Child in Time with Benedict Cumberbatch

Kelly Macdonald Joins The Child in Time with Benedict Cumberbatch

Kelly Macdonald joins Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC drama The Child in Time

The BBC has released a first-look photo of Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into DarknessDoctor Strange) in the upcoming drama The Child in Time. Three new cast members have also joined, according to Variety. Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk EmpireBrave) will play “the estranged wife of Cumberbatch’s children’s author Stephen Lewis, who struggles to find purpose in life following the disappearance of his daughter two years earlier.” Stephen Campbell Moore (The Bank JobSeason of the Witch) and Saskia Reeves (AnnaA Christmas Carol) will play Lewis’ best friends.

The 90-minute, one-off TV movie is based on Ian McEwan‘s award-winning 1987 novel and will be directed by Julian Farino. It’s the first production of Cumberbatch’s SunnyMarch TV. The novel was adapted by Stephen Butchard (The Last Kingdom) and is produced by SunnyMarch TV and Pinewood Television for BBC One and co-produced by PBS’ Masterpiece.

Here is the official description for the novel The Child in Time: “The Child in Time shows us just how quickly life can change in an instant. Stephen Lewis is a successful author of children’s books. It is a routine Saturday morning and while on a trip to the supermarket, Stephen gets distracted. Within moments, his daughter is kidnapped and his life is forever changed.

From that moment, Lewis spirals into bereavement that has effects on his relationship with his wife, his psyche, and with time itself: ‘It was a wonder there could be so much movement, so much purpose, all the time. He himself had none.’”

What do you guys think of the casting for The Child in Time? Are you interested in watching? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @ComingSoonnet.

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Horrors of Child Abuse in 1960’s Never Take Sweets From a Stranger


Early Hammer Horror film Never Take Sweets From a Stranger is a dark, terrifying examination of the horrors pedophilia

Before their brand became synonymous with Gothic horror fantasies dripping with promises of Freudian sex and death, Hammer Films steadily pumped out a series of quality British melodramas, mysteries and Hitchcockian thrillers, most of them produced economically in black and white and exported internationally by major studios with little fanfare. But in circling back on these early curiosities – many of which were produced well into the early 1960s – one can find some remarkable motion pictures, many of which are bold, daring and way ahead of their time.

Among the most alarming of that lot is director Cyril Frankel’s Never Take Sweets From a Stranger (re-titled Never Take Candy From a Stranger for its U.S. release), a jet-black and shocking thriller (based on the play The Pony Trap by Roger Garis)  and a film that, despite its vintage, nevertheless packs a wallop. It’s a movie whose dismal truths about how the powerful buy silence and how children must suffer the sins of their elders tragically and endlessly. And it doesn’t go down easy.

9 year old Jean (Janina Faye, from Hammer’s Horror of Dracula) has just moved to small town in Ontario, Canada with her parents Peter (Patrick Allen) and Sally (Gwen Watford), after dear Dad accepts a prominent position as the new Principal of the local school. One day while playing with her new friend Lucille, the pair wander off to the manor of the town’s most powerful family, the Olderberrys, when Lucille confides that the old man who lives there will give them free candy. When Jean comes home that night, she rather matter-of-factly tells her parents that the skeezy Mr. Olderberry (Felix Aylmer, who is chilling) did indeed ply them with sweets in exchange for the young girls to remove their clothes and dance naked for them. Peter and Sally are horrified and, later that night when Jean wakes up screaming from a nightmare, mom and dad decide to action.

But as they soon learn, the town is rather adept at keeping its secrets safe. After relaying the tale to some prominent school officials, Peter gleans that people are aware of Mr. Olderberry’s pedophiliac leaning and there have been previous “incidents” but everyone has turned a blind eye. Peter presses charges even though he’s warned of social isolation and worse if he proceeds. When the old man’s son, Clarence Olderberry Jr. (Bill Nagy) shows up to their home and urges them to drop the charges, Peter and Sally refuse and the younger man swears to decimate the little girl on the stands in the inevitable trial. Soon little Jean is ostracized from her peers, the family is persecuted and, when the old man is revoltingly cleared of his crimes by a crooked jury, they opt to leave the dour little hamlet. But they soon learn that the outrage they’ve endured is only the catalyst to the horror to come.

To call Never Take Sweets From a Stranger a horror film may seem like stretch, but it’s really not. There are no vampires, ghouls or werewolves running around this picture, rather the threat is fear and ignorance, the monster is power and privilege and the poison at its core is one human being’s psychotic addiction to sexually abusing and murdering children. The latter element? Well, I can think of few things more horrifying. As adults, we find novel ways to mess up our lives and the lives of others. But we keep making more of us in hopes of creating better versions of ourselves, successors who will hopefully learn from us, from our triumphs and errors. It’s a universal, biological law that we are here to protect children, to nurture them and show them the beauty in the world before adulthood begins to chip away at the perception of the purity of that beauty. And when an adult ends up willingly breaking that law, it’s unforgivable.

Director Frankel would later go on the helm Hammer’s supernatural drama The Witches and that’s a strong film. This one is stronger. Frankel allows the literacy of the stage play drive the film and fleshes out the dialogue-heavy drama with many nightmarish sequences of children in jeopardy. It’s like a British “social issues” version of Night of the Hunter in some respects, with children targeted by those they are told to trust and it’s a theme that marked many of these early Hammer thrillers, movies like the equally mesmerizing (if more conventional) evil parent shocker The Snorkel. And Hammer legend and Oscar-winning DP Freddie Francis brings an almost fairy tale beauty to much of the outdoor sequences, especially the scenes of the children fleeing for their lives.

Still toiling in relative obscurity, those who have experienced Never Take Sweets From a Stranger sing of its praises and with good reason. It’s a dark, uncompromising film, serious, smart and wildly upsetting. Seek it out…

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Tracy Morgan delivers Destiny’s Child burn from Beyoncé’s womb on ‘SNL’



Tracy Morgan popped up on Saturday Night Live in the most unexpected of places: Beyoncé’s womb. 

Morgan surprised the audience during Queen Bey’s (Sasheer Zamata) ultrasound, playing one of her unborn twins alongside Keenan Thompson. 

Morgan and Thompson traded quips about what a cool mom they must have. “I think she’s important,” Morgan said. “When people meet her, they scream, so she’s either a beautiful queen or a goblin.” 

“Yo, our mama is Beyoncé, man!” the wiser Thompson explained. “Wow, I haven’t even breathed yet and I know who Beyoncé is!”  Read more…

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This heartbreaking video tells the story of two child refugees, 80 years apart



If you — like many Americans — only get your news from President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, you’ll come to believe that all Syrian refugees are terrorists.

A new video released by UNICEF challenges that obscene assertion. In it, an 80-year-old man discusses his traumatizing experience as a child refugee escaping Nazi Germany. A Syrian boy, himself a refugee, then recounts his own story. 

Their stories end with the same heartbreaking quote. 

“I am alive. I am one of the lucky ones.” 

More about Muslim Ban, Syria, Refugee Crisis, Refugees, and Nazis