When your child is just beginning their acting career, you will be advised by other people in the industry to submit your child yourself on casting websites such as Actor’s Access, LA Casting (aka Casting Networks), Casting Frontier and Now Casting. Please be very selective and cautious when submitting on your own. Some things to watch out for are:
1. The director, producer or casting director will promise that your child will receive an IMDB (Internet Movie Database) credit. This means that when/if they get the project listed on IMDB, your child will be included in the cast list. Here’s what you need to know about IMDB. This website is owned by Amazon. Anyone can join the website and anyone can submit information to be added to the site. IMDB has pretty specific requirements for a project to be added to the website. One of the basic requirements is that the film have either a public screening or be accepted into a reputable film festival. There is no way for a filmmaker, producer, director or casting director to guarantee either of those things BEFORE they even film the project, so the promise that they make to you is wishful thinking on their part. Do not accept a role in a project solely based on a promise that they can’t guarantee. For more specific IMDB criteria, click here.
2. The casting notice will mention that there will NOT be a Studio Teacher on set because:
a) It is a weekend
b) It is after school hours
c) It is a school holiday
d) It is the summer
e) You, the parent, will be there
f) They don’t have to
g) They don’t have the money to pay for one
h) It’s just background work
NONE of these excuses are reasons for not following the CA Child Labor Laws. A Studio Teacher is required, by law, any time a minor is on set. Weekdays, weekends, principal actors, background actors, summer, non-school days, PSA’s (public service announcements), student films, voiceovers, print jobs, and even wardrobe fittings.
If your child does not have an agent or manager or if you accept a job on your own, the first thing you should verify is that there WILL be a Studio Teacher on the job. It is okay to turn down a job. Why would you want your child on set without someone there who is specifically responsible for your child’s education, safety and welfare? No job is more important than your child’s education, safety and welfare and if an employer is willingly breaking the law and you go along with it, then you are also liable if something were to happen on set.
It is very easy for you to check whether or not a Studio Teacher is licensed by the State. Ask to see their license. It is a small green card that they carry in their wallet (also known as a “green card”). Or ask for their name (it might also be in the call sheet) and enter it on this website:
3. The project mentions nudity or violence, but specifies that the minor will not be in those scenes. As a manager, I always ask to read the FULL script before accepting any roles for my clients, small or large. I would never want my clients to watch the project years later and be embarrassed about being in it. Graphic violence, nudity and strong language should be considered carefully – after all, it’s not about just one job, it’s about your child’s reputation and long-term career. My advice is to never accept any role in any project without reading the full script. If you have any question about the safety or welfare of your child on set, you can call the DLSE (Dept. of Labor) at (818) 901-5484 and ask for the legal department or if you feel that a child labor violation has been committed, you can call the Labor Commissioner, Rick Mejia, at (818) 908-6690.
Violations by Parents, Guardians, Companies [Labor Code 1308]
- any person is guilty of a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) and not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), imprisonment for not exceeding six months, or both, who as a parent, relative, guardian, employer, or otherwise having the care, custody, or control of any minor under the age of sixteen years, exhibits, uses, or employs, or in any manner or under any pretense, sells, apprentices, gives away, lets out, or disposes of the minor to any person, under any name, title, or pretense for, or who causes, procures, or encourages the minor to engage in any of the following:
- any business, exhibition, or vocation, injurious to the health or dangerous to the life and limb of minor
- any obscene, indecent, or immoral purpose, exhibition, or practice whatsoever
- any person who willfully violates this section shall, upon conviction, be subject to a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or to imprisonment in the country jail for not more than six months, or both. No person shall be imprisoned under this section, except for an offense committed after the conviction of that person for a prior offense under this article.
- parents or guardians (in addition to employers, agents, managers, etc.) who permit a minor to be employed unlawfully in the entertainment industry (which includes any violation of state regulations governing minors in the entertainment industry) are liable for any civil and criminal penalties that arise from the violation [Labor Code 1308.5]