As a director, you may sometimes need to cast a role for a younger child, and directing a child can be quite different than directing an experienced adult. But don’t get frustrated, get Film Jams Tips on how to work with younger actors! Film Jams has the scoop on best practices for working with child actors, and with these 7 tips on how to direct child actors, it should be more fun, and more productive for the both of you!
1. Work in Short 20 Minute Increments
Children don’t perform well when they have to shoot for long periods of time, so a good rule for filming them is to work with them in 20 minute increments and then give them a 10 minute break. Make it seem less like work and more like play.
2. Collaborate with Child Actors
Collaboration with kids is great, because sometimes they have the most unique and original ideas from their perspective. Let them in on the collaborative process and you might be surprised with what they come up with in those young fresh minds!
3. Give Child Actors Something to Stand In
Due to their wiggly nature, getting kids to stand in one spot can be challenging, so giving them something to stand in can help them focus. This can be a box, pot, or a container of any sort. See what they like, and before long, they’re going to love hitting their mark!
4. Use a Familiar Toy For Eyeline
Place a child’s favorite toy above or below the lens of the camera, or next to a person they should be looking at to make it easier for them to stay consistently focused and pay attention.
5. Review the Footage with Child Actors
Children are much better at changing something if they can actually see the footage with them in it. This is also a good thing to do during their break to keep them engaged. Kids can get easily overwhelmed if you give them too much direction in front of the camera. Have them watch their scene on a playback monitor. This is a good alternative and helps them see what’s going on visually.
6. Have Lots of Healthy Snacks
Everyone knows what happens to a kid when they have too much sugar, so having healthy snacks around is a good way to give them energy without getting hyper and losing interest.
7. Give Your Child Actors Positive Reinforcement
Giving kids positive reinforcement is a great motivator and helps them stay engaged in your project. Criticizing too much can lead to fear and frustration.
Overall, just don’t forget to have fun and let child actors enjoy themselves. They may be kids, but they just want to be treated as equals and be a part of the filmmaking experience.
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The equipment we use to film:
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-Sennheiser MKE600 – https://amzn.to/2ILulBP
If you have any questions or tips on working with child actors, please reach out to us in the comments. Thanks for watching How to Direct Child Actors: 7 Tips on Film Jams!
Filmed on location at: Litewave Media in St. Petersburg, FL – Video Production Company in St. Pete, Florida.