Over the last few weeks, I have been working as the production assistant on ‘TRIGGA’, which is a Creative England and BFI Network supported short film that follows a young girl who confronts the bullies with the help of her horse.
W. C. Fields’ once famously said, ‘Don’t work with children or animals’. Well this film features both and one of my responsibilities has been to arrange licenses for the actors under 16. It has not been without its challenges, but I have learned a lot from the process, so I thought I would share a few tips with you.
Firstly, all actors under 16 need a license to be featured in a film, regardless of whether it is a short or a feature. This is for a number of reasons including; to ensure that the young performer isn’t missing excessive amounts of school time, as well as to protect the child.
The process of sorting out licenses takes time. Make sure you start your application for child actors early on in the pre-production process. The latest you should get applications to a local authority by is around 21 days before the shoot.
There are two types of licenses available: a standard license and an exemption license. It is best to check with your local authority to see which one is applicable for your shoot.
You will need to gather together quite a lot of information about each performer, including:
- The school they attend
- Their date of birth
- Information about any previous performances
- Information about previous payment received from performing
- Details of any allergies or medical conditions
- A photocopy of the performers birth certificate (or passport)
- A headshot of the performer
This information is obviously private and confidential, so you must ensure that you safeguard this information. You can use encryption software if you need to send this via email and always ensure that you delete this information once the production is over.
Put all of this information in a separate PDF file for each performer (I would recommend Adobe Acrobat because it allows you to create reduced-size PDFs which are much easier to send).
Make sure that you send the files to the correct authority.
Prior to this shoot, I didn’t have any experience dealing with licenses for young actors and at first it seemed daunting. The process takes time, but it is relatively straightforward once you know what you are doing.
The shoot begins next week, but until then here’s a look at the crowdfunding video the team produced.