How to be a set parent on a film.

Greetings from Ohio! I've been working on the admin side of my own career, rather than gigging and live-streaming, because I've got something else going on: Graham's shooting a movie. 

I'm not allowed to talk about the film itself (though I can say that his IMDb page is up to date, so you can do your own research), but I thought today I'd write something for other parents in the film industry. And also for anyone just interested in what life is like on a film set.

Rules for being a set parent:

  • You have to be on set at all times. This is for your child's safety. You are entitled to have line of sight on your child all the time, whether it's a costume change or filming a scene. Sometimes you're just watching on a monitor, and always remember to stay out of the way.

  • No siblings on set. This is the most challenging bit for us because it means I have to find childcare for the little guy.
  • No guests. Nope. Your friends can't come.
  • No phones/cameras. General rule is, put your phone on silent and don't take any photos. It's usually in your contract. However, follow the lead of the production crew -- and ask if you're not sure. Don't take photos of the talent, but it's sometimes fine to take a picture of your child in their trailer for your scrapbook. Typically there is a no social media rule and you need to follow it.
  • Bring proper ID for your child. This varies state to state but it's usually some combination of birth certificate, social security card or passport. They will need it to start work, and if they don't have it, they can't work. Don't forget it.
  • Respond to communications timely. When you're on set, you won't have your phone with you all the time. But while you're filming or on hold or the days leading up to the shoot, check your email a lot. Respond right away. The producers are juggling a lot of balls, and it's really helpful to them if you can give them answers right away. Also the call sheet usually won't come until the night before, so you may not even know what scenes are shooting when until 12 hours before you're due on set. 
  • Help your child with costume changes. From the first costume fitting to the day of shoot, help your child change. Make sure they don't rip the costumes or treat them badly (sometimes costume designers use favorite pieces from their own family). Helping them with changes makes everything go faster and saves time.
  • Make sure your kid doesn't eat in their costume. This one is tough because your child will want to snack. I let my son eat in his costume, but I'm there to make sure he doesn't each Cheetohs or something that's going to get all over the costume. The main goal here is not to stain or ruin the costume on a snack break because there is rarely a backup.
  • Don't bother the other actors. I know, I know, you're kinda starstruck, but your job is to be seen and to be available, but mostly to stay out of the way. Do not ask for a photo or an autograph. If that's an option, it would be on the last day of shoot, and you should read the room and ask permission.
  • Be kind to everyone. EVERYONE. So much goes into making a film, and everyone's job is important. Give people grace, and do unto others, etc, etc. 
  • Read the room. Subtle, but important. Pay attention. Know who does what job. 
  • Make sure your child knows their lines. Again, you may not even receive the scene until the night before, but they hired your kid to br professional. Show up prepared.
  • Keep track of working hours & days. Keep a log. Everyone will thank you if you notice a discrepancy in the paycheck.
  • Go with the flow and don't complain. Things change. Weather happens. People get sick. Don't be the problem.
  • Be seen but not heard. You need to be there for your child's safety and for union rules, but don't start demanding things. 
What have I left out? Or do you have any questions?

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  1. What a gift you are giving Graham! And he, you, as a matter of fact! Interesting insight into the “behind the scenes.” Thanks, Brigid!