7 Tips For Working With Chlidren

“Never work with animals or children.” ~ W.C. Fields.

In the course of production work you oftentimes don’t have a choice. We have worked with both. Children can definitely be a challenge, especially when the child isn’t a “pro,” rather just an adorable little kid. It’s frustrating at the moment but it’s understandable that they might feel out of sorts with all the people and equipment around them. It pays to keep a few things in mind.

  1. Be Patient. Take a deep breath, stay upbeat and positive. It may take some time and a lot of coaxing. Stick with it and keep smiling.
  2. Bribery. We are not above bribery. Sometimes the promise of a small reward can help motivate your talent. I know it works with adults, so why not children. Think of something little, like ice cream or a cookie.
  3. Shoot When They Don’t See You Shoot. If your storyboard or script is a bit freeform, use that to your advantage. Try to pick off shots from further away when they don’t see you. Hit the record button and walk away; turn around like you’re not paying attention. They might do that adorable thing you need without even realizing it.
  4. Shoot Fast. Get the shots as quickly as you can. You might only have their attention or willingness to participate for a limited time. It may not be perfect but go with it.
  5. And, Keep Shooting. You cannot shoot enough footage. If they are cooperating, again, use that to your advantage.
  6. Bring A Few Toys As Props. Let them play a little on set. It brings their attention to something other than the camera. It can make them feel more comfortable and you might be able to sneak a few shots, depending on what you need for the production of course.
  7. Don’t Start Right Away. Give them time to get used to all these strangers and to see adults interacting on set. It often helps with shyness and is a way to show them how fun it is being on camera. It can encourage them to want in and get some attention for themselves.

These 7 tips came out of our own recent experience. To stay in budget for the lifestyle commercial above, the marketing director enlisted an employee’s little girl to be the star. Admittedly we didn’t have much experience working with children.She arrived on set and we jumped right in. It did not start out well. She didn’t want to be separated from her mom. She wanted to hide from the camera. We struggled for a good 45 minutes, then decided, okay, let’s move on. We’ll get the other shots with the grown-ups and let her see how much fun it is. She played ball with her mom and “on camera mom”, then started to watch the action. You could see her demeanor totally change. When it was her turn, she was all smiles and giggles. By the end, she wanted the attention of the big scary camera, in fact, couldn’t get enough of it. She earned her ice cream treat that day.

She arrived on set and we jumped right in. It did not start out well. She didn’t want to be separated from her mom. She wanted to hide from the camera. We struggled for a good 45 minutes, then decided, okay, let’s move on. We’ll get the other shots with the grown-ups and let her see how much fun it is. She played ball with her mom and “on camera mom”, then started to watch the action. You could see her demeanor totally change. When it was her turn, she was all smiles and giggles. By the end, she wanted the attention of the big scary camera, in fact, couldn’t get enough of it.She earned her ice cream treat that day.

She earned her ice cream treat that day. Come to think of it, so did we.

By the way, we’ve also worked with animals. Check it out: http://rmedia.tv/portfolio/one-step-closer/