What Parents Need to Know About the Film Industry

As a parent or guardian of a child performer, you have one of the most important roles of anyone on set. This brochure was written to help you make sure your child's performing experience is a positive one.

The "entertainment industry" means the film, radio, video or the television and radio commercials industry. Young people under 15 years of age employed as actors, including background performers and extras have special conditions established for their employment. If the young person is employed in a position different than as an actor, background performer or extra then the conditions for employment of young people, in general, apply.

Know the Rules For Your Child

In your own workplace, you probably take a lot for granted - who's in charge, how and when you get paid, when you get a meal break and when work ends for the day. In the entertainment industry, the rules may be different, but there are still rules. Take time to understand the different work rules that affect your child's workplace. These include employment standards, health and safety rules and labour relations rules. You are the one who speaks for your child, and you need to know when and where to step in if necessary. Your child looks up to you and you can provide a model of professionalism for the young actor, on or off the set.

You Are Still A Parent

On set, parents have the same responsibilities as they do anywhere, namely to be responsible to protect the health, safety, physical or emotional well-being, education or financial interests of their children.

Parent responsibilities Include:

  • Ensuring your child has your informed written consent supplied to the production, before your child works.
  • Protecting your child from any work that is likely to be hazardous.
  • Protecting your child from any work that is likely to interfere with the child's education.
  • Protecting your child from any work that is likely to be harmful to the child's health, or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.
  • Talking with your child about the role and making sure your child understands what is expected of him/her.
  • Making sure lines are learned.
  • Being there to listen and advise when your child needs counselling.
  • Providing discipline where necessary.
  • Acting as a liaison between the child and the other adults.
  • Making judgments about your child's mood and degree of tiredness.

You and Your Agent

Work closely with your child's agent if he or she has one. Be sure you read and understand any contracts before you sign. Don't hesitate to seek professional legal advice on contracts. Know the rules and the law regarding talent agencies, including:

  • Talent agents are entitled to a maximum 15 percent commission.
  • A commission can't be charged if the performer's resulting income is below the minimum wage.
  • Agents can't charge any other fee such as "registration" or "annual maintenance."
  • Agents must pay to performers any earnings owed within five days (in B.C. cheques) or 12 days (outside BC cheque) after having received the earnings from the producer(s).
  • Agents can charge a $25 photo fee annually, but it must only come from earnings.

Working With Key Production Staff

By building relationships with all the behind the scenes departments - scenery, costume, hair and makeup - and assistant directors, you will be doing much more to assist your child to work well on set.

Rules for B.C. Child Performers

The Province of British Columbia has regulations for young people working in film, television and television commercials. As well, certain "Best Practices" have been adopted by the BC entertainment industry. The following summarizes some of these regulations and best practices.

School Comes First

No matter what else happens, your child's education comes first. If your child will be missing school, you are responsible for making sure he/she does not fall behind. You'll need to work with your child's teachers to arrange for schoolwork to be done on set. If there is a set tutor, you are also ultimately responsible for making sure all assigned schoolwork gets done.

Hours of Work and Time Before Camera (Regulation)

Hours of Work*
Time Before Camera
15 Days to less than three years
Max. eight hours/day **
15 consecutive min.
Minimum break 20 min.
Three years to less than six years
Max. eight hours/day
30 consecutive min.
Minimum break 15 min.
Six years to less than 12 years
Max. eight hours/day
45 consecutive min.
Minimum break 10 min.
12 years to less than 15 years
Max. ten hours/day
60 consecutive min.
Minimum break 10 min.

*There are no split shifts.
** A day means from "call time to wrap time."

Start and Finish Times (Regulation)*

  • The earliest work can start work is 5 a.m.
  • The latest a child can work is 10 p.m. if the next day is a school day or 12:30 a.m. if the next day is not a school day.
  • If school is not in session a child can work until 2 a.m.

*Work outside these hours requires prior written approval from the Director of Employment Standards.

Hours of Work

All work time is paid time. Work begins at the young person's call time or when the young person is required to commence work, whichever is earlier. Work includes time in make-up, hairdressing, wardrobe or fitting. Work ends when the young person is out of make-up and costume and may include travel time or waiting for transport time.

Tutoring Services

If a young person is required to work three days or more, the employer should provide the services of a qualified tutor, and young actors should be tutored on set for at least three hours per day.

Payment of Wages

All time on set (including tutoring time) counts as work time. Your child is entitled to at least two hours pay on every day worked. Meal periods are not considered work for purposes of payment of wages.

Protection of Income (Regulation)

If a young person employed in the entertainment industry earns more than $2,000 on a production, the employer must remit 25 percent of any earnings over $2,000 to the Public Guardian and Trustee to hold in trust for the child.

Parents' "Do's" and "Don'ts" on the Job

Ensure your child has your written permission. Don't have your child show up at work without first having provided informed written permission.
Plan to arrive on the set 15 - 30 minutes early. Don't be late. Don't bring other children, relatives or friends to the set.
Check in with the designated person on the set, usually from the Assistant Director's department. Also, check in with the tutor if there is one. Don't ever leave your child unattended on the set.
Sign a completed copy of your child's contract, voucher or release for the job before your child begins work. (Be sure all blanks are filled in.) Call your agent if there are any problems or questions. Don't allow your child to begin work if you have not received a contract, voucher or release, and don't sign any if they differ in any way from your understanding of the terms of employment.
Stay within sight and hearing of your child on the set. It is always your right to do so, but be unobtrusive about it. Don't bother other actors, the director or crew members. Keep out of the way while watching your child on the set.
Bring at least three hours of schoolwork if your child is being tutored on the set. Be prepared to supervise your child during meal periods and non-school times. Don't interrupt the classroom or "hang out" with the teacher and your child during school time.
Ensure you arrange for a proper chaperone to supervise your child if you can't be at the site. Don't just drop off your child at work.
Speak up if you feel your child is working too long without a rest break or being asked to do something you feel he/she should not be doing. Don't be intimidated into yielding to unreasonable requests or making exceptions to the work rules governing your child's employment.
Understand exactly what earnings are due and when they will be paid. Don't allow earnings to be unpaid beyond the required time frame.
Tell your agent ahead of time if your child has special food or medication requirements, or if your child has unusual educational course work, so proper arrangements can be made, or bring the necessary items yourself, where possible.

Don't wait until the last minute to arrange for your child's special needs (e.g. food, medication or specific educational requirements).

Sign out at the end of the work day. Don't let anyone else sign out for your child.

It May Be Fun, But Acting is Still a Job

The most important thing to keep in mind is that a film or television set is a work place where everybody has a job to do and many people are working under enormous pressures within a unique chain of command. Your job is to find your place in the team and take responsibility for your child being a productive member of that team - keeping your child's well being at the forefront of your thinking.

For more information contact the Employment Standards Branch.

Other sources of information: