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The Truth About Casting

June 13, 2018

Know the facts so you can make wise career choices
As a parent in the business, part of your job is to understand the business in order to make wise choices for your child. This task can be challenging when the web and the entertainment industry itself is filled with misguided and inaccurate information. Here are some facts and rules you should know when it comes to casting notices and audition opportunities.

Fact: Not all casting websites do their homework: While there are a variety of websites out there boasting audition opportunities, Children In Film encourages you to proceed with caution. Many sites are designed for actors of all ages and therefore, they do not necessarily focus their efforts on researching the auditions and/or upholding the rules and laws pertaining to minors.  Some websites (IMDB for example) don’t even validate audition notices.  They are self populated to the site by the poster.  Do your homework: research these websites and make sure they post legitimized and law abiding castings. Then, discuss these sites with your agent and manager, and make sure membership on these sites successfully fits within your budget. It is definitely not necessary to sign up for an abundance of sites – one or two will do the trick and that is only if your agent or manager has encouraged self-submissions. Finally, this is super important: remember that if you do not yet have representation you should be focusing your time on finding representation rather than self-submissions.  Casting notices that are available to the general public are mostly low-budget and no-budget projects.  Casting Directors traditionally look to Talent Agents/Managers to find talent that has been pre-screened.

Rule: Auditions should not to be held during school hours:  According to SAG-AFTRA rules (Section 50(f)(7)), “Interviews and fittings for children who are attending school shall be held outside of school hours. Such interviews and fittings shall be held no later than 9 pm However, auditions are not technically considered employment – and therefore not regulated by CA law.  Thankfully SAG-AFTRA has set auditioning standards for children who audition for union jobs and most producers and casting directors follow suit on non-union projects. 

Many casting directors will schedule home-schooled children earlier in the day because home-schooled kids typically have a more flexible school schedule. But remember, once you book, it is then considered employment and regulated by law. Under California law, homeschoolers are treated with the same standards as those who attend a brick and mortal school.   

Rule: Working children should be paid at least minimum wage:  If you are surfing casting websites, you have probably seen this phrase many times: “Copy, Credit & Meals provided” or “Stipend provided”.  While it might be possible to participate in a non-paid project for a short period of time, California limits the amount of time a parent can volunteer their child for work. 

California labor code §1310 allows children to work without pay, permits or welfare workers;
  • In any church, public or religious school, community or charity entertainment, for which no admission fee is charged.
  • In any radio or television broadcasting exhibition, where the minor receives no compensation (directly or indirectly) and where the engagement is limited to a single appearance lasting not more than one hour and no admission fee is charged.
  • Any one event during a calendar year occurring on a day on which school attendance is not required or on the day preceding such a day, lasting four hours or less, where a parent or guardian of the minor is present and for which the minor does not directly or indirectly receive compensation.
Unless production fits within the above guidelines, all the rules apply.  This includes payment of AT LEAST minimum wage, funding of CA Coogan accounts, workers compensation insurance coverage, entertainment work permits and provisions for the use of Studio Teacher/Welfare Workers.

Note for Parents: please know that you will face a variety of situations where the above rules and laws are not taken in to consideration, especially if you do not live or work in California as these laws pertain specifically to California productions. Know that these rules are in places for a reason and that it is up to you to understand your rights under the law before proceeding with any casting opportunity. That said, Children In Film pre-approves every casting notice released on ChildrenInFilm.com in accordance with the rules and laws of California. Rest assured that you are in good hands when you respond to casting opportunities through CIF.