Winter 2008

Major Safety for Minors

The issue of action, when it comes to a minor performer (under 18), is a tricky situation. While some minors have been training at sports since they were little and love the action, others don’t feel as comfortable.

Child background actors should never be allowed to do stunt work, but other child actors may if the proper guidelines are followed.

Prior to rehearsal or shooting, the production company is responsible for evaluating the minor to make sure the child is capable of the proposed action. What is the child’s age, size and maturity level? How physically fit and coordinated is he or she? Producers also should look into all other factors that might make the situation more difficult, such as wardrobe, props, diminished vision, set pieces and cameras that might be in the way.  These elements should be adjusted for the safest outcome. Finally, the minor must be given enough time to adequately rehearse the action, or if the minor is not comfortable performing the stunt, a stunt double should be requested.

Once the minor’s abilities and the action have been evaluated, the director or first A.D., should speak with the minor, the minor’s parent/legal guardian and studio teacher to review and discuss the activity. In addition, the production company must obtain the written consent of the parent or legal guardian for medical care in case of an emergency and written consent to allow the minor to perform stunts and hazardous activity.

During the rehearsals and shooting, the first A.D., stunt coordinator, studio teacher, parent/legal guardian and medic should be present. If any aspect of the action changes, a new discussion should take place and a new rehearsal should
be considered.

If at any time during the process the minor, or any of the aforementioned people, does not feel the action is safe, they can request additional safety equipment, and/or request a re-evaluation of the activity in its entirety. Remember, minors don’t always speak up, so the adults involved must pay close attention and speak up if the minor expresses apprehension. That goes for other basic safety considerations, too, including SAG requirements related to work hours, separate changing areas and studio teacher oversight.