When you're making a film you're going to need every bit of help you can get. In some cases, that means finding actors with a particular specialty, age range, or skill with animals. If your film requires the use of animals or child actors, there are strict rules that must be adhered to, and more than a few inherent problems to be acutely aware of. There are also very few films made these days without the use of extras, which translates to more time, money, and, most assuredly, top-notch organization. Fortunately, there are now many casting agencies and animal actor resources for you to research.
Working with Minors
We've all seen child actors on the silver screen, and we know how powerful their performances can be, whether it's Shirley Temple in
Inherent to the problem of hiring child actors is that children are protected under child labor laws that greatly limit the amount of hours they're allowed to work. These rules vary according to state but must be strictly adhered to. In many cases, they also include rules regarding a child's education. Another thing you have to consider when casting a child is the content of your film. If your film contains controversial elements, everyone involved in representing the child actor — especially the parent — should be clear on what the child is expected to do. Youngsters who have experience will often be more receptive to direction as opposed to those who lack screen time.
Many a director's patience has been tried when filming animals for a motion picture. Not only do the animals have short attention spans, but they're often unpredictable. Even Lassie had her moments. Animals require supervision in the form of a trainer or animal wrangler. All kinds of domestic and exotic animals are hired for motion pictures and are trained to perform under all types of circumstances.
If you've got a few animal roles to cast and your German shepherd is giving you the brushoff, you can contact an agency that specifically represents animals. The Hollywood Animals Animal Actors Agency (
Several films have used a staggering number of extras for various scenes. When filming
Be careful when you enlist the help of volunteers. Not everyone takes your production as seriously as you do. On shooting day, the extras you lined up may decide they have better things to do and leave you with costly delays and scheduling nightmares.
If you're on a small budget, then you'll probably need all the help you can get in the form of family, friends, relatives, your mail carrier, and your mother's entire bridge club. And that's okay as long as you're clear about what you require — for example, how long your extras will be standing under a blazing sun, or sitting in a stadium, or escaping a torrential downpour. It's also nice if you can at least offer your extras lunch or even provide monetary compensation.
Big-budget films often make use of local sources, especially when filming internationally. Military personnel, students, and all types of groups have been employed as extras. In director Mel Gibson's 1995 film