The hair and makeup artists are likely the next people you will meet. The star of a show or movie typically has their own dedicated hair and makeup artists, and the rest of the actors generally share the services of several more artists. You will be taken to either their trailer or room to have hair and makeup done before shooting. Again, as in the case of wardrobe, it’s not actually important that your kid love the way they are being “done”—what matters is that the look supports the character and storyline. So trust that these hardworking, talented professionals know what they are doing, and encourage your child to leave their ego at home.
If you are lucky, you might both learn a few tricks from these guys. Many of them are gifted communicators since they are essentially in the people business. And they work so intimately with their actors that close relationships often form if enough time goes by. Dove is deeply attached to the people who do her hair and makeup on Liv and Maddie and we love them like family. One more aspect of their job: watching the filming for continuity issues with hair and makeup. Was the hair over the left shoulder in the last take, or pushed behind the ear? Encourage your kid to be mindful of that aspect of the job, and try not to change the way their hair is falling, or adjust their makeup while on set!
Once you and your child are taken to set by either the PA or the 2nd AD, you will meet the 1st AD (First Assistant Director) who operates as mission control on the set. The 1st AD is the liaison between the director and everyone else, and they also are charged with designing the complex shoot schedule, translating a script into minute-by-minute blocks of time where the story is shot out of sequence, but in the most efficient means possible, taking into account many elements including locations, actors schedules, (including shorter work hours for kids) and camera setups.
The director is likely to be in their chair in front of a monitor, wearing a headset, and talking to several people at once. This is the person charged with the final result of the episode or movie, and the buck truly stops with them in terms of anything on set. Whether a scene moves on after three takes or sixteen is up to them. The best directors are gifted at communicating to their actors what they are looking for in terms of performance, and still allow the space for a little improvisation to happen. But ironically, a fair amount of control and structure is necessary for the sense of safety that an actor needs to take those chances that can make magic on screen. And it is the director who creates that sense of safety or lack thereof by the way they run a set.
Where are you in all of this? If your child is in their dressing room, then you are there too, maybe helping run lines if they need it. If they are in “school,” i.e. with the set teacher, you have a little break, but you must stay nearby. If they are on set, you are legally required by state law as well as by SAG to be within earshot or sight of them. This is for everyone’s best interest, but especially your kid’s. It’s a safety and liability issue. This also means that you can’t drop your kid off on set, go to work yourself, and pick them up at the end of the day.
A parent or guardian MUST be on set with their child. Most sets are more than used to dealing with parents, even if you are new to being on set, however! There will be an area for you to sit and watch the work—usually at one of the “video villages.” A video village is the area of chairs set up in front of the various camera monitors where the people whose job it is to watch the filming can do so.
Typically there are two villages—one for the director and producers, and another for the hair/ makeup/ wardrobe/ props/ set dressers. The editors frequently have a small one tucked away in a corner as well. You can likely sit in either one, as long as you do not sit in front of someone whose job it is to watch! You may see other parents of child actors here too, and hopefully they will make you feel welcome. But remember to be utterly silent when filming is happening, and do not be that parent whose cell phone goes off and ruins a take.
It can be tempting to sit around and talk all day with other parents, (between takes of course) and to some extent this can be useful. I’ve learned a lot by asking questions of people whose kids have been in the business much longer than mine, and saved us some grief with what I’ve learned. But it’s easy for this kind of sharing to devolve into gossip, and ultimately that’s a toxic activity.
Next: Set Etiquette and the Set Experience: Part 4
My book, The Hollywood Parents Guide, available on Amazon contains everything I wish I’d known when Dove and I started this journey, and will save you untold amounts of time, money, and stress. Full of information you MUST know, it also features stories from parents of other kids who’ve made it!
Or book an hour consulting with me to come up with an individualized plan that takes your own unique needs into account. For about the cost of an hour with a professional acting coach, you can get your questions answered and a road map to help you move forward toward your dream.
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