You will be happy to know that food on most sets is plentiful and pretty decent. Basic food and beverages are generally available at all times at Craft Services, (fondly referred to by many as “crafty”) the little area near the back or side of a set. It is absolutely OK for you to go there and get what you and your child need to keep body and soul together. There are strict union rules about how many hours can be worked between meal breaks, and lunch is typically a one-hour affair when everybody gets to eat a proper meal and have a true break. You will not starve on set.
When your child’s day on set is finished, make sure you leave their dressing room in good shape. Hang their clothes back up in the closet for wardrobe to collect. It can be hard to leave if people are still shooting because your kid will probably want to say goodbye—but shooting often must continue! On some sets, it’s a tradition for the director or 1st AD to call out “That’s a wrap on ____________!” when an actor is finished with the job. And for a moment, everyone stops work and applauds. I like this—it acknowledges the person, and feels good to everyone.
When your time on a set is finished—whether it is a one-day job, a one-week job, or a two month job—make sure you thank everyone who made your time there a pleasant experience, and leave with as little disruption as possible. If your child was a co-star or guest star, they have entered a world that existed before them and will continue to exist after they leave. If your child was fortunate enough to bond with some of the other actors on set, leaving can feel very sad. One of the downsides of having an especially wonderful experience is wondering if you’ll ever have that feeling again when it ends.
I think just about everybody cried at the end of the Bits and Pieces pilot—the bond between the cast members and creative team felt so special, and we weren’t sure if it would go forward. When it did, we were ecstatic. When Cloud Nine wrapped there were a lot of tears. That experience was like a two-month summer camp and truly lifelong friendships were formed during that project. Sets where there are a lot of other kids near the age of yours can be particularly magical. When that magic is caught on film it shows.
I’ve seen a few kids get overly attached to the point of obsession with a set or a cast they were part of for just a short time, and it can be unhealthy. Try to help your child have realistic expectations about the relationships they form on set. Some will carry forward outside of work, but in truth, most will not. And it can be especially hard for a young guest star that falls in love with a cast and believes their character will recur, but then is never called back. Generally this has nothing to do with their performance, but with the writing direction. Some characters are really meant to only show up once. Others recur a few times in a season. Only a few guest stars go on to become heavily recurring on a given show. Remind your child of this truth, and help them look forward to the next project, instead of looking back.
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