Jennifer Latch works as a consultant for parents with children in the modeling and acting industry. She has worked as a professional “stage mom” for 8 years with her three children. She conducts seminars for parents on how to make the whole activity relaxed and fun. You can read her first and key post on this subject HERE.
WORK PERMITS AND STUDIO TEACHERS
For your child to work in the entertainment industry they will need what is called a work permit. This is an official document issued by the state to allow your child employment and authorize them to miss school. You will need to bring the work permit to every job.
To obtain a work permit in California is pretty simple. You can even apply online. Go to this link and follow the instructions. Other states have different forms and regulations so you should check with your agent on the procedure. The permit expires every 6 months.
You will need to meet with the key school official to get them to sign the work permit application every 6 months to verify that your child is doing ok with school and not missing too many days.
One thing to know is that while you are on set for jobs there will be what is called a studio teacher. For the younger (non-school aged children) the studio teacher has various roles. They will help you as the parent to let you know what is happening and what to expect. They will stay on set with your child to ensure that all the child labor laws are being enforced and they will at times tell your child what to do and where to go. The studio teacher is the one to tell if you child will need a nap soon, a snack soon, has an aversion to stuffed alligators or what have you. The studio teacher wants your child to do well and have fun and will let the crew know about anything that may help to make that happen.
For school aged children the studio teacher will additionally help with school work. I would usually just bring the girls homework packet, but we have also worked with their school teachers on some jobs to get some extra work to bring.
The role of the studio teacher is not minor and they are usually some of the nicest people you will ever meet. The studio teacher should be one of your first people you check in with on set. They will ask for your work permit, sign the back and tell you where to settle in. They are a key asset for you when you are on set for the overall health, safety and sanity of your children. It is important to follow their instructions, be polite to them and do what they say.
Some things you should know about studio teachers:
- They are usually incredibly good with children.
- They are NOT BABYSITTERS. Do not leave your kid unattended or ask them to watch your child while you run to the car, etc.
- They have worked on a lot of sets and likely know the peculiarities of the crew, director or photographer that day. Listen to their directions.
- Do not forget your work permit. Keep a copy of it somewhere else and you could even send a copy to your agent to keep on file. If for whatever reason you forget it, it would be good to have someone to call who could fax it to you. I even have kept a photo of it in my phone, but really you need to have the original for the studio teacher to sign.
- Do not expect them to be able to get you access to the photos or footage from the shoot.
- Do not talk to them (or anyone else on set) about the rate of pay for the shoot. That should have been fully worked out with your agent ahead of time.
- You will likely be spending most of your time with them while you are on a job and will see them on future jobs. Be nice.
Things to keep in mind on permit applications:
- When my daughter entered Kindergarten I talked to the principal of the school and let her know about the need to sign the work permit and that I as well held her education as the top priority. I have never had a problem with the principal signing the document since.
- For babies, you can get a work permit as soon as 2 weeks old. You will need a doctor’s authorization that the baby is healthy however. After one month old you no longer need a doctor’s signature.
- Your permit will be denied if you do not have the form filled out properly and the proper signatures, etc.
- There are real live people who review and issue every permit. I have gotten to know our permit issuer and have even gone down to the San Francisco office. Good manners is KEY. This has resulted in the issuer rushing my permit and calling me as soon as it was ready for pick up.
- Keep extra copies of the application form around.
- Keep your permit in a plastic file to keep it safe and undamaged. You will need a copy of it when you reapply for your next one.
If you show up to a set and there is no studio teacher, call your agent. If anything happens on set that you cannot easily resolve or questions about how much you are being paid or if anything seems weird, call your agent. The agent is the one you contact to work out those types of problems.