All children need encouragement and recognition and to know they are loved and accepted.
Performing demands focus, determination and hard work. Working on set involves long hours and sometimes difficult working conditions. Because of these things, it is important children and their parents/guardians pursue this career path for the right reasons.
Many children become performers because, from an early age, they are outgoing, confident and want to perform. Under the watchful eye of a responsible, caring parent, these children can have a rewarding experience working in film, television, digital media or commercials.
Click on the links below to be taken to the relevant section of this page:
ACTRA Toronto’s Child Advocate
ACTRA Toronto Stage Parent webinars
The Stage Parent Survival Guide
Four Simple Points for Parents to Remember
Tips for Parents and Children on set
Ask Tabby and Tova!
Children’s Property Rights in Ontario
Resources for Parents
ACTRA Toronto’s Child Advocate
Angelica Alejandro is ACTRA Toronto’s Advocate for Child Performers, as well as a working performer herself. Contact Angelica at 416-928-2278, ext. 6605 or by E-mail.
ACTRA Toronto Stage Parents Survival Seminar
ACTRA Toronto and Holland Bloorview Parent Session
The Stage Parent Survival Guide
First published in 2002, The Stage Parent Survival Guide by Robyne Baruchel is an invaluable resource for parents and guardians of school-aged children working in the Canadian film and TV industry.
The Guide spells out all of the rules negotiated and enforced by ACTRA to protect and support underage performers.
Click on the image to the left to view the Guide or download a PDF version, or stop by the ACTRA Toronto office to pick up your own copy. Either way, you’ll be glad you did.
Four Simple Points for Parents to Remember:
As a parent of a child working in film, television and commercials, you want to fully understand your child’s rights and working conditions under ACTRA agreements. Remember to ask questions. A legitimate talent agent will help guide most business decisions and, as always, ACTRA is here to help you.
ACTRA agreements set minimum terms and working conditions for ACTRA members, including minors. ACTRA members are free to negotiate above these minimums but cannot negotiate below them. Ask your child’s agent which ACTRA agreement applies to the production in which your child is working. Copies agreements can be found on both the ACTRA Toronto and ACTRA National websites. You’ll have lots of time on set to read the agreement, but make sure to familiarize yourself with the relevant minors’ section before arriving on set.
Regulations in the Independent Production Agreement (IPA) and National Commercial Agreement (NCA) protect child performers. The government has also worked with the industry to set up the Child Performers Guideline to protect child performers as well as the Protecting Child Performers Act.
ACTRA Business Representatives and On-Set Liaison Officers (OSLOs) visit sets often and rely on you to inform them if these terms and conditions have been breached. You are the front-line of defense to protect your child and ACTRA is only a phone call away.
You, or a chaperone appointed by you, must accompany your child to set if they are under the age of 16. A parent/guardian or chaperone must be at the studio or accessible to the child at all times when the child is on set and must go with the child to and from the set or location. Stay with your child.
You are the best judge of your child’s capabilities. If a production makes a special request that you are uncomfortable with, or if you believe your child’s health or welfare is being threatened, speak up on behalf of your child. Call your child’s agent. Call ACTRA Toronto (416-928-2278).
When it comes to protecting children – there are no stupid questions. Call ACTRA if you believe your child may be in physical danger or is being worked overtime.
Parents’ Frequently Asked Questions:
Under the Independent Production Agreement (IPA), which covers film, television and digital media work, children under the age of 12 may only work eight (8) hours plus one (1) hour for lunch. Under the National Commercial Agreement, the same applies to children aged 15 and under. Exceptions are made for children aged 12 to 15 under certain circumstances.
Time spent under hot lights varies according to age. Please check the agreement under which your child is working for more details.
Minimum fees are outlined in the various ACTRA agreements. Never let your child work without a signed contract in place. With the completion of a contracted role, payments will flow either to you or your child’s agent. Income tax is not generally deducted at source.
The agent’s commission is based on gross fees. Other deductions will include contributions to the insurance and retirement plan with AFBS, ACTRA member dues, and the ACTRA PRS Minors’ Trust.
Under ACTRA agreements, a portion of the income of performers who have not reached the age of 18 is set aside for their use once they reach legal majority. You can learn more about the amounts and procedures of the Minor’s Trust through the ACTRA Performers’ Rights Society (PRS) website.
Your child’s agent will provide you with the time, place and other details about the audition (such as the name(s) of the project, director, producer and casting director as well as the ad agency (if it’s a commercial audition). Keep a work diary to record this information; this will become very important should your child be booked.
Take special note of shoot dates and inform your agent immediately of any scheduling conflict. Otherwise your child will be expected to be available on the shoot dates.
Auditions must be held a reasonable length of time after school hours. Always arrive 10-to-15 minutes early and make sure you’ve read the breakdowns and scripts that your agent has provided. If you’re attending a commercial audition, remember to complete the ACTRA sign-in sheets.
If your child is going to miss at least two (2) school days in a given week or five (5) days over the course of the whole production or television episode, the IPA (film, TV, animation and digital media) requires productions to provide a qualified on-set tutor for your child. You will be responsible for coordinating work assignments between the school and set. Production is obliged to provide the curriculum outlined by your child’s principal. Please contact the ACTRA Toronto Children’s Advocate for more information.
AFBS is responsible for the administration of insurance and retirement benefits. Please direct any questions about your child’s insurance and retirement benefits to firstname.lastname@example.org. AFBS can also be reached at 416-967-6600 or toll-free at 1-800-387-8897.
Tips for Parents and Children on set
Work on a film, television, radio, digital media program or a commercial is work, so please encourage your child to take it seriously.
- Help your child understand the nature of their role and follow instructions if needed. Although a child’s mood can be unpredictable, as an attending parent or chaperone, it’s your responsibility to ensure your child cooperates with any reasonable request. Always keep in mind that your child has been hired to perform as instructed, provided these instructions don’t violate ACTRA agreements and are not uncomfortable for either you or your child.
- If your child is asked to do something that feels wrong, trust your instincts. You have a right to say ‘no,’ or call ACTRA Toronto.
- If your child has a potential emotional or physical reaction, such as fear of heights, which may affect his or her performance, or an allergy, always tell the producers at the time of booking. ACTRA agreements contain clauses that protect minors from performing subject matter of a psychologically damaging nature.
- It’s your right and responsibility to be near where your child is working and to have contact with them between takes. Don’t leave, even if production staff say “stay clear” on a tight set.
- Make sure your child is well rested and prepared to do their best work. Producers rely on you to honestly tell them how your child is feeling and whether this may jeopardize the next day’s shooting schedule. If your child is old enough to be asked to work overtime (ages 12 to 15) but they are overtired – just say no! Note: Under the IPA, Minors aged 12-17 must be provided a minimum 12-hour rest period between the end of one workday and the beginning of the next workday or the start time of tutoring (if the Minor is scheduled to attend tutoring that is provided by the Producer the next day). Minors under 12 years of age must be provided a minimum 12-hour rest period between the time the Minor arrives at home and the time the Minor leaves for the set for the next Call or the start time of tutoring (if the Minor is scheduled to attend tutoring provided by the Producer the next day).
- The set is not a social club or childcare centre. Siblings, friends and relatives should not be invited to come to set to watch your child perform. Obtain clearances long before the production date if you must bring another individual with you.
- Make sure you know exactly when and where your child should report for work and note this in your diary.
- Make sure you know what you’re expected to provide for your child on the shoot, such as clothing and toys.
- There may be a lot of waiting time on set, so bring books, quiet games and other material to occupy younger children.
- Although you may be told the shoot may take less time than the maximum allowed time for children stated in ACTRA agreements, you should be prepared to stay until the contracted and allowable time limit for your child is reached. Productions frequently take longer than anticipated, so book babysitters and other activities accordingly.
- Ask if transportation is provided. If it is, make sure you know when and where to get the bus or van. Leave yourself lots of time to get there and remember to account for travel time when booking babysitters.
Here’s a one-pager you can print out with Tips for Parents!
Ask Tabby & Tova!
Together, they are Tabby & Tova! A fountain of knowledge and a great resource for child performers and their parents.
Below, you’ll find some of their answers to frequently asked questions from parents of children who work as performers. Or click on the video link below and get the full Tabby & Tova experience.
Learn more about Bill 17, Ontario’s Protecting Child Performers Act. The law includes protections for minors working in the live and the recorded entertainment industries.
Important Info for Parents and/or Guardians
If you’re a parent and/or guardian of a child performer in Ontario, here’s some information you need to know.
CHILDREN HAVE PROPERTY RIGHTS IN ONTARIO.
As a parent and/or guardian who receives money or property on behalf of a minor in Ontario, you may have specific obligations under the law. It’s your responsibility to know and understand these obligations and to act in accordance with the law.
While ACTRA Toronto cannot provide you with legal advice, here are some starting points for learning about your obligations:
Guardianship of Property of Minor Children Brochure
Please note the disclaimer: This brochure is not intended as a substitute for legal advice from your lawyer. It has been prepared to assist parents, caregivers of children and members of the legal profession. This brochure describes guardianship of property of minor children in Ontario only; each province of Canada has its own laws about children’s property.
If you have further questions after reviewing the brochure, you may wish to contact: The Office of the Children’s Lawyer
The Office of the Children’s Lawyer is a law office in the Ministry of the Attorney General, which delivers programs in the administration of justice on behalf of children under the age of 18 with respect to their personal and property rights.