Articles, Blog

Where babies in movies come from

There’s a pretty awesome scene in The Fate
of the Furious where Jason Statham fights a bunch of armed
mercenaries on an airplane while holding an adorable baby in a carrier. I’ve always wondered how babies end up in
situations like this. What kind of hoops do you have to jump through
to cast babies in Hollywood? You were gonna shoot a baby? You sick bastard. Besides babysitting, delivering newspapers,
and, uh, wreath making, show business is the only industry that can
legally employ children under the age of 14 In fact, they’ve been in movies almost since
the birth of cinema. I hate myself so much. Casting a baby isn’t as simple as casting
a grown up actor though, For one: they don’t have to get their shift
at Starbucks covered to go to an audition, but mostly because there are some special
rules producers have to follow when casting an infant. For example, in California, babies can only
be on set for two consecutive hours per day, with actual work not exceeding 20 minutes
“under any circumstances.” The state’s child labor laws also require
that babies be at least 15 days old to be eligible for
a work permit. Which is good news for babies who can
just chill during their literal first days on earth, but not so good for productions that have
scenes with newborns because the thing is, if you’ve ever seen
a baby that’s two weeks old, you know that they don’t exactly look like
a newborn anymore. In order to get past this hurdle, productions
often try to cast preemies, who look newborn even when they’re the required
minimum of 15 days old, and in a lot of places outside of California
that’s perfectly legal. In 16 states there are actually zero regulations
regarding minimum age for baby employment in films and many other states have laws that are pretty
lax. In New Jersey for example a month-old baby
can work five hours a day, five days a week and in Louisiana they can be employed six
hours a day, six days a week. That’s more hours than I worked when I
bagged groceries after I graduated college and no I DO NOT want to talk about it. Most states also do nothing to protect the
money that babies make. Only a few places follow the Coogan Law, which requires that child actors be set up
with a blocked trust account to protect their earnings. The law is named after Jackie Coogan, an early 20th century child actor who was
in a number of Charlie Chaplin films including the American classic The Kid. As a child actor he reportedly earned as much
as $4 million, but his parents squandered all his money
by the time he became an adult. Because of his s***ty parents, moms and dads
in these states are required to set aside 15 persent of their
minor’s income in a Coogan account, which the child can access at the age of 18. Shooting with babies can be complicated,
but the film industry has a way of working around it. I would say 90 to 95 percent of jobs for babies
and toddlers are exclusive to twins and triplets because two babies can play one character. So there’s two advantages there. Number one you can have them both come to
set at the same time. So if Twin A gets fussy they can call in Twin
B and they can use the babies back and forth. And the other thing is sometimes production
will split their call times so they’ll have one baby come in let’s say
at 9:00 in the morning have another baby come in at 2:00 in the afternoon. And so it extends their day. Also half of all twins and almost all triplets
are born premature, so productions get more working hours and
they look newborn. Sean Penn had a different solution. He directed a movie that nobody saw called
The Last Face where they put out a casting call for a one
day old baby. Since they were shooting in South Africa,
where you can cast minors with the permission of the Department of Labour, it was totally legal. Babies in show biz probably rake in big bucks
right? Unfortunately… not. Babies obviously can’t talk, so they are usually classified as an “under
5”, a term that refers to an actor with less than
five lines. It’s interesting because you can have a baby
who is a recurring character on a TV show and has a name that the public can relate
to. But a lot of those babies are only getting
paid between 200 and 300 dollars a day. So babies don’t really make a ton of money. And casting them sounds like kind of a nightmare
— are there any other options? Cut to American Sniper: Not all of them are as fake as this one, but plenty of productions resort to using
fake babies, at least for part of the shoot. Hey! Tend to my daughter please, right now! It is quite common that you know they’ll
use fake babies for the far away scenes and then you know they’ll
hire a baby when they need a close up shot or a
face shot. And there are robot babies out there that
look pretty convincing. And by convincing I mean terrifying. I never thought I’d use a Mandy Moore clip
in one of my videos but here we go: They have this one robotic baby. It’s weird guys. I have two very emotional scenes where I’m
talking to a newborn in the hospital and I go to put my hand on the robotic baby and it’s like vibrating and like making
these weird movements. Babies on screen aren’t going away anytime
soon. So until producers find a cheap and easy CGI
fix for the baby dilemma, it looks like they’ll continue to have to
work within the regulations that are set up. Or they’ll use demonic robot infants who will
take over humanity.


  1. John Smith Author

    200-300 dollars a day for under 6 hours while i get paid 120 dollars a day for 12 hours of hard labor. Thanks for making me feel bad

  2. The Pamplemoussian Author

    For an adult, $200-300 a day might not be much, but if you were a kid who found out they had $1,200 right after they learned what money was, you'd probably be pretty happy.

  3. Erin Ward Author

    I don’t even make 200-300 a week (I work at a grocery store) and they make it a day just for 20 minutes if they time! That sounds like a lot to me

  4. Sarah Madison Author

    Babies make a lot more in commercials and promos. At 6 months old, my child was cast as double or "back-up baby" for a commercial series, got his own trailer, was never used, and made a $1000/day. In this instance, they needed a bald baby who could perform certain tasks on command, and they were unable to find twins who fit the bill.
    The actual audition and casting process with infants is pretty fascinating, but this video doesn't really seem to cover that, despite the title…

  5. Lucy phamtomhive Author

    man im a triplet but my parents never did this we were born early two plus my sister didnt get hair until she was two so we would have been good

  6. Syno Nymous Author

    Here the twist: Coogans parents got divorced, mom got involved with her sons manager. Dad took care of the money untul he died in a car crash Jackie Coogan was the sole survivor of a few months before he was legally an adult. His mom and her boyfriend the manager then took care of the money. Jackie sued after not recieving his money after months. Mom and ex-manager had gambled most of it away within a year, while dad took care of the money and didn't touch it for 15 years. Coogans dad gets a bad rap.

    Btw Jackie Coogan is also the addams familys butler. Really suprised me.


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