totally random question about young child actors in horror/scary movies....

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Posted 10/4/2012 by GiaRenee in NSBR Board


PeaNut 508,737
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Posted: 10/4/2012 1:02:40 PM
What do you think parents do to prepare a kid for this? I always kinda wondered that and thought "omg, how could you put such a young kid in this movie??"

The reason I am asking is that I did a shoot last night (not a professional one, just a "youtube channel" comedy/improv group) that involved zombies. I thought it would be super fun to be one

I had no idea what the script was about and didn't know it involved kids. So after our makeup was done, the kids arrived, so they didn't see us "before".

Poor things, they were scared. they looked like this (minus the tears)

The moms of the kids did *nothing*. Us "zombies" were the ones doing all the work to make them less afraid.

I felt bad for them, but i'm really great with kids so it didn't take too long for them to warm up, at least a little. (one of the other girls works with special needs kids so she was really great with them as well)

I was thinking, wow, this is NOTHING compared to "professional" sets. And we didn't even come near the kids. the scene was only about them screaming and running down the street after seeing us (they are trick or treating).

how in the WORLD do these kids do on real sets? i mean, especially those where the actual "boogeyman" is attacking them or holding onto them and they are trying to get away? eep, i would think that even when they know they are "acting" that it still affects them?

The common sense thing to me is that if they do extensive non-dress rehearsals, that they are already completely comfortable, so when the actual dress rehearsal happens, it's not a big deal at all? i still think even being a very young kid, it still could affect you? that makeup can look so "real" and grotesque to a child. or maybe they just have the child observe the "boogeyman" being made up so they can grasp it? idk..i'm just thinking out loud

sorry for rambling...


PeaNut 123,540
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Posted: 10/4/2012 1:36:37 PM
I think some parents are so overly invested in having their child in movies (or substitute modeling, dance, karate, whatever) that they ignore what is really good for the child.


PeaNut 544,018
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Posted: 10/4/2012 1:54:40 PM
I have no idea. I would think that for Hollywood movies, they would do as much of the filming of scary things away from the children (ie: zombie runs down the street, supposedly chasing children, but no children in view...then cut to scene with children running down the street, but with no zombies in view.)

Or maybe they green screen most of it.

I honestly don't know how any parent would let really young children do any violent/scary scenes in movies.

I don't know. I think I'm just old fashioned. I don't like children acting in movies that children aren't even supposed to be watching.


PeaNut 508,737
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Posted: 10/4/2012 2:03:08 PM
SonjaW - i agree!

Lola - I was thinking the same thing, that most of the scenes shot would not be with them actually there, but, like i said, where they are actually interacting with them, etc. It would seem to me even with "knowing" the actors, it would still seem scary for them?

i mean, i'm the zombie and i just felt so bad for the kids, lol. i let one of them "scare me" and i was running away all frightened, that was cute. he kept walking up to me "scaring" me. he got a kick out of it.


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PeaNut 52,817
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Posted: 10/4/2012 2:15:53 PM
I can't speak for the kind of video you're talking about, but for "real" movies, just like sex scenes are not very sexy at all when being filmed, scary scenes aren't either. It's sooooo different from what you end up seeing on the screen, between special effects, music, camera tricks, lighting, the presence of an entire cast and crew... and so on. I doubt there is any real fear by the kids on the set.

That said, what you saw sounds entirely different and like it would be scary for a kid. Linda Blair filming The Exorcist? I doubt it was.


PeaNut 508,737
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Posted: 10/4/2012 2:45:56 PM
That does make sense. i remember seeing a documentary on the making of "Halloween" and they showed the difference between the scenes *with* the music and *without*.

yeah, i mean, imagine a kid going to someone's house and walking onto a patio and there are grown ups all zombied out. as in..NORMAL clothes with scary, grotesque, faces. it would be a little different if we had obvious "costumes" on, but being just normally dressed (although a little raggedy haha) and looking like dead mangled people is another story....


PeaNut 40,147
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Posted: 10/4/2012 2:51:11 PM
I've wondered about similar things with children and movies or tv. Like when there's a lot of cursing and smoking. I've seen actors smoking on screen while holding babies. I wouldn't be comfortable with that as a parent.


PeaNut 18,334
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Posted: 10/4/2012 3:11:15 PM
On a real movie set the kids parts are generally shot as stand alone portions. The kids aren't seeing all of the other actors, costumes, etc.

And in the times they must be shot with others in costume they have had a chance to get to know the actor before seeing him/her in costume. The parents and the directors take the time to talk to them about what to expect.

In your instance both the parents and the film director failed the kids. I suspect he was going for real fear because he couldn't count on the kids being able to act fearful otherwise. Even kid actors are expected to be able to act, not just be cute.


PeaNut 498,237
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Posted: 10/4/2012 3:29:24 PM
I think the parents did exactly what they needed to do in that situation. Had the parents tried to "force" the kids around you, people would have been barking about that. They knew that you needed to interact with the kids for the kids to relax about it.

It was a couple of years ago one of mine had to play a tired, hungry traveler. He did such a good job that someone gave me an earful after the play for keeping him up past a normal bedtime. (Play week they stay in their pgs until it is nearly time for makeup) As she was doing her thing, he came flying out from backstage (where he had been dancing) and some adult was chasing him (some crew member probably had him in on a backstage prank)and laughing. There was nothing tired about that little body. He still had a good 2 hours in him.

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PeaNut 51,751
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Posted: 10/4/2012 4:32:37 PM
Eh, I guess I'm one of "those" parents...

This is my younger daughter's voice:

Field of Screams

She recorded it when she was eight. AND I let her watch it (the trailer) when it came out.

Would I let her actually go through that haunted house...? Uh, no. And she's recorded characters (mostly scared, kidnapped little girls) in quite a few video games that are too mature for her to play.

Voiceover is quite different than on-camera, of course, but as the parent of a child performer, you just need to have some personal boundaries, and stay within them. And mine, I'm sure, will be different than the next parent's...


PeaNut 19,198
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Posted: 10/4/2012 5:39:54 PM
kryssy, your daughter's voice is truly creepy - and I mean that in a good way! Voiceovers aren't the same as being on a set, so I'm sure she wasn't scared doing it. Totally cool that she does that stuff.

As for the movies, I thought I saw an interview w/Linda Blair once that where she said she wasn't scared. I can't remember what her reason was, but she remembers it being more fun, if not a little bizarre, than scary. Can't remember exactly what she said. The memory fades . . .


PeaNut 19,198
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Posted: 10/4/2012 5:41:24 PM
What about the kid from the Shining? It had to be more than a little scary having to scream 'REDRUM! REDRUM! REDRUM!' huh?


PeaNut 380,346
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Posted: 10/4/2012 5:53:32 PM
Interesting question. I remember the concerns about the movies Bastard Out of Carolina and Hounddog, both of which have some pretty intense scene with young actresses.

At the time there were a bunch of articles published that talked about the special precautions taken to ensure the child actors' welfare - here's one of them.

It might be that everyone is more concerned about these really intense scenes and not so much with the average cursing/violence/smoking/whatever, but I'd like to think that the parent, teachers or child welfare people on set watch out for all of the children.


PeaNut 508,737
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Posted: 10/4/2012 6:13:15 PM
I will have to look at those links when I get home

kryssy, I think VoiceOver work is totally different as far as it being traumatizing. That's totally cool she's doing that!

I was thinking more of the "visual, haunting, gory " type of things they would see.

This was just a novice comedy group just starting out so I doubt they are really trained with what to do as far as kids are concerned. Judging from the webisodes I have seen, they focus more on satire and "grown up" pop culture. This was just a fun Halloween episode and the kids only had one scene.

It just looked like the parents could care less. And I wasn't saying they should "force" anything. I just meant they could have at least said *something* to ease their little minds.

At any rate, it was all good. and I had a ton of fun being silly.
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PeaNut 379,678
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Posted: 10/4/2012 6:50:12 PM
Some kids are fine with it. I've had many, many students over the years who LOVE scary stuff and totally get that it's all pretend. I have a kindergartener who told me just today that she got the movie Cujo for her birthday. She told me the whole plot! She LOVES it. Not a parenting choice I would make, but apparently she has high school-aged sisters and thinks it's funny. (She's one of my sweetest, most well-behaved and adjusted kids, so go figure).


PeaNut 312,303
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Posted: 10/4/2012 7:02:41 PM
Danny Lloyd, the child in the 1980 Shining movie wasn't aware he was shooting a horror film. Stanley Kubrick told him it was a drama and carefully shot certain scenes away from his presence. I'm not sure if all directors are that careful with the kids. I know Heather O'Rourke being only 5 yrs old saw lots of creepy effects during filming Poltegeist and the only thing reportedly that scared her was being harnessed up in front of a wind machine.
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