18-to-look-younger and other age-related dilemmas in casting

American society has an interest in looking young and staying young and the Entertainment industry actually promotes this idea. But not necessarily just because of culture, it is because the industry has unique applications of labor laws that affect film and television shoots.

The biggest case of this is a term in the industry called “18-to-look-younger” (abbreviated: 18tly). This is when a production uses someone who is at least 18 years old to portray someone younger; sometimes this is known as a “Disney Kid,” since Disney live productions have a habit of doing this. Usually, this is for scenes where productions need high school kids and using an 18-year-old serves a few benefits:

As an 18-year-old, they are a legal adult and therefore, you don’t need the clearance of an adult’s permission.

An adult can work longer hours, including overtime. Minors are not permitted to work overtime. This is useful in a production that may normally shoot 12 hours.

And adults, if non-union, can be paid less than a child so it is cheaper for production. Usually, a child on set is paid similarly to a union actor. This also discourages constant uses of minors on set unless it is necessary for production.

Many productions do have shows and movies set in high school so for many actors, their interest in staying and looking young is not so much about social pressure to stay young (it plays a part in it, though), as it is to land more work. So occasionally, I see the awkward moment when someone who is 36 trying to get away with insisting that they are young enough to look like they are in high school.

Then comes the other question that people ask about age when it comes to age-specific casting: “Isn’t it age discrimination to not use someone who is 40 to play a high school student?”

The answer is “yes.” If a person is 40 and actually looks like a high school student, you cannot use age to bar him from work. That is actually illegal as age-discrimination.

However, if someone looked like Christopher Walken and wanted to be a high school student in a movie, casting can say that he does not look the part because it is not a realistic look or it is not what production is looking for. His appearance would be a condition of work, not the age.

This is a rule of thumb for any casting in a production: Whenever they mention “age,” they mean “apparent age” not “actual age.”

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The most useful tool in the entertainment industry

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Introduction to Access Showbiz

Welcome to our blog!

Jeff, Suren, and I started Access Showbiz when we were dealing with a lot of questions about the entertainment industry but also realized that there were a lot of scams and misinformation out there about how the industry works.

We decided that the best way to address all that is to make a series and a blog so that people get the right information in their hands. Among all three of us, we have a LOT of experience we are willing to share with people.

Sometime soon, we are going to upload intro videos about ourselves so you have a better idea of where we are coming from when we give advice. All of us work in different facets of the entertainment industry: Jeff gives his knowledge that comes from casting, Suren approaches the entertainment industry from the business side and I do some casting as well as independent productions. However collectively, we have both breadth and depth of information. And whatever we don’t know, we have access to the people that do, including producers, directors, assistant directors and others that we would like to bring to you.

Feel free to bookmark, subscribe or spread the word around about Access Showbiz. Looking forward to presenting you more things to come!

~Ryan Omega
Access Showbiz

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The basics of the SAG-AFTRA merger

Jeff Olan from Jeff Olan Casting, on behalf of Access Showbiz, answers all the basic information questions about the recent SAG-AFTRA actors’ union merger that is going to affect acting and the entertainment industry to come.

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