10 Ways To Create A Parent Friendly Film Set

Here are 10 things you can do to make your next production better for everyone, both in front of and behind the camera.

Jan 17 · 6 min read

1) Hire parents

Start with the obvious. Help eliminate the motherhood penalty. Skeptical that your boom op will be worried about her baby and not the audio levels? A Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis study discovered that mothers were more productive that non-parents. The ACLU just put out a nice resource on Inclusion Targets: Recruitment, Hiring, and Promotion that is full of great tips.

2) Inspire Safety

If #MeToo proved anything, it revealed that our business has a glaring HR gap. This means projects are independently responsible for developing a pipeline to address discrimination. Setting precedent for proactive safety and emergency recourse should be a top priority during pre-production. Before the cameras roll, be transparent about your production’s plans to address all potential safety issues so your project is more apt to avoid these issues completely on the day. The Warner Bros’ Safety on the Set resource maps out best practices (and also accepts anonymous safety reports if you feel unsafe on a WB production.)

3) Promote Wellness

California and many other states require a Wellness Room/Nursing/Milk Storage for mother’s on site, within an office building, no matter their status or level of employment. No matter how nice your Honey Wagons and bathroom stalls are, they likely don’t meet state health standards for a Wellness room. If you’re in CA, the newest state laws clearly state the Right to Lactation Breaks among many other pregnancy and early motherhood requirements that went into effect on January 1. Make reasonable efforts to provide your crew with a private area to pump breast milk. A “private area” means a place that is shielded from view and free from intrusion by supervisors, coworkers, and the public. The area must be in close proximity to your work area and may not be a bathroom.

4) Schedule Your Shoot Like Marvel

Plan to shoot 10 hr days. And when possible 5 days on, 2 days off. Marvel does it. NBCUniversal does it. Most of Europe does it. You may find lunch hour is a tight standing 20–30 nosh, but you can also bid your post lunch slump farewell because you move right through it with time to spare. This also ensures you will commit to realistic shot lists and a 12-hour turnaround between wrap and your next call time. As an added bonus, an early wrap gets parents home in time for dinner, as was cinematographer and mama Rachel Morrison’s experience when shooting Black Panther. And if you make your 10 hour day, parents are not totally drained for their two “days off” with the kiddos.

5) Put it in writing

Put parent amenities and accommodations in relevant contracts. Commit to an Inclusion Rider as well as MiF’s Parental Inclusion Clause (see below) to commit to making parent-friendly practices accessible to anyone on the crew or in the cast. Always be thinking of ways to involve Corporate partners in sponsoring parent resources on your set. Corporate Responsibility is the fastest way to share brand values (see: everything Patagonia does :)

6) Offer Healthy Crafty

This includes second meal. Your crew is your work family and parent or not, everyone needs energy to do their job well. Hot Cheetos are fun, but maybe also stock up on clean snack food alternatives and provide healthy meals that don’t leave folks craving a salty/sweet fix the next hour.

7) Make A Parent Friendly Info Sheet

Generate a local guide for parents that lists local playgrounds, children’s museums, beaches, restaurants, local babysitter referrals and food delivery options as well as local transportation. Do your parents a solid and gather a list of upcoming local family friendly events for off days. If kids are allowed to visit set — an experience many may find lightens the set vibe - disclose the timing for these visits in prep to cast/crew.

8) Keep Walky-Talk Clean

Set standards for communication expectations from the beginning. This includes how you expect your team to communicate on walkies. And lead by example.

9) Have a spontaneous Dance Party

This never fails.

10) Provide childcare!

The number one resource parents in film ask for is childcare support. A recent MiF survey polled that 77% of parents working in the entertainment industry have had to turn down work due to a lack of childcare. Out of that same group of parents 96% of parents said they would utilize it .While childcare has been a political issue in the U.S. for sometime, Hollywood has been addressing care for staffers on the lot since the late eighties. But many in the industry — including actress Carey Mulligan — believe on set childcare should be an industry standard.

Your first time offering a childcare accommodation on set might not be as comprehensive as renting Moms-in-Film’s forthcoming Wee Wagon, but whatever shape it takes offering a childcare resource to all cast and crew is a real game changer. If 100% childcare coverage isn’t within your budget, consider offering a childcare stipend up to 50% of the standard hourly rate. If you ensure 50–100% of the value of childcare, MiF invites you to sign our Parental Inclusion Clause.

There is always the option to hire a nanny and rally the babies nearby. Remember to schedule some nanny relief though if you’re going to DIY the hiring. We suggest bringing in a special guest to read stories or sing songs or a puppet show on a lunch break if parents care to join.

Whatever your approach, MiF suggests you treat childcare like another component of production, address it early, especially if you’re shooting on location.

If you’ve found any of this information far beyond your current production practices, great! If you have questions or comments, feel free to reach out to info@momsinfilm.org. Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to Moms-in-Film to contract childcare via a tax-deductible donation for the value of the childcare services available to your project. Films shooting in multiple LA local locations may work with Collab&Play and Moms-in-FIlm to secure local childcare resources in proximity to production.

*Moms-in-Film’s Parental Inclusion Clause states that a production will offer a 50–100% subsidy for the cost of child care to all members of the cast and crew, both above & below the line. This subsidy may be in the form of individual stipends and/or direct implementation of on-site child care. While the clause is voluntary, it aims to prove that parent-friendly practices lend themselves to more inclusive hiring practices on productions. After adoption of the PI clause, failure to meet the terms will result in a donation-based fee to be paid on behalf of the production to the nonprofit organization Moms-in-Film. The Parental Inclusion Clause is a part of Moms-in-Films ongoing campaign to lobby for state-wide tax breaks for film and television projects that adopt childcare as a component of production starting in the state of California. The more the PI Clause is used, the more backing MiF will ask from policy makers in the form of tax-incentivize parental inclusion accommodations and universal childcare.


Written by

Moms-in-Film is a nonprofit that provides parents in the film and television industry with community, funding and advocacy.

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