They say Hollywood is ageist, and they're right. This year's Academy Award-nominated films are all WAY better with casts entirely made up of actors six years of age or younger. Proof:
The kids have no idea what's going on
"Every now and then you'll get a kid who knows about filming a video, they'll call out what the slate is or talk about film stuff, but they have no idea about what's going on or the movie we're talking about."
The kids don't memorize their lines
"It's mostly a process of, 'Okay, say this line,' and they'll do that line. 'Okay, say it like you're angry. Say it like you're sad. Now run around in a circle.'"
…but they're GREAT at ad-libbing
"They did a little bit of ad-lib in the Argo one. The line is 'Did people really dress like this in the 70s?' and they were just answering how they wanted to.
In another one, she's told to run around in circles (she's Mary Lincoln going crazy) and she tripped a little bit and we kept that in.
They'll say lines wrong and we'll keep that. We have the text of what they're saying at the bottom of the screen. Usually it's like they don't know the word and say it wrong and we'll keep that in there."
The filmmakers have tricks to get the right shot
"We do more single coverage [close-ups] than wide shots, it's kind of a trick because kids, at that age, have a hard time following multiple directions. Usually they'll just do the first thing you say. You're like, 'Walk into the room and say this line,' and that can even be hard for them."
…And tricks to get around the child labor laws
"We switch them out. I think there is a rule that you legally can't employ a child actor for more than six hours.
We start a shoot with four kids and then figure out who is the wildest kid, and if the next one has three kids cut we'll cut the kid seems like he doesn't want to the be there the most.
We try to do little things like that to try to make sure no one is being tortured."
The filmmakers play favorites
"Sometimes we have kids that we try to see if they are available, but they're schedules are all over the place. We use this casting agent out in Jersey called Ellen's Kids. You say, 'I need all these kids' and she sends you headshots of tons of kids and you go through and pick them."
It's helps if the kid is cute
"The younger they are, the cuter they are, so it's a tradeoff: how cute do you want them versus how good of an actor. I usually go for cute because I think that works on the Internet better."
After a couple years of hiatus, Kids Reenact might be primed for television comeback. (Check out the series archive.)
"We got pretty tired of it in the past, but we've had a nice break and I think as long as the show is fresh and deserves it [we would do new reenactments]. There are plenty of TV shows now that we haven't touched, so I could see us doing stuff like Breaking Bad or Homeland—that could be really awesome."