Never work with children or animals

They say that the first rule of filmmaking is 'Never work with children or animals'.

This is obviously ridiculous. Surely, the first rule of filmmaking is 'Don't forget to take off the lens cap'.

If you've hired a trained juvenile dolphin to be your camera assistant, and the lens cap does get left on through the entire shoot, you could always blame it on the fact that you were working with a child animal.

Also, if you are going to train an animal to work with something as delicate as a film camera, perhaps a dolphin isn't the best choice, no matter how intelligent they are supposed to be. Try an animal with opposable thumbs instead. Like a stump-tailed macaque, for example. I don't want to show off, but I did study film at university, and this is the kind of advice that will save you hours, especially if you are thinking about hiring a bunch of invertebrates, no matter how cheap or enthusiastic they may be. 

I digress. The second (or is it third?) rule of filmmaking, is 'Don't be afraid to break the rules!' - (Although you should still think carefully about the lens cap rule). And yesterday, as we filmed a pilot in Stockholm, that's what we did! We broke the rules and worked with a child. A one year old child. And by GOD working with children is difficult! And this was with a sweet, mild-mannered little boy who basically had to pretend to be himself. That's it.  

I remember once, I watched a feature length French arthouse film, which had a 4 year old child in main role. The film, Ponette, dealt with actual difficult issues such as life and death. And they worked with this kid for a whole feature film. We were doing a 15 second sequence which involved putting on a woolly hat .... And we were exhausted by the end.

When we moved outside for shots involving a buggy, we were able to use a doll which was much easier. Although when you film outside, in January, in Sweden, you should never forget the seventh rule of filmmaking - 'Don't forget your thermal underwear' 

If that juvenile dolphin we'd hired hadn't been there to help out, I don't know how we'd have got through the day. 

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