Sean Penn is looking for a day-old baby this weekend to shoot scenes in the film he’s directing, The Last Face. It wouldn’t be legal in California, but the film is shooting in South Africa, and apparently it is OK to employ day-olds on film productions and pay them $120 a day. An “urgent casting call” was just sent out (see below), looking for “a pregnant black woman who is about to give birth” this weekend. “We need the baby to be born around Saturday or Sunday.”
The casting call notes that “transportation can be arranged” if the baby needs a ride from the maternity ward to the shooting location in Cape Town. “We will be using the baby only,” the notice says. “Obviously, the mother is allowed on set with the baby.”
The notice said that the baby might be needed for two days of shooting, beginning July 26 — the day of, or the day after, the child’s birth. The daily pay is 1,500 South African rands, or $120.
The Last Face producer River Road Entertainment confirmed it was a casting notice for its film, starring Charlize Theron as a doctor who doing humanitarian relief work in Africa amidst violent political conflicts in the region. She meets another doctor (Javier Bardem) who is doing the same work, and the story revolves around tough moral decisions that must be made during a time of civil unrest. Adèle Exarchopoulos and Jean Reno co-star.
California’s child labor laws do not allow infants younger than 15 days old to be employed on film and TV productions, and the state places tight restrictions on the employment of babies ages 15 days to 6 months, who are not allowed to work more than 20 minutes a day “under any circumstances.”
Like 18 U.S. states, South Africa has no laws preventing newborns from being employed on movie productions. According to the South African Department of Labour, “It is a criminal offense to employ a child under the age of 15, except if you have a permit from the Department to employ children in the performing arts.”