Frequently asked questions


On just about any day in summer - and sometimes it seems on just about every beach or street corner - you're likely to see those kombis and trailers and lights and orange bollards that mean that some of filming is taking place.  

On-location filming is a critical part of any production, and locations are something that Cape Town has a lot of. In fact, the Western Cape presents almost unlimited opportunities for filming, with widely diverse geographical and architectural locations within a short distance of the international airport. We have skyscrapers and quaint English cottages, industrial plants, ultra modern condos, and areas of startling physical beauty. We also have a diverse population; our faces look like we could come from just about anywhere.

This abundance of variety is supported by an excellent supporting infrastructure. Our production industry is characterized by

  • Internationally  renowned Production Companies providing exceptional services and facilitation
  • first-class crew with access to top-of-the-range equipment,
  • a "first world" infrastructure of internet connectivity, cell phone coverage, and efficient roads and air links,
  • cosmopolitan English-speaking talent managed by experienced modeling, actor and character agencies,
  • creative post production services including photo labs

Additionally we have the weather – the sun is shining for fourteen hours a day in the Cape in the middle of the European winter. This means that European commercial and catalogue shoots can create their summer campaigns here and have them “on the shelves” in time for the European summer. It’s a win-win situation. 

This fortunate situation has resulted in Cape Town and South Africa being one of the world’s most popular and successful destinations for Stills Photographic shoots. As an example in 2006 there were over 11100 shoot days in Cape Town, on more than 1100 international photographic productions. Stills Production contributed over half a billion Rand to the Cape economy, more than half of it in the Tourism sector.


What is Stills or Commercial Production?
“Production” is a term that encompasses a broad range of services offered to international photographers, television commercial companies and advertising agencies when they conduct shoots on location. Producers coordinate the equipment hire, hotel bookings, car hire, selection and management of models and crew, the management of permits, visas, carnets and other relevant documentation, as well as the day-to-day production requirements of each shoot.

Where does the photographic / commercial material get used?
The images that are produced in these shoots are used for a wide range of entertainment media purposes, including advertising campaigns,  billboards, catalogues, internet websites, product sales brochures (such as car brochures), fashion shoots and point-of-sale promotions as well as electronic media such as TV commercials.

How do Producers find their clients?
At risk of over-simplifying operations, the typical process in servicing productions is as follows: producers travel overseas to source clients and promote Cape Town and South Africa as a location for shoots. Once the potential client has been persuaded of the value of Cape Town as a location, the client will request quotes from a number of different companies for the job.

What does the Production Company do?
The Production Company that successfully wins the competitive bid then begins arranging all of the auxiliary requirements to ensure the production goes ahead successfully and within the budget they have quoted to the client. 

So why do Photographers and Advertising Agencies choose to do these shoots in South Africa?
They love South Africa because of the tremendous opportunities it presents for shooting on location. As well as hugely diverse landscapes and architecture (in close proximity), superb weather and excellent light, talent from an incredibly cosmopolitan ethnic mix, and top-of-the-range equipment, labs, and production and post-production facilities.  

Having said that, Clients ALWAYS quote around the world and are ALWAYS on the look-out for the next big location, which is why we have to be continually vigilant about costs and performance.

What are kinds of Stills Shoots can I expect to work on?
The Stills Photographic industry is made up of a number of different sub-sectors, based on the way the end product – the photograph – will actually be used. These include:

Catalogue shoots are used to photograph models wearing the clothes for sale through the in-house publications of clothing companies.  These days, catalogues are printed in hard copy and distributed via traditional mailings, and also available online at the company’s website. Catalogues shoots therefore have one usage already built into the day fee and therefore are slightly better paid than other jobs.

The central element of any advertising shoot is that someone somewhere will be using the resulting pictures to help sell a product or service. Advertising shoots are therefore closely tied in to the product.

Photo library is basically royalty free images. The model gets paid a day rate but no usage (royalty) fees. The photographer is commissioned to shoot various images for a photo bank (for example: Getty, Image Source). The photograph is then put into the photo bank or photo library for use by various clients. An example of who may use such a picture from an image bank is a magazine editor who has perhaps been doing an article on family health and wants a picture of a happy family walking on the beach. The editor pays the image bank to use the picture in the magazine article. The model does not get royalties for this, as it is royalty free imaging. The bottom line is that photo library can be used for anything. Generally the pictures are used with magazine articles and brochures and below the line type advertising. Many photographs never even get used at all. The photographs are all of a “lifestyle” nature such as family shots, friends having fun.

Editorial Shoots are the bonus opportunities of the Stills Production sector. Editorial is the use of a picture in an illustrative or journalistic manner in a book, magazine, encyclopaedia or other printed literature not intended for promotional or advertising use. Because it really is just illustrative, it is used once, it is not tied to a product and will not be sold on for use as photo library images. It is a great way to grow experience and gain recognition in the industry. You can usually get copies of editorial pictures much more easily than any other images.

What is a Day Rate?
A day rate or day fee is what your child will receive just for turning up on the day and performing in front of the camera.

What is a Usage Fee?
A usage fee is usually paid to talent featured (fully recognizable) when the images are published or in the final edit of the commercial. As each client has a different budget usage fees are not always standard.  Some are low and some are wonderful. The usage fee is based on a percentage of the day fee, but that percentage varies according to the ways an image is used as well as the territories it is used in. Advertising campaigns (stills and commercials) usually have the highest usage fees. What’s more, the usage fee changes according to the number of territories in which a picture is used. And finally, the duration of the usage period can also affect the final percentage being charged. Some children may be cast in lead roles & some in supporting roles, and some as background “extras” where usage fees are not applicable. 


Is drama training necessary?
Formal dramatic training is generally unnecessary for Child Models, and most kids successfully enter the field without it. Child Models should possess a passion for performing and enjoy entertaining others.  Versatility and a wide range of related performance skills, such as dancing, rollerblading, cycling and horse-riding are especially useful.

Should my child do a modeling course?
Clients prefer spontaneity. Especially for photographic shoots they prefer the children to behave in a natural manner in front of the camera and not to pose. Doing a modeling course does not turn one into a model.


  • Child Models are often required to work in South Africa’s busy Production sector.

  • Some children may be cast in supporting roles. Others work as background “extras.” 

  • Stills Production assignments typically are short term—starting from just half a day —which means that Child Models rarely work a lot.

  • Television productions generally require your child to be on set for a full day rather than a half day.

  • When performing, Child Models typically work irregular hours.  You will have no choice on when the shoot takes place and must be ready for anything. Evening and weekend work is a regular part of a Child Model’s life. Child Models—especially those who shoot on location— may work in the early morning or late evening hours to shoot night scenes outside of normal business hours.

  • Child Models should ideally be fit and healthy – the job demands certain stamina and also coordination to move about the set. Child Models must also expect some degree of heat from lights and the weight of costumes.

  • Formal dramatic training is generally is unnecessary for Child Models, and most kids successfully enter the field without it. Child Models should possess a passion for performing and enjoy entertaining others. Most aspiring Child Models participate in school plays, or perform with local community theater groups.

  • Physical appearance, such as possessing the right size, weight, or features, is a deciding factor in being selected for particular roles.

  • All Child Models should be represented by a professional Agent to find work, negotiate contracts, and plan their careers. Agents earn a percentage of the pay specified in a contract. 


Long hours, early mornings? It hardly seems worth the hassle at times. But here are a few of the reasons why being part of a Shoot can really benefit your child.

Children who work in the Stills Industry learn attributes such as

  • Self-confidence
  • Responsibility
  • Time Management
  • Courtesy and Manners
  • Patience
  • The value of money
  • The value of work
  • The ability to interact with grown-ups
  • Self-reliance
  • A greater knowledge and understanding of foreigners and their cultures.
  • The message behind “If at first you don’t succeed….”

These are not overt lessons. But the experiences gained by working in the industry can provide invaluable life skills for any child.


The Industry is all about commitment. It has unpredictable part-time schedules, exceptionally long hours, city-wide work bases, and high international standards. If you’re thinking that this is industry is just play-play, then you’re in for a rude awakening. Whilst every Shoot aims to run smoothly and enjoyably for all the participants, it is still WORK. Here are some of the personal attributes you are going to need if you want your child to be a success.

  • Presentation                               

Although this is a creative sector, it is still a business sector. If your child is not presentable, with clean hair, nails and clothing, then you won’t get in the front door. And whilst we’re all for diversity, remember that the majority of clients are from a strict business background. Therefore their first impressions of your child do count. Unless the brief says otherwise, your child should be neatly dressed and wearing shoes to the casting session!!! (you may laugh, but we’ve seen all sorts) Short nails, trimmed hair, clean face and hands.

  • Communication

The language of communication on a shoot is English. This is the language that will be used by all foreign clients. If English is not your child’s first language please make sure that he / she becomes familiar enough with the language to be able to take direction from the Photographer / Director.

  • Self Motivation

If you can bounce out of bed at three in the morning and keep going till ten in the evening then you are right for the industry. Although there are strict limits on how many hours a child works, a typical film day starts early and continues late, and you could be called at any time. If you have energy and enthusiasm, then this industry needs you…

  • Good Manners

A photographic shoot can be a place of high emotion and tight deadlines. Often you will be in the wrong place and have to deal with the anger / frustration that is directed at other people.  Your ability to not take things personally and deal with issues on practical level could make all the difference – not just for the success of the particular shoot, but whether you ever work again.  

  • Integrity

Sometimes you will be privy to information that has not been released to the general public.  It will be expected of you to keep information confidential until the company has released the footage.

  • Self-sacrifice

If you can’t put aside your personal needs for the duration of a shoot, then you won’t suit the industry. The industry wants to employ people who are enthusiastic learners, people who are willing to go the extra mile, and people who work hard. Your child’s other hobbies, kid’s parties, sports practices and visits to Grandma unfortunately often have to fall by the wayside.  


Good casting is vital for every shoot. Ensuring that the most suitable models or actors are cast requires exhaustive knowledge of the available talent in Cape Town, combined with the creative ability to imagine how the right model can bring a character to life. 

OK, first things first; the Cash. CAMA has worked long and hard to create a standard rate card for Child Models. Having said that however, as mentioned above, each job is quoted for separately and the client will not always have the optimum amount available. There are always hard calls to be made about which roles can be cut, which usage fees can be trimmed etc. So make sure you are clear about the fees before your child casts.

Many producers perform their own castings in-house. Casting Directors organize and facilitate the casting of models for all the roles in a TV shoot. This involves working closely with the Client, Director and the Producer to understand their requirements, and suggesting ideal artists for each role, as well as arranging and conducting auditions. 
In order to select the cast for the above mentioned jobs, the production company will conduct a number of casting exercises.

The production company will request packages of photographs from all of the agencies with which they work. Agency packages are current photographs of each child with up-to-date measurements and other distinguishing features (ie no front teeth.) The production company will usually go through the packages and will pre-select children that they believe fit the brief. Those children will be invited to the casting within a specific timeslot.

The casting is the laborious and boring process of seeing every child that has been pre-selected. The casting director, (often accompanied by agency producers and the photographer for photographic jobs), will meet each child individually or in small groups, in order to see who stands out. For TV castings the child is put on tape to be viewed by the client. Casting for kids only take place during school hours if it is entirely unavoidable and it is extremely rare that this happens.
PLEASE always keep up-to-date with your child’s height, clothing and shoe sizes – the more accurate the better. Outdated photos will not even be submitted for consideration, so if you haven’t heard from your agent for a while…kids with updated photo’s have been given preference. Remember, all of the clothes for international clothing shoots are brought in from overseas and there’s no chance to swop if your child has suddenly grown a few inches. Make sure you liaise often with your agent about this and provide updated height measurements within 24 hours of being requested. Your child will be left out of presentation packages if the height measurement is not updated on request.

In order to assist, PLEASE keep on file (and update with your Agent whenever necessary) the following information:



A word about Casting Etiquette. Casting is work, it is part of the Child Model’s job, and it requires discipline, patience and endless good humour.
If you can’t commit to casting properly, then you shouldn’t be in the business. It’s as simple as that.

Here are a few tips to make the process go smoothly.

  • Only attend the casting at the given time unless prior arrangements have been made BY YOUR AGENT with the production office / casting director.

  • When you get to a casting fill in your name and agency contact details on the casting sheet and take a number. And settle down to wait.
  • Unless it’s specifically requested in the brief, do not take anything with you that makes a noise; that includes cellphones, electronic games, musical instruments and dogs.

  • Only one parent or adult is to accompany a child to the casting.
  • Don’t take along children who are not involved in the casting session.
  • PLEASE inform the Production Company at the casting if your child is unavailable on the shooting dates. If you don’t then you have committed to the fact that your child is available.

  • Once you’ve been to a casting, PLEASE try not to cut your child’s hair or change his / her hair colour. Always let your agent know if anything changes (eg. front teeth falling out!)


Once the casting is complete, the Production Company, the Client and / or the Photographer start making their selections for their preferred cast. This is when they start placing “options” and this is how an “option” will affect you.

If your child has been successful at a casting, it is very likely that he/she will be placed on a shortlist for the Cast. Please note that on photographic shoots the average stills shoot last ten days, and your child is likely to be needed only for one day but the option is placed for all the dates.
A commercial shoot is generally shorter but, again, the option is placed for all the shoot dates. So the production company then goes through the time-consuming and bothersome process of ensuring that the right people are all available on the day they require. If you’re doing a family scene with Moms and Dads, this is even more complicated, since Adult Actors and Models invariably have other bookings or other requests for bookings.

To prevent confusion, all good Agencies will issue Options on shortlisted children for THE DURATION OF THE SHOOT.

A first option ensures that the Client is guaranteed the option on the model. If your child is confirmed on the booking then he / she MUST do the booking. If a booking is turned down due to illness the production company are entitled to request a doctor’s certificate.

Weather Days are a unique South African compromise that takes into account the notoriously changeable Cape Town weather. The following applies to photographic shoots. Your Agent will tell you that you need to make a “weather call” to the production manager at a specific time before you leave home for the shoot. This serves the following purposes:

  • The Production Manager knows you are on the way.
  • The Production Manager has the opportunity to notify you of any possible time or location change due to adverse weather conditions.


Here are a few absolutes. Make sure your child:

  • Goes to bed early the night before
  • Arrives with clean hair and face.
  • Has brushed hair  
  • Is wearing underwear - preferably neutral colours, boys to have underpants.
  • Is wearing shoes - even if it is slip slops.

The fact that we’re even having to say this is an indication of how frequently this doesn’t happen…… we often find that for early calls in particular, kids are hauled out of bed early to avoid traffic and put in the car with a pillow and blanket, still in pj's, and underwear and shoes are forgotten.
Also parents often fail to take into account the weather changes that so often happen in Cape Town.

So: why not be prepared and pack a kit before hand. We recommend that this includes the following essentials:

  • A jersey / cardigan / jacket
  • A water bottle
  • Sun block
  • Sun hat
  • A book to read
  • Spare underwear
  • Slipslops
  • a comb
  • any special dietary requirements


And while we’re on the subject, here’s what NOT to bring on a Shoot -

Once again, a Shoot is a place of business. It is entirely inappropriate to turn it into a day out for the family. Too, too, too often, children are accompanied by extended friends and family and this won’t be accepted this year. Production companies have even hinted that they will begin charging for additional bums-on-seats at the lunch table. Basically, if you’re not invited, don’t turn up.  If the location is a long drive of course a companion can accompany you for safety reasons, but they must not interfere with the shoot, and should bring their own refreshments.


Food & Refreshments
Many production companies provide lunch on set; for children this must be nutritious food and drinks appropriate to the age of the child. Sweets and fizzy drinks are not appropriate. Please do not allow your child to have any high sugar foods / fizzy cool drinks on a shoot.

Weather Calls
If a shoot is cancelled due to bad weather AFTER the child has arrived on set, then a 70% cancellation fee will apply. If the shoot is cancelled due to bad weather BEFORE arriving on set, then no fee is payable, provided the child is rebooked for another day on the same job. If the child is not booked by the client again for any reason, then a 100% cancellation fee will apply. If, however, the child is unavailable again for any reason of his/her own, no cancellation fee is applicable.

Production Companies have a two hour "window" for weather calls. In case of a full day shoot, the production company may attempt to start the shoot in the afternoon. In this case, another two hour weather call may apply, on consultation with the agency.

Getting Pictures from the Production
This is easier said than done, since most of the images return to the home base of the international client and are not kept in South Africa.
Having said that, if you are really keen to get copies of the picture, please contact your agent and ask them to follow up with the production company.

However, stock images are not available to agencies or parents at any time. These images are for sale only and photographers are not permitted to hand them out, even if the child does feature in them.



Money may be the root of all evil, but it is also the reason why many kids work. The extra pocket money can really help. However, here are a few things you should be aware of when your child is earning money on set.

Payment for Shoots can take what seems like an interminably long time to be received. Generally, the process works as follows.

  • On the day following your performance, your agent will send the production company an invoice.
  • The production company accountant will collate all invoices for the job but will only finalize a payment request to the client at the end of the production period. Remember, each job can last ten days or more.

  • The production company then presents the full invoice to the client for payment, usually at month-end.
  • 30 to 60 days from month-end of invoicing the client pays the production company and the production company pays your agent after this.
    So we generally only receive payment 60 to 90 days from month-end after the job.


Agents are tireless, hard-working, caring people, but even they have to live. And the way they survive is by charging commission on the jobs that they book you on. In South Africa this has generally been limited at 20% of the bill. This is completely standard practice – after all, without your agent you wouldn’t be put forward for any work. And agents don’t earn any money if they don’t get you work. Every casting that an agent works on costs them money without any guarantee of them getting a booking.

Children working in the Industry have been determined by SARS to be obliged to pay tax. That means, if they work, they will be treated as an employee and paid under the Pay As You Earn Scheme (PAYE). This means that they are taxed on the gross total income OF EACH AND EVERY JOB.  The client/production company is deemed the employer and will issue you with the IRP5s at the end of the tax year. Agents include the ID number & postal address of every model on the invoice, some production companies post the IRP5’s directly to the models, sometimes to the agents, so agents have little knowledge who hasn’t received their IRP5’s.  Closer to the deadline for sending returns if you have not received IRP5’s it is your responsibility to contact your agent so they are able to provide you with contact numbers & help you retrieve them, if your address has changed since the job date…check your past postal address!

A tax year runs from March 1st to the following last day of February. SARS will send you a Tax Return form if they are aware that tax may be due.
If you do not receive a Return and you have additional tax to pay because enough tax has not been deducted under PAYE, the onus is on you to tell SARS. Penalties apply for non-compliance.

On your Tax Return you need to include full details of all your sources of income and investment income together with a claim for any allowances due and a calculation of your tax. You will not usually need to send accounts and supporting documents with your Return. You must, however, keep all records relevant to your Return for 2 years from the end of the tax year.


Please click here to read the Sectoral Determination of Children in Performing Arts

Since ALL of your income now has PAYE deducted by the employer, and since you’ve kept good records detailing your valid expenses, you may actually be due tax refunds at the end of the year. Again, visit the SAASP website to see how it works. 

We hope that this information helps you to have a better understanding of how our industry works.