Babies Movie: Does It Violate Child Labor Laws?

Suzanne Murray
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"Babies," an adorable and heartwarming documentary about the commonalities of parenting around the world, hits theaters today.

Most of the babies who "star" in the film aren't from the U.S., but one of them is from California, a state with strict child labor laws.

According to California law, infants need a doctor's note and legal permits before they can be filmed. They're only allowed on camera for 20 minutes a day. They must be accompanied by both a nurse and studio teacher — both paid for by the producers. The babies also need to be at least 15 days old.

The law applies to any kind of film featuring children in the state, including documentaries.

But Amandine Billot, the film's producer, told the AP that the filmmakers didn't have to worry about the law since they cast the film's four international stars while they were still in the womb and filmed them unobtrusively in their natural environments.

In fact, Hattie's dad initially had reservations about the presence of cameras so he filmed some of his daughter's scenes himself. "We didn't want the shooting to interfere with our lives," he says in the film's production notes. "We wanted Hattie to be able to just be a baby."

"California's child labor laws only apply to employees, and Hattie was never our employee in that way," Billot says. "Just as filmmakers who produce nature films seek to blend in with their environment, we set out to create a wildlife film of human babies by being as unobtrusive as possible. In short, we quietly observed and recorded the babies' activities."

Violators of California's child labor law could be subject to fines ranging from $50 to $5,000 per violation, and could be precluded from getting a permit to film in the state in the future.

 

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