Where do babies come from… in movies?

Where do babies come from… in movies?

If you’ve ever seen a movie or television show where someone gives birth, you’ll notice one of two things happens. They might show a cradle or rocker, and play a sound effect of a baby crying in order to convince you that there’s a baby there. Or they might have a real baby. Which begs the question: where in the world do Hollywood studios get babies? Do they just send the director into a hospital and have him ask!?

Not quite. Believe it or not, there is a studio called Jam2000 that is dedicated to sourcing babies for movies. There’s a lot of complicated stuff going on, but the gist of it is that studios will pay new parents to allow their newborns to be used in a movie. Often, pregnant women will be contacted by talent scouts who need to use a baby in a few month’s time. Parents allow this because they are paid generously and the studio will take care of the baby for a few hours a day. When you think about it, that’s a good deal for a parent: not just free childcare, but childcare that pays you.

Babies in the state of California, where most American cinema comes from, are only allowed to be on set for two hours a day. Of those two hours, the baby can only “work” for twenty minutes. For this reason, many producers seek out sets of twins and triplets. The reasoning behind this is that twins and triplets means you have three identical, interchangeable babies. So if one baby has already been filmed for twenty minutes, then you have another twenty minutes for its twin. With triplets, you get a whole hour at twenty minutes a baby.

Babies in movies often play the opposite gender. Male babies will play girls and vice versa. Generally, only the baby’s face and arms are shown, so it doesn’t make a difference what its gender is. Sometimes, a single baby will be used to play multiple different characters. In one of the Star Wars movies, baby Luke and baby Leia are both played by the same baby actor. Babies can be difficult to tell apart (unless you’re the mother, of course), so it makes sense to use one baby to play multiple roles.

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