BEHIND every child actor is a devoted parent who makes sacrifices and endures heartache – a story that can be seen in The Hollywood Complex.
The documentary centres on families that flock to tinsel town to be part of a pilot season, where for five months they stay at the Oakwood Apartments, Burbank, which also doubles as a one-stop acting shop.
Filmed over a couple of years, starting in 2009, the documentary looks at the tough world of child acting and exposes the grief, bravado and perpetual self-belief of the children who believe they can ‘‘make it’’ in Hollywood.
Their home-away-from-home, Oakwood Apartments, provides acting classes, agent castings and seminars for the children and their parents. Crying On Cue is just one of the courses on offer.
Meanwhile, parents are told they’re also being screened – if they’re deemed unsuitable it could cost their children a role. ‘‘If we don’t like a parent we delete the child off the tape,’’ casting director Stuart Stone says.
Among the aspiring young actors in The Hollywood Complex is chirpy 14-year-old Megan Haun who was 11 when the documentary was first shot.
Originally from Missouri, Megan has since changed her name to Presley Cash, after Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, and her biggest break so far is featuring in the Taylor Swift music video for Mean.
Presley and devoted mother Sandy have been living at Oakwood Apartments for seven years in pursuit of that one big break.
‘‘It’s really lucky if you get one audition a week,’’ Presley says. ‘‘I’ve just signed the contract for a project which I can’t talk about but it’s really cool and I’m going to film it real soon. It was good for other people to hear my story (in The Hollywood Complex).’’
Presley, who is in the ninth grade, is home-schooled and also receives tuition over the internet.
Meanwhile, there is Presley’s dad and Sandy’s husband who remains in Missouri waiting for Presley to ‘‘make it’’.
The Hollywood Complex also deals with racism, stereotypes and the casting sharks ready to profit from the innocent dreams of children and their eager parents.
A child of Asian origin is told to return during the episodic castings as that’s when they will cast ethnic-looking children as friends for the lead role.
An African-american child says he was told he’d be suitable for a gang part due to his colour.
Former child star Paul Peterson, who was a Musketeer and played Jeff Stone in The Donna Reed Show for eight years, also features in The Hollywood Complex.
Petersen, who is the founder of the childactor support group, A Minor Consideration, says: ‘‘If you are chasing stratospheric dream, there’s no shame in saying, enough is enough, it’s time to stop here.’’
Sundays, 8.30pm, ABC2