Dar­ren Cartwright

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY -

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

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