Child actors at risk in Turkish TV series industry

A psychological counselor told soL news about the unacceptable working conditions of child actors in Turkish film/TV series industry
Friday, 08 February 2019 12:50

A psychological counselor Elif Ayaz, who was working with child workers, gave an interview to soL news about the working conditions in the TV series production sets in Turkey.

Ayaz stated “It is not uncommon for teams to work 24 hours a day, sadly for children as well. Continuous change of locations and long working hours in terms of job security is also a very risky situation, and I have to say that I have never worked in a set which had job security experts…this and many other deficiencies actually affect children the most… usually, there is no mechanism that protects children.”

Stating that she had to deal with the problem of meeting basic needs such as food, security, sleep, and accommodation, Ayaz said, “There is abuse at the point where basic needs cannot be met, and this cannot only be overcome with psychological support.”

Emphasizing that children need a regular schedule with their food and sleep, Ayaz stated the uncertainty of these matters, as well as 14-15 hours of work, can cause physical development to stop or slow down and that children are kept awake by the directors if it is not certain when they are going to enter the scene.

Ayaz stated that it is thought that being famous is much more important than the education and development of child actors "used" in the sector, and even teachers can make it seem as if the children did come to school even if they did not.

“For example, it is common for children to take drugs such as antibiotics even before they are sick.” “Because if the child is ill, the scenes cannot be shot, and if the scenes cannot be taken, they become worried that the children will be assigned fewer scenes,” she added.

Ayaz points out that very few sets have psychological counselors, which means that no measures have been taken to ensure that children work safely on the set or that these measures are left to the initiative of the assistants.

“In the crying scenes of a child who was afraid of failure, I have witnessed many times that the director has embarrassed the child in front of everyone and tried to make them cry, saying “You have failed again, you've failed again… There is a formula such as 'a child + crying = more rating'”, Ayaz stated.

Talking about what can be the solution, the counselor said “I think a legal regulation is absolutely needed. As long as there are no strict legal arrangements, it is very easy for both the producer and the team to put the children to the second plan, so everyone will prefer it, and that is the first reaction without thinking. Psychological counselors who will work in TV series sector can be put through special training and a system can be established where the ministry is behind the consultant.”

”6-month-old babies have coffee in their bottles,“ said the Turkish actress Meltem Cumbul in 2015 about the working environment in the sets. Non-stop working hours, TV sets without toilets, food problem at late-night shoots, salary cuts have started to be considered common in the sector. The unhealthy and inadequate working environment of the set workers has become a well-known fact over the years.