Example. In The Pirates of the Carribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, during the scene where the Black Pearl pirates are raiding the town, there are a couple of brief shots of a terrified, screaming child, maybe 2 or 3 years old. He looks TRAUMATIZED.
How the hell did they do that? Did they just plop the kid into the middle of the mayhem and scare the shit out of him? Isn’t that sort of cruel? Isn’t it possible that could create long-standing phobias and nightmares?
And knowing the film industry, the shot would have likely been done more than once. So did they keep the kid screaming? Did they have 40 screaming children that they used interchangeably?
How the beans do they do shots like this in films without being horribly, horribly cruel and inhumane?
Seriously, it’s easy to create phobias through classical conditioning in a toddler or baby, but it’s pretty easy to reverse them, too. (For a developmental psychologist, that is.) The people who best know how to make babies cry on cue also know how to make sure they aren’t screwed up for life.
I have no idea, but as the parent of a small child I can tell you that many kids routinely scream several times a day, as they bump their toes, lose toys to other children, don’t get their way, see a bug, lose the bug, the graham cracker breaks, you don’t sing the song just right…and they look pretty traumatized while they’re doing it. Little kids don’t have much of a sense of proportion, and graham-cracker-breaking is a horrible tragedy to some of 'em.
Possibly all you have to do is gather some tragedy-prone kids, set up a camera, and wait.
For many (if not most) toddlers, all that is necessary to make them scream bloody murder is to dress them up and ask them to be quiet. Seriously, if you set a child down in a strange place, with lots of strangers, cameras, lights, etc., and get Mom to walk out of sight, they will scream at the top of their lungs.
Casting directors look for kids whose general state of being is what they’re looking for: cryers, smilers, stare-into-space-and-look-cute, etc. If they want a kid for a crying scene, they’ll cast a kid who cries throughout the audition.
Then the kid will act however the hell he feels like acting on the day of shooting. If you want him to cry, he won’t.
There is a person on set (NEVER mom or dad) whose job it is to make the kid cry. Usually they do this by giving the kid something (a sucker, a toy) and then taking it away and ducking out of the shot. They shoot for a few seconds, and them mom or dad swoops in and saves the day, consoling the kid.
(Incidently, the last time this came up in a thread I got accused of condoning child abuse. Whatever. :rolleyes: )