Some easy tips on how to be a person people want on set.
October 26, 2020
I just got back from set yesterday. I had a wonderful shoot in Ottawa and decided to drive down the night before to ensure that I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for my call time the next morning.
It’s important to always give yourself extra time so that you can confidently and calmly head to set. You’ve probably heard it many times before, but first impressions are so VERY important. Even if you’re normally a nice person, one rushed morning can give you a bad wrap for a long time.
On my way back on the 4+ hour drive to Toronto, I listened to the fabulous Maya Rudolph on the podcast ‘In the Envelope’. If you’re not listening to that, you definitely should. It has such insightful commentary that you’re sure to find helpful.
One of the pieces of advice was “don’t be an asshole”. I know, it seems self-explanatory, but I’d say that most of the people who are assholes, don’t know they’re an asshole. They don’t do it on purpose. It’s usually a bad morning, or a bad night’s rest, or a chain of events that has left this person in a bad mood. Or, just plain ignorance as to how they could’ve done anything any better.
I have compiled a short list of how to not be a jerk or an asshole on set. These are really easy and simple tips that will ensure you become a cast member that crew and other cast want to be around.
- Arrive early! As I mentioned earlier, being rushed can put anyone into a bad mood, and things can have a domino effect from there on. Give yourself plenty of time. Then you can waltz on set, figure out where you’re going, get your Covid assessment done, maybe grab a bite or a drink from craft, then saunter your way into your trailer or holding area. Crew will be impressed that you’ve arrived early–but if they’re in a rush and not ready for you, be considerate–and just hang tight. That’s the best time to snap a few photos of #setlife (but be sure to read your agreement before sharing any photos on social media).
- Read your call sheet thoroughly! This again, may seem self-explanatory. But most of us don’t know just how much information is on a call sheet–it goes well beyond your call and lunch time. It will tell you what scenes are happening when, if you’re before or after a set shift, or before or after lunch. These are all great clues as to how to handle your time. If you’re in the first scene of the day, be sure you are ready and on standby. You do not want to be the cause of a rolling delay for all the other scenes. If you’re after a big scene and maybe a set shift–you’re still gonna be ready and waiting–but you know there will likely be a delay, so don’t make any plans for after shoot just yet. Another really important thing you should look at–all the names working on the production. There are a HUGE number of crew you will be interacting with, from hair and makeup, to costume, to the multiple AD’s, transport, and of course–the Director. Know their names, it’s especially important now because everyone’s got a mask on. It might be hard to hear what people are saying, but you should know before you sit in the chair to get your make-up done, who it is that’s behind that mask. They’ve taken the time to figure out who you are, please have the courtesy to figure out who they are, too.
- Have fun! Don’t take yourself too seriously. Yes, you might be prepping for a dramatic scene, yes you’re trying to stay focused, but you should’ve done enough of the work beforehand that you can be relaxed and laugh a little. Everyone is under pressure, but there’s always room for laughter. I’m not suggesting you prepare a stand-up routine, but the worst is when you walk on set with your head in your script giving off a “don’t bother me vibe”. Be open and always say hello to anyone you come across. And if you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Laugh at yourself a little, fix your mistake, and move on. I recently mistook someone’s elbow shake as an opportunity for them to cordially link arms and escort me to my holding area. Did I feel like an idiot when I realized that is NOT what the 2nd AD was there to do? YES! Did we have a great laugh about it and continue to have a great shoot? YES!
- Your food might be cold. This is the thing–when you’re on set, everyone eats when they can. Just because you’ve requested something doesn’t mean it’ll arrive when you want it. There’s no point asking over and over again. If you have a medical issue and you’re required to eat/drink at a certain time, ensure you let production know, and always bring your own snacks. Otherwise, just start getting comfortable with cold food and coffee now, and when it is hot–rejoice! It’s your lucky day.
And that’s it. If you want more detailed information on how to read a call sheet to get the most out of it, comment below so I can refer you to some resources, or do another blog on that one topic. Until next time-Break a leg!