Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Set Etiquette

Film Set Etiquette is so incredibly important.

And a lack of it is the tell-tale sign of someone new to set.

As usual I quote from with a few additions of my own. 
Check out The original posting which focuses more on the G&E perspective: or keep reading below:
  • Drug and alcohol use is frowned upon on set. Films sets are fun to work on, but they are also super fast paced and you need to be able to keep up. A head fogged up by anything slows down the process, and no one is fond of that.
  • Keep you mouth shut and your ears open. Only speak when you need to. If you're gabbin' away in the corner your undoubtedly missing the AD and Director deciding that they're going to "flip the world" shortly. ("flipping the world" means turning the camera around to see the other half of the room.) Or- eeep! you missed the "Rolling!" and have now been caught talking during a take.
  • Respect the chain of command. 
  • Be polite, say please and thank you.
  • Learn people’s names. You'll be working together for a while and it is always easier to work with people you are on a first name basis with.
  • Be watchful and respectful of your co-workers. 
  • Try to show up a little early. Do some networking, learn where the equipment is, read the call sheet, have a coffee. Do whatever it takes to prepare yourself for the day.
  • If you discover you will be late for any reason- call you boss immediately! Film crews work as a team and anyone missing can potentially cripple the process. The sooner your boss knows the sooner they can work around it.
  • Arrive on set prepared with the tools you need to do your job. (For the art department- I will have to post again later about what I tend to bring with me to set.)
  • At top of day report to your department head, introduce yourself and be respectful. They always need to know once everyone has arrived.
  • When given instructions in person or over the walkie be sure to acknowledge by saying “copy” or “copy that”. Do not copy if you do not fully understand the instructions. Feel free to repeat back, ask questions or do whatever it takes to fully understand what you are being instructed to do. More walkie talkie etiquette on
  • When in need of a washroom break be sure to tell your boss! You are fine as long as your boss knows and someone is around to cover you. As a Cinematographer, Director, or Production designer the AD must be told.
  • Watch your boss and be aware of what is going on in your department and around you.
  • Work hard, but don’t over do it. Pace yourself, the days are long and there will be plenty of work.
  • Allow others to do their jobs, don’t be a hero. Don’t chirp in about things that have nothing to do with you or your department.
  • If you want to help another department ask them if they need it first. A simple “may I?” before moving a camera case or stand can save you a lot of grief later. The bigger the set the less likely you will be allowed to touch anything that doesn’t belong to your department.
  • Take a call sheet at the top of the day or print one the night before. In most cases many of your questions can be answered by looking at the call sheet
  • If on a longer job don’t be afraid to ask for a one liner, It can help you to be ready for future days.
  • Do not just plug items into any available outlet. Never unplug anything. ALWAYS ask an Electric.

If you're in charge:

  • Be patient with the less experienced and try to teach as you go. 
  • Don’t be afraid to assign tasks or delegate responsibility, even if someone is working for a lower rate or for free that doesn’t mean baby them. In most cases people working for free are there for the experience and would be willing to do almost anything within reason.
  • Appreciate their hard work and thank them graciously. It’s a simple as saying “great morning guys, thanks for the hard work” or “awesome work today, thanks” at the end of the day. Even covering one pitcher sometime and saying “thanks” goes a hell of a long way.
  • Look out for your people! Don’t let them get taken advantage of, make sure they are being paid fairly, being well fed and getting their full lunch hours. Why? Because they deserve it, the better paid, well rested and fed they are the better they will make you look and the better you will make your boss look.
  • Be assertive when you need to be. Don’t be too nice because you will be walked all over. 

Dealing with Production:

  • If you have a question or concern make sure you are bringing it to the right production team member, don’t hassle the director about something the PM (production manager) should be dealing with and don’t ask the PM something that the AD’s should be dealing with.
  • Know the roles of the production staff, it will get your issues dealt with more efficiently.
  • When you are asked to reply to an email or phone call try to do it as soon as possible. It makes for a very stressful day if you can’t get in touch with the crew the day before a shoot starts.
  • If anything strikes you as odd or concerning on the call sheet let the distributor know as soon as you receive it, don’t wait until you are on set and it might be too late.
  • Keep a copy of the call sheet on you at all times, production doesn’t need to be bothered with questions that can be answered if you just read the call sheet.
  • Don’t ignore the call sheet, some people think that all they need to know is what time they show up and then act surprised when there is a location move. Production doesn’t spend hours working on them for you not to read them.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions or raise concerns, there is a lot going on in a production office and it is possible that things get overlooked.

Sensitive Locations:

  • Respect the home owners wishes. If the home owner is around or you’ve been given instructions to not unplug something or avoid going in a certain room follow those instructions to a T. Otherwise you could get the whole production kicked out. 
  • Careful when removing tape from painted walls or hardwood floors. Although you should be using 2 inch black paper tape (painter tape essentially) it can still cause some damage, so be gentle. 
  • Never use gaff tape on painted surfaces. It will always take it along of the ride when you remove it.
  • Avoid using nails and push-pins on walls- unless given specific permission to do so. Use command picture hanging strips or poster puddy, every time. The reason is mostly due to respect for the location but it also avoids tiny holes all over the place every time you have to move a picture to compensate for the tighter shots.
  • Use moving blankets when sliding around heavy furniture. It saves you back and the floors.
  • Do your best to return the location to the condition it was in when you arrived. If you damage or break something tell Production ASAP. Even if it’s something tiny they can easily be doing damage control or figuring out how to repair or replace it.

Based on that information here’s how to deal with the Electrics:

  • Tell them that you need a line for a certain item, don’t just ask for cable. You could go as far as telling them the wattage, but just saying “Hey, I’d love a line for my smoke machine” is enough. That sentence alone tells them that it will probably be 10-15amps and from there they know exactly what they can do.
  • When they say they will get to it, they will get to it. Don’t pester. Things are prioritized and in many cases there are 5 things that need to happen before they can get you power.
  • When and if you’re done with the line tell someone, don’t just leave it laying there. You could also wrap it yourself, but be sure you know the proper way of wrapping cable.

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