3 Stereotypes to Avoid Becoming On a Film Set

STEREOTYPES, Film set, film crew

3 Stereotypes to Avoid Becoming On a Film Set

Often the biggest problem stopping new or inexperienced crew continuing to get work is their attitude. Sometimes it is the fact that they just can’t fulfill the job, but most of the time it all boils down to their attitude and how they approach the tasks. There are many negative stereotypes that emerge on set during work experience or from junior employees, and I can guarantee if you start to display these characteristics early on, you will struggle to find employment. Here’s what to avoid when starting out.

The Know-It-All

Congratulations on winning the prize for best cinematography at your school’s film festival. However, don’t parade this fact around in front of everyone on set with your superior knowledge and opinion because, well, no one really cares and you are possibly now in a new league of experts. Nobody begs to work alongside a know-it-all. There’s nothing worse than a new person on set that cannot be taught and doesn’t listen to instruction because they think they already know everything.

They have the arrogance of thinking they should start at the top, and are not prepared to put in the hard yards of starting at the bottom rolling cables or making coffees to learn from the more experienced and skilled professionals. These know-it-alls don’t last long on set. Often they are ridiculed behind their backs and hung out to dry when it is inevitably revealed that they, just like everyone else, do not actually know everything.

How do you avoid being ‘that guy’? If a crew member explains something to you, let them finish their sentence before you cut in with your own thoughts. They may say something you didn’t expect or teach you something you didn’t already know. Even if you find you do have the upper edge on some of your peers, adopt the rule of ‘know-it-alls finish last’ and be courteous anyway. It will dramatically improve your road to respect.

Generation Y

This generation gets a bad rap on film sets, but as a member of the group myself, we do sometimes fit the stereotype perfectly. I’ve seen twenty-somethings start their work experience or first job on set with electric enthusiasm as they finally get to do what they’ve always dreamt of. Soon, they realize that fetching coffee and rolling cables wasn’t exactly what they figured a twenty thousand dollar post-grad cinematography course would afford them. They become dejected, unwilling to do these small tasks, and usually sit down behind the Director’s monitor, just enough in the way to annoy everybody.

Out comes the phone and its zillion social media platforms as the bored Gen-Y does what they can to sustain themselves for the next four minutes because the Director inexplicably wants to do another take of the shot! Like three hours hasn’t been long enough! Truthfully, film sets can be polar opposites within minutes. One minute they are crazy-busy with the whole crew involved in setting up a shot, and then for the next hour nothing happens while the scene rolls for up to twenty takes. It takes effort to keep concentrating when nothing’s happening, but as soon as you get distracted is when you’ll be asked to help out and you won’t know what is going on as your head is buried in your latest status update.

The Big Ego

This is one of the worst stereotypes. There’s no place for egos on set. This person is similar to ‘the-know-it-all’ but generally just thinks they are awesome without any validation of formal training or achievement. The film industry may hold the promise of fame and glamor, but you’ll soon find out that the shine and glow is limited to red carpet premieres and award ceremonies. There’s nothing glamorous in stomping around in foot-deep mud when it’s been raining for the last three weeks or carrying equipment up sand dunes in blistering heat while you shoot desert scenes. Nobody wants to be dealing with your ego on set, especially when you are first starting out (when you’ve won an Oscar you might be forgiven).

You’re there to do a job, that’s it. If someone asks you to do something but you don’t want to, get over your ego and get the job done. Some of the most recognized and awarded people I’ve met have been the most humble and accommodating. As a result, the crew strives for excellence for this individual, as they are well respected and genuinely nice.


Matt Webb is the author of Setlife: A Guide To Getting A Job in Film (And Keeping It). He is an Assistant Director with credits including The Great Gatsby, Mad Max: Fury Road, Hacksaw Ridge, Pirates of the Carribean and Alien: Covenant.

Setlife: A Guide To Getting A Job in Film (And Keeping It), film terms

Setlife: A Guide To Getting A… is a must-have guide designed to prepare you for what happens on a typical day on a film set. Matt Webb’s no-fuss, practical tips are essential reading for anyone chasing a career in the film industry. The book is available for $25 from Amazon.



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5 Comments

  1. ocube on March 23, 2017 at 5:03 am

    Hey Alex,
    Love your podcast, thanks for being an encouragement to indie filmmakers. I’ve been listening to your promo for ‘Hollywood Camera Works – Directing Actors’ and considered getting it but it seems to be an incomplete course? Its supposed to have class 1-17 but only shows 1-10, with 11-17 not listed. Do you have any info on this?

    Thanks.



    • IndieFilmHustle on March 23, 2017 at 5:51 am

      Thx for the kind words. Yes, Per is putting out a new 1:30 hr lesson every month. Trust me it’s well worth the price. He released it early to get the ball rolling. Love that course. Changed the way I work as a director. Good luck my friend and keep on hustlin’



  2. DalTones DalToons on March 25, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    I used to run cross country bare foot in the muddy fields.. I never gave up.. it was like Chariots of Fire if ye know the old movie.. but then again I didn’t really learn to give up hurling either and way past my ever being required.. I held my man as they say.. never gave him anything as they say.. I need to be more competitive in beating myself somewhat.. or my lackadaisical shtick perhaps.. really it is about having the ideal studio. I am lethargic.. I don’t have the energy and I can get more fit now but it’s like a fecking hole in the head which affects my pitch, pun intended



    • DalTones DalToons on March 25, 2017 at 2:21 pm

      in saying that I got walking recently and love the drained end of day sunset aside from any kidney blunt wound of pink bright pulse in the aftermath… there is a pending case of the people vs tonydaltony.. no joke



  3. DalTones DalToons on August 8, 2017 at 11:38 am

    anxiety is easily cured in simplest act of interaction of chemistry of human relationships and lobotomies are unnecessary and drastic on an atomic level. we all aught practice individual and collective spiritual connections and cleansing etc….