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6 Mistakes To Avoid Your First Day On a Film Set
1. Arriving Late
If you’re not early, you’re late. I aim to get to work at least 15 minutes early each day on a film set. This gives me time to set up, read my call sheet and sides, cram in some extra breakfast and make my boss a coffee. If you are late on day one you instantly create a bad reputation for yourself and this industry is built on reputation and relationships. Set your alarm early for the first day, pick out what you need to wear the night before and make sure you’ve had a look at where you need to get to so you don’t get lost.
2. Forgetting Names
No one will remember your name but don’t let that be an excuse to forget theirs. It’s great if you can remember as many names as possible on your first day on a film set, at least those in your department. This will make you stand out and give you the best chance of them remembering you. I sometimes even write down people’s names in a notebook or phone when they aren’t looking so you can refer back to it. Alternatively, you can also ask the production office for a crew list to help you remember who’s who.
3. Asking An Actor What They Do
You’ll be trying small talk with whoever is standing around. It’s pretty embarrassing when you ask an actor what department they are in or what they do. Embarrassing for them I guess, as they expect that you’ll know them from the seven short films they released on Vimeo last year. As long as you are polite I’m sure they’ll get over it. I’ve asked Mel Gibson’s son what his last name was. He politely replied ‘Gibson’. That makes sense, I thought.
4. Phone Ringing During A Take
This is even more embarrassing than when you wet yourself in kindergarten and had to go to sickbay to get some spare clothing. Don’t let your phone ring on set, especially during a take. At least have it on silent or even better, just turn it off if you don’t need it for some kind of emergency calls. Your Facebook and Instagram updates can wait until you get home. If your phone does ring during a take I can guarantee the crew will remember who you are and be hassling you each day until you provide a case of beer for your sins.
5. Walking Through The Back Of Shot
Film sets can be a daunting place at the best of times with crew members rushing about knowing exactly what to do and where to be. You’ll find it hard on day one to even find a place to stand that is out of the way. Have a good look at where the cameras are pointing and make sure you don’t settle in the back of the shot. It’s always embarrassing when you hear “Cut!” and the director berates the person that was standing in the shot only to realize that it was you…
A safe bet is near all the equipment trolleys. Usually, this is fairly close to set but enough out of the way until you discover your place on set.
6. Standing In The Actor’s Eye line
An eye line refers to where an actor is looking in the scene. It may be directed at the other actors, it could be out to the horizon or it could be an imaginary moving car that is driving in the distance. So, why should you stay clear of it? Actors are performers and they need to feel secure during filming.
You’d likely not love fifty people gawking while you feign ‘true love’ and awkwardly kiss your sweaty co-star in a claustrophobic studio. Such a kiss could only be made worse by a wandering PA aimlessly ambling into their line of sight. If you need to be close to the action during the scene, try and hide behind some equipment or set dressing so that you remain inconspicuous. Alternatively, turn your back to them or simply look down at the ground while the scene is played out. Don’t move around and fidget.
Alex Ferrari 0:56
So today on the show, guys, I wanted to talk about being on a film set. And it's something that a lot of us are on and especially when you're first starting out, there's a lot of things you a lot of mistakes, you make things you don't know secret languages that are spoken. And I've been blessed enough to meet a guy named Matt Webb. Matt Webb has worked on some big blockbusters down under over in Australia, New Zealand, working with George Miller have met on Mad Max, The Great Gatsby hawkshaw Ridge, the new Pirates of the Caribbean and alien covenant as just a name a few. So the guy has been on some major sets and he's an assistant director. And he wrote a book called set life a guide of getting a job in film and keeping it and Matt is doing a lot of writing for indie film hustle, we brought him on as a contributor. And you know, you know sometimes I forget what it's like being someone that's just jumping on a set for the first time since I've been on so many sets in my career. And it's really great to get this perspective and and he brought up a really good point, you know how to avoid some mistakes on your very first day on film set, which could be the most nerve wracking time to be on a film set. I still remember when I got my first pa gig, working, working on a show at Universal Studios Florida back in the 90s. You know, the first day you don't know what to do You don't mistake so he came up with six mistakes you should avoid and I wanted to go over those mistakes. Because I think they'll be very helpful for a lot of people listening, a lot of the tribe who are new to the industry. So very first thing and I think this is a great, a great tip, regardless of being on set or not arriving late. If you're not early, you're late and that's no question about you always try to arrive at least 15 minutes early to set that shows hustle that shows people that you're serious about being there. And that again goes through our life. You know, I always try to be early if you're late if you're if you're on time you're late and you always should keep that in mind with all things but especially on set especially when you're going on your first day. Try to be there as early as possible because I guarantee you people who hire you will notice that people who do hire, do look at hustle, look at not complaining, look at whatever that you ask them to do. You just do. And those are little tips, little side tips and I might be throwing a couple nuggets out there as I go through these six tips of things that will help you get a job and keep a job. Next forgetting names. This is something I need to improve on. I'm horrible at remembering people's names I remember everyone's face but I try hard for me remember names and I'm trying to fix that but it's something that you starting out in the film industry and being on set. remembering names. Huge, huge deal so if you have a smartphone, or even an old fashioned piece of paper little notebook which you should always have By the way, if you're a PA or first day on set, always carry a little notepad in your back pocket to make notes or anything like that or use your smartphone to do it. But when you meet somebody when they're not looking write their name down and write something that they're wearing that day maybe to make you remember so if they're wearing a hat they're wearing this or they're wearing that helps you remember and you got to study this on the during the day in the set. Just try to remember names because believe it or not If you do remember people's names right off the bat, they will notice you it's a sign that you care. It's a sign that you're taking this seriously. So definitely do not forget names. Mistake number three, don't ask an actor what they do. I know on a set, there's a lot of downtime, and you know that you're waiting for setups and things like that. So you might just not have anything to do at that moment. So you're trying to make small talk with people hanging around the set. And you you walk up to an actor, and you go, Hey, what do you do? What department are you in? And they go, I'm in the next scene. It's extremely embarrassing, and it's not a good thing. So just make sure you know who the actors are in the scenes before you ask that question. Matt writes, in the article, really great little thing, he was on Hacksaw Ridge, and he walked up to Mel Gibson son, he's like, Hey, what's your last name again, and he just very politely quietly just said, Gibson, and pretty embarrassing to say the least. But, but definitely just find out who the actors are, before you start asking those kinds of questions. Mistake number four, for God's sakes, don't let your phone ring in the middle of a take that pretty much is the nail in the coffin, if you're a PA, and in turn, a camera guy, anybody on set. If your phone rings in the middle of a take, you could have a Christian Bale blow up, depending on who the actor is, or the director or the producer or the DP, there's many department heads will lose their frickin minds if a phone goes off. So, for God's sakes, keep your phone on silent. Mistake number five, walking through the back of a shot. Sometimes, depending on how big the set is, depending on how big the scene is, you might inadvertently be standing in the back of the shot. And I believe me, this has happened to me on many of my shoots, where I have a PA, a camera guy a grip, who doesn't have an awareness of where the cameras are what we're doing at that moment. And I see them in the shot in the background and post and I'm like, you've got to be kidding me. And I've seen that on other movies I've worked on I'm like, Oh look, there's a grip in the back. Oh, look, there's a PA or look, there's a guest that showed up. And they have no idea what's going on. And they were just hanging out in the background, and they ruin the shot. So if you're lucky, it will happen in on the day as a directory, you'll be able to find it and fix it. But if you're in post, and you have somebody that's constantly sitting there, which I've seen happen, they got to spend 1000s of dollars sometimes to clean that person out because it'd be too expensive to go back and shoot. So please be aware of where the camera is, what the setup is, and what's going on on set. So whenever you're sitting down or hanging out, make sure you're behind the camera in a place that's safe, because you do not want to be the guy or the girl who is braided by the director or the producer or by the PR department head. Because you are just not aware of your surroundings and ruined a shot you're talking about 1000s and 1000s of dollars, sometimes a minute to be on some of these bigger sets. But on a film uneven on an indie film. It's still a lot of every minute that passes is valuable. So please, don't walk through the back of a shot. Don't hang on the back of a shock. And the final mistake to avoid is standing in an actor's eyeline. Now, for you for everyone who doesn't know what an eyeline is when an actor is working. And they're just they're acting in a scene and you're standing right where they're looking off camera that could take an actor out of the moment that they're in trying to create that magic that they're trying to create in front of the lens. So always avoid the actors eyeline, it's very disrespectful and it's an amateur move. You don't want to be in the actors eyeline. Now some actors are cool with it. Some don't care. But some like as I said before Christian Bale that whole Christian Bale blow up was specifically because a dp was right in his eyeline and he lost his crap. So do not be in an actor's eyeline. It's just disrespectful. Don't be jumping around. Don't be looking at your phone in their eyeline Have some respect for actors have fun and respect for what they're doing. And I guarantee you if you're new on set and you do it, you will get burned and you might not get hired again. So to avoid your eyeline, just turn your back to them. You could turn your back to them look down at the ground just don't hit that don't look at their eyes don't just don't, don't stand right in the middle of the actor's eyeline turn your back. Don't make any moves. Be still until the scenes done and then move if you're actually caught in their eyeline. So do the best you can just to be respectful. And that's it guys. Those are six mistakes that you should avoid on your first day on a film set. I hope that helps you a little bit. Matt's book set life is really awesome, by the way, and you could get a link to the book on the show notes at indie film hustle.com forward slash 140 How was this helpful Guys, please, if you like the episode, share it, share it with everybody, you can share it with all your friends through social media, email, whatever, please spread the word. And by the way, you guys have been spreading the word. The podcast has been growing in leaps and bounds. I think those last 10 episodes at that Sundance series I did really kind of ignited a lot of people. Last week's episode or earlier, the last episode, excuse me, on why I edited on DaVinci Resolve for this is mag, that was a that was a really successful podcast, everyone's really talking to me about it and really like it. So please keep spreading the word it's really helping out the podcast is really helping out the site. And at the end of the day, we're helping more filmmakers. And that's really, you know, what I'm trying to do is trying to get as much information out there some real information out there as as possible. So thanks again so much, guys. And don't forget that Meg is world premiering at cinequest on March 4 at 320. Now, myself, Julie and a bunch of the cast and crew are going to be at the Saturday screening and the Sunday screening Sunday, we have it on March 5 at 8:30pm. And then we've got another three screenings throughout the week. So if you're out there in cinequest, or you're near the San Jose San Francisco area, or LA area want to make the trip up to cinequest. It's a lot it's a great festival, a lot of great information, a lot of great panels and, and workshops and stuff like that, definitely check it out. And I'll put a link in the show notes to to all the if you want to buy tickets or want to get access to the world premiere, that'd be great. I also have a lot of cool stuff coming because I'm a maniac. And I apparently have no no life. But I actually do believe it or not. But I have a lot of cool cool stuff coming up for you guys on how we're going to be self distributing. This is mag, we're going to I'm going to be going through the entire process and documenting the entire process of how we self distribute this as mag, how we are released strategy, and you guys are going to be a part of that. And I'm going to talk more about that in the coming weeks. We're hoping hoping to release this is Meg in the summer for online and I will talk more about where and when in the coming week. So guys, as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.
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