Hints for Working on a Movie Set
Work on a movie set often means “hurry-up and wait” You’re going to be asked to wait for long periods of time in between your scenes. If you don’t know what’s expected of you during these waits, you might accidentally make a serious mistake and be asked to leave. To keep you alive and well on the set, here are some of the directions you, as Background Artists, are required to follow:
1. BRING ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS FOR YOUR I-9 information to the set. This includes your driver’s license and social security card, or, birth certificate, or passport. You will not get paid, or be asked to leave if you don’t have these. Print legibly. If your paperwork cannot be read, this will slow down the process for you to get paid.
2. BE PREPARED. Be prepared to stay all day (about 12 hours). Once you’ve been established in a shot, you must be there in case you’re needed again. If you choose to leave, you will not be paid or rehired. Sometimes the production will end quickly and they will let you go but you must let them give you the OK.
• Arrive 15 minutes before you actual call time. You will use this time to fill out paperwork and to get where you need to be.
• Be very quiet on the set and in the holding areas. Everyone needs to hear all of the directions at all times. You surely don’t want to miss a cue.
• Do NOT approach the cast and crew with questions, for autographs or for photos.
• Do not touch any equipment
• Leave your valuables at home. Do not leave valuables in your car. They are not responsible for lost or stolen items.
• Be patient and pay attention.
• Put your cell phones on silent or vibrate, and do not answer it while they are shooting.
• If you make a commitment you must show up!
3. IMPORTANT TERMS AND PHRASES
When on set, expect to hear the following:
Rehearsal –practicing the shot. Sometimes this will be with just the cast or just the camera. Often it will include background. The AD (assistant director) department will be very clear as to who is participating in the rehearsal so that everyone is aware.
Picture Is Up—this means we will be shooting the next time (rolling film). Everyone that has been directed to work in the shot will participate.
Rolling – the camera and sound begin to record. Please stand by.
Background Action – this is where all of the background act and do what they have been directed to do.
Action—the cast (those speaking) begins their acting.
Cut—everybody stops acting and listens for instructions.
Reset or Going Again—We will do the same shot again. Please return to where you started on the previous take. Please do the same exact thing as the previous take unless directed to change it.
Check the Gate—last stage before setting up a new shot. Please stand by.
Moving On or New Deal—A new shot will be set. Please listen for instructions, as this may be an appropriate tie to use the restrooms or get food and water.
4. WARDROBE Please bring at least one outfit that would comply with the descriptions below but not to exceed 3 outfits. If you don’t have anything vintage, then clothing of the appropriate type and color (described below) are also acceptable.
GOOD COLORS BAD COLORS
Light Blue Hot Pink
Red or Green Lime
Peach or White Bright
Tan or Grey
****This may be obvious to many of you, but please wear proper undergarments in case you are asked to change clothes.
HAIR DO NOT SHAVE YOUR SIDEBURNS OR CUT YOUR HAIR BEFORE THE END OF THE SHOOT.
As non-descript as possible. PLEASE avoid ultra-modern, huge, high-tech tennis shoes. If period appropriate shoes are not available, dark shoes in general are quite helpful. Sandals and platform shoes are also useful.
Again, as non-descript as possible. Gray black, tan, and pastel trousers are acceptable. Wide leg is acceptable for women, as well as some flare. No bell-bottoms. NO SHORTS.
SHIRTS/TOPS Shirts and blouses in the preferred colors are appropriate. Oversized T-shirts are not appropriate.
COLD WEATHER: Some scenes may be outside, bring appropriate clothes to keep warm when not shooting
• NO Big logos (i.e. Nike, Coke, Gap, Rocca, Enyce, etc.)
• NO Acid washed denim
• NO High contrast patterns/plaids
• NO Super baggy hip hop clothes
• NO Shorts
Please keep dates and production information in case you need it to track payment issues or for your resume. Do not gossip or speak badly about the production, other talent, agencies etc., clients want positive professional people. Remember every production is different be ready for different methods in everything they do. Also generally it takes 2-4 weeks to get paid but sometimes it takes longer with national clients. These tips are generalities and will help greatly, but remember every client will have various things they may expect, so be sharp and ready.
Have a great adventure!