The Dos & Don’ts of Working On a Big Budget Set
On set etiquette can make or break your relationship with a client. A good reputation can take you far as a freelancer, especially when you want to maintain positive working relationships. If you want to leave a good impression, you need to know the dos and don’ts of working on set. Here’s a few tips to help you navigate your next big production:
DON’T touch equipment that’s not in your department.
If you are hired as a cam-op, do not touch the lights. Even if the light is in your shot and needs to be moved, you can’t be the one to move it. Everyone is in charge of their own department’s equipment and if you move the light, you could be altering someone’s entire set-up. It would be the equivalent of a gaffer adjusting your camera — it simply shouldn’t be done.
DO learn everyone’s names.
You know that feeling when you aren’t exactly listening to someone during an introduction and five minutes later you realize you don’t remember their name? When you’re on set, don’t do this. Pay attention and remember names. Knowing the names of the people you are working with and which department they are working under will save you time and show that you respect your colleagues.
DON’T voice opinions.
Don’t share opinions on a shot unless it is directly affecting your job. It doesn’t matter if you don’t particularly like the style of a shot, what matters is whether that shot is interfering with your job. For example, if a light is positioned in a way where it causes a lens flare in your shot, it could be a stylistic choice; but since it’s affecting your camera, you should speak up. Saying “the way the light is positioned causes a lens flare. Is that done purposefully?” won’t come across as an opinion on the style, but rather a concern on how it is affecting your work.
DO make yourself valuable.
If you want to leave a lasting impression on the crew, be prepared for every department. For example, bring clothespins. If lighting needs to put up a filter right away, you can whip out a clothespin to save time. You can do this with box cutters as well. You can also keep small tools on you in case a department needs something fixed quickly. You can become the person that helps the production run smoothly and efficiently.
DON’T become a citizen of video village.
It’s tempting to take a seat in front of the monitor and sneak a peek at the day’s work, but unless it’s your job, don’t do it. Video village is only for the producer, director, DP, and script supervisor. Anyone else spending time there is taking up space. Instead, when you have downtime, be on standby, pay attention to your area, make sure things or organized, or set up for a new shot.
DO wear darker colors.
Wearing dark clothes actually helps neutralize the set because bright, light colors can interfere with lighting. The lights can bounce off of your clothes and affect the color tone of the shot. Better to be safe than sorry and dark clothes are the safest way to go.
And now you know some film set etiquette, make sure you brush up on your set safety!
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By Lena Drake, Storyhunter Writer