Your Survival Guide to working on set
Congrats you booked a gig! Here's what to expect spending your day on set as well as some tips of what to bring and do from a Casting department member and veteran actor. To learn more about me, check out this link: https://www.koconsultations.com/about
First off, listen to the director and production crew. The AD's (Assistant Directors) are there to help coordinate you, the extras, the schedule and much more. If you can listen the first time they ask you to do something, you are more likely to be invited back for future roles, not to mention, it's professional.
Crew eats first. Now when you break for lunch or dinner, it is customary that the crew eats first, they are doing the heavy lifting after all.
Depending if the project is SAG AFTRA or NON SAG AFTRA, SAG AFTRA actors have determined time requirements for lunch, dinner and snack breaks according to the SAG bylaws. They also get to board transportation first, if transportation is provided to and from the set. SAG actors, if those breaks are not being honored, you are more than welcome to speak up to the AD's or alert casting.
Crafty is open to you. While yes, there may be a more extravagant crafty for those who are principal or crew, there is crafty for background actors and you can eat it on breaks!
Be on time to your call time. This feels silly to write, but I have personally spent countless hours talking to actors in the morning because they are not arriving to check-in on time. It's rude, unprofessional, and often you will be cut from working that day if you cannot arrive on time.
Don't bombard the principal actors. While some Principal actors are relaxed and will talk to co-stars and background when the camera is cut, some need the time to focus and reset for the next take. Obviously be friendly if given the opportunity to talk to lead actors, but please don't keep them from doing their job.
Read ALL the emails from Casting or your representative. All communication between you and your casting department must be understood. Ask questions if you have them, but read all the information thoroughly. We know it is a lot of information, but we can tell who didn't read it.
Now, for your actual day on set...
The days are long. On average they are 12-16 hour days, but sometimes they run over. Truthfully, you won't be working a lot of that time. Most of that time will be spent in holding waiting for an AD to get you for your scene or you may spend 12 hours holding the same position to reenact the same scene.
Also, there is a possibility that you won't even be used. Whether that is due to the space scouted being smaller than what you expected or there are not enough costumes, just politely listen and hold back. If you are not used in a scene, it is acceptable to politely let the casting department know so you are available for future work. There are absolutely no pictures allowed to be taken on set, in fact you will sign an NDA agreeing to that. All of your personal items are left at holding while filming so please do not bring any valuables to set!
What to bring to set:
Phone (for holding)
Something to read (I like bringing books to set because it gives me the chance to recharge)
Work (as long as you are comfortable leaving a computer at holding)
costume clothes (if requested by the costumer or casting)
Snacks (especially if you have food allergies, the provided meals sometimes don't provide specific options for those with allergies)
Sunscreen (for days filming outside)
Layers (for days filming outside)
Forms of ID (a Driver's License, Passport &/OR SSN Card) are all good options for when a PA checks your ID when you complete your payroll paperwork.
Hair or makeup items to stay tidy (as long as you don't change the work the makeup and hair departments have done)
All that being said, being on set is magical. You get the opportunity to watch actors in their natural habitat and you can even make friends on set!
So, be prepared and have a great day on set!
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