First Day On Set?

    Here’s to you, starting in the film industry, mainstream or independent!

    If there is one thing that I’ve learned when I started working in film is that it’s hard work. Making it in this industry is more than having talent, it’s about your work ethic.

    Here are a few tools that helped me develop a good work ethic and that can help you as you wanting to launch yourself in the film industry.

    I am sure there could be a lot more things to add to this work ethic list, but I wanted to at least name a few. These were a few that personally helped my “relationship”/ interactions with my employers and fellow employees and hopefully they will also help you. Good Luck!

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    1
    Be available, say yes!

    Employers hire you to work. It's that simple. Like any other job, your employer is looking for someone who will be available to work, not always asking to leave early or to have time off.

    They are looking for reliable people who can show up for the job. Suggestion? Be available, be willing to say yes. Be ready to out in some long hours.

    2
    Be on time, no be early!

    Punctuality is extremely important in the film industry. There are a lot of people involved in a film, and being late also means you are making other people late. You are working in a team, meaning that your actions affect other people. Punctuality is a sign of respect.

    Show people you care about their time and their project by not only being on time, but being early.

    3
    Be efficient.

    You may have heard this already, but "time is money."

    Producers, studios, or someone is paying a lot of money for this film to be made, and the cost can be quite high.

    Make sure you are on top of things, doing things well but quickly and not wasting precious time.

    4
    ''Figure it out''

    There are no excuses in the film industry. One thing you will often hear when you start working on some films is ''figure it out."

    As much as it can be frustrating, learn to embrace it because that is now part of your job.

    5
    Be prepared for the routine...

    No matter what your role is on a set as cast or crew, you should always come prepared on set as much as you can. Actors come with your lines memorized and rehearsed (except if the director tell you otherwise).

    If you are on the crew, have your gear ready (batteries, cameras, etc.) Think of what could go wrong and prepare accordingly. Bring more batteries than you need, gaffer tape (because you ALWAYS need gaffer tape).

    6
    ...but flexible in the unpredictable.

    Simultaneously, be ready for the unexpected. We can't control everything and things will change. Filmmaking is a world of constant change. You need to be flexible and adapt to whatever is going on. The more you will be prepared, the more you will know how to react when faced with the unexpected.

    7
    Don't take things too personally

    The context of set life is stressful; people will be direct and sometimes harsh with you. You need to know that it's normal.

    My advice? Don't take things too personally.

    The stressful environment doesn't give people a good reason to be insulting or rude, but it can help you understand why. Brush it off, stay positive, and do what is asked of you.

    8
    Do it before you're asked

    You want to be one of those people who anticipates the needs of others before they even say it. I know it sounds abstract, but in reality it's quite simple. You need to know your role/job, be observant, be alert, be willing to help, and be listening.

    9
    Persevere

    Films are hard to make. Period. It's almost abnormal to have everything go perfectly fine while making one. You are creating something collaboratively, it's long hours, you don't get much sleep, and the list goes on.

    Persevere.

    If you push through, then you can be part of something big. Filmmakers want to work with people who won't give up when it's hard, but rather take on the challenge.

    10
    Ownership

    It goes back to the ''no excuses'' principles. If you've made a mistake, which will happen, own up to it and fix it. Don't put it on someone else or find 25, 000 excuses why you did not do it or why it went wrong.

    Blaming doesn't help anything get fixed. Just fix it.

    No matter what your role is, if it's a PA (Production Assistant) or a DP (Director of Photography), make this project your own. It's still about the director's vision, but when you make a project your own, you give it your all. Work for others the way you would like others to work for you.

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    • Rébecca Alarie is a writer/director/producer with Trois Flèches Productions, an independent film company located in Québec, Canada.

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