How Not to Get Fired on Set

The only fear a film crew might have is the fear of getting chewed out by the director for something ridiculous. Today we’re going to assume we’re on an average set where we don’t have to fear for our lives, but as always, will have to work with a professional attitude.

Filmmaker, Lesiba Malete shares some great rules for set etiquette which ranges across all roles on set.

1.) “Avoid eye contact with performers during a take”

When actors are in front of the camera between the director calling, “action”, and, “cut”, they are trying to live in a completely different world. Nothing breaks this concentration more than a PA holding a clipboard and a mocha staring you right in the eyes. Best thing to do, I’ve found is just to keep your hands at your side, don’t fidget too much, and keep your eyes directed away from the actors.

2.) “Mind your manners, respect your role and other departments”

I would say this plays a large role in personal space. Whether you’re on a small or big budget film, respect comes with caring for other people’s personal space, not leaving your gear in other people’s equipment locations, and definitely not taking other crew member’s things.

One time I was an extra on a feature film, waiting patiently to be placed on set, and decided to grab a cup of trail mix. After grabbing my snack the second assistant director came over and told me the craft service table was for lead roles only, and I should refrain from using it.

3.) “Always let someone know where you have gone”, “Always yell Crossing! Before crossing in front of the camera”

Quality communication is essential for filming to move forward with ease. When you have to go to the bathroom, be sure to tell an Assistant Director how long you’ll be, or more realistically, whether you’ll be going number one or number two (“10-1” means number one, and, “10-2” means number two).

If you’re a grip carrying a C-stand, you should be letting everyone know you’ve got a sharp object by saying, “Hot points”. If you’re a lighting technician ‘killing’ a light, be sure to say, “light going off” before ‘killing’ it. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a PA, a teamster, or the DP’s grandma; if you’re crossing in front of the camera’s line of vision, always yell, “Crossing!” as you pass in front of one.

These are just a few tips, and you’ll hear more from film crew veterans, but whether you’re a film school student or independent filmmaker, it’s always nice to know you’re not alone, and there’s grace for your mistakes (even if it doesn’t come from the director).

“Impress people, and make sure that you are having a good time while at the very same time doing what you love.” -Lesiba Malete

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