I love that filmmaking is such a beautiful collaboration and community of artists and people with incredibly diverse skills. Even though it’s the actors we end up seeing on the big screen, they’re only a small part of the process.
But even the smallest part can either make or break a film. Here’s a few things you can do as an actor to help make set life easier for everyone:
KNOW YOUR LINES
This happens way more than it should. The amount of work that goes into making a film is incredible, so holding the whole crew up because you haven’t learned your lines is embarrassing and disrespectful.
Know your lines like the back of your hand and you’ll make life easier for the entire crew. Do the best you can. Obviously, don’t beat yourself up if you’ve accidentally forgotten a line, but don’t ever make it a habit.
BE ON TIME
The show can’t start without you. Do the best you can to be early. Oftentimes, the crew sets up the shots hours in advance to prevent you from waiting around too long. Do everyone a favour and prevent them from having to wait around for you.
It’ll cost the director fewer grey hairs and allows you not to rush onto set stressed out and unable to focus. Needless to say, it is unprofessional to be late.
UNDERSTAND ROLES AND SET ETIQUETTE
A film set can be overwhelming. If you know the different positions and their functions on set, you’ll be able to feel calmer as well. If you are anything like me, you tend to think you’re the source of problems or postponements, which is usually not the case. The actor will be able to figure out what’s happening on set without unnecessarily becoming nervous. And a calm actor will make set run smoother.
To make communication easier, generally only the director and their assistants should be the ones talking to you. So don’t worry if other crew members don’t talk to you or look at you. They are not annoyed by you, they just want to create a space for you to concentrate on your character.
LET PEOPLE TAKE CARE OF YOU
As actors, you get treated like guests on set. You are the face of the movie and so the crew will make sure you’re taken care of well. I found it hard at first to be treated like a queen when everyone around me was working hard. I wanted to help wherever I could, but I was actually slowing things down.
Let the filmmakers take care of you. Again, it’ll help make production much smoother in the long run, even if you think you’re being selfish. Don’t cause preventable hassle, even if it is well-intended.
BUILD A RELATIONSHIP OF TRUST WITH THE DIRECTOR
View your relationship with the director as a collaboration. Ask questions, be curious, and try to understand their vision. Trust the director knows what they’re doing and support their vision. You are there to serve his/her story.
The director’s job is to create a safe environment for you to be vulnerable. If he/she is confident in your trust, communication between the two of you will be stress-free.
There’s a saying on set, “Hurry up and wait.” which means the crew will often be intensely busy for a short period of time, only to wait for hours until the next shot needs to be set up. Waiting around for hours is a part of filmmaking, so expect it. Everyone’s in the same boat, and you can make the experience better for everyone.
TREAT CREW WITH RESPECT
Before my first film internship, I’d only been on set as an actor. Once I was behind the camera, I was amazed by the incredibly hard work that goes on behind the scenes. Everyone was working tirelessly, it seemed unfair to treat the actors so much better than the crew.
That being said, there’s no reason not to treat crew members with just as much respect. It breaks my heart when I hear stories of actors being difficult or dramatic. I’s just not right.
Nothing ruins the creative community more than bad attitudes and disrespect, so be the best actor you can be on the screen and behind the scenes.