Starting a career in the film industry is stressful because there are so many unwritten rules that can only be mastered through experience. The determination to quickly learn the ropes will enable you to avoid doing things on the set that might get you fired, but some rookie mistakes are simply the result of the poor work ethic or a lack of focus on the task at hand.
Seasoned professionals witness some unbelievable things on sets throughout their careers, and their stories are both comical and edifying because the things you can learn from experience are not taught in film schools.
Here’s how you can avoid becoming the butt of the joke on set.
1. Don’t Be Late
This sounds simple, right? In reality, that is often not the case, as movie sets often have a laid-back atmosphere, so it is easy to assume that it is okay to arrive a half an hour late. It definitely is not. What’s more, things are often late in the movie-making industry. It can be anything, from trucks with the lighting equipment to the star of the film. The trick is not to be that one thing the entire crew is waiting for, because that will make you the source of their anger.
Being late also means that you won’t have enough time to prepare, which can lead to other unsolicited missteps that might enrage the director or the crew even more. Always be ready for your day on the set, even if there’s not much to do on a particular day, because it will help you create an aura of professionalism.
2. Suggesting That Scenes Can Be Fixed in Post-Production is Often a Bad Idea
Although visual effects can be quite helpful at times, the chances are that the costs of fixing a scene in post-production are going to be bigger than the production costs. Video editing software are powerful, but they don’t offer solutions to everything.
Visual effects produce different results on different types of footage, and most effects also demand the footage to be captured in a certain way, so by suggesting that a scene can be fixed in post-production you’re also revealing that you don’t know a lot about the process. Sticking to the shooting schedule and making sure that it is executed to perfection is the best way to make sure that the footage doesn’t contain any mistakes.
Color Grading in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. Source: BENCO Video Productions.
3. Forget or Lose Your Own Equipment
So you did your best to arrive on set in time, only to realize that you forgot to bring the lens you’re going to need to shoot the scenes that are on the schedule for the day. Well, at least you’re not the first person to do it. Always pack everything you’re going to need on the set a night before, so you don’t have to pack in a hurry. Making a list of necessities also helps because it reduces the chances of overlooking an important piece of equipment.
Can you remember how many times you heard the Camera Operator shouting ‘Where’s my lens cap’? Don’t leave your lens caps, cameras, or any other piece of equipment lying around on the set, because you may forget where you left it. Put everything you use back to where it should be and save time on running around the set asking crew members if they saw a piece of equipment you misplaced.
4. Talking Back To Angry Directors Doesn’t End Well
It is only human to make mistakes and even the professionals with years of experience make them, but trying to justify those mistakes is a sign of naivety. If a director doesn’t like something you did or they just want it done differently don’t tell them why you think it is better if you took another approach. The chances are they will not want to hear what you have to say and that you will get them really angry.
To avoid the wrath of a displeased director you should just listen to them and make sure you understood exactly what they want. Also, interrupting crew members while they are giving out important instructions on the set is an expressway to getting yourself in trouble. Let others come to you and ask you about the work that you’ve done because that way they will actually be interested in what you have to say and even offer assistance if you need it.
Source: Universal Studios Hollywood
5. Being Too Friendly With Your Boss
Accepting the fact that everything changes when the cameras start rolling is probably one of the hardest things to do on a set. Five minutes before the director famously shouts ‘ACTION’ you may find yourself casually chatting with your boss, but that doesn’t mean that you can disregard your orders when the action starts, regardless of how difficult they are.
Mistaking your boss for your friend is easy because people in the movie industry are so friendly, but that is not an excuse to ask your superiors to cut you some slack. If you are not motivated by the friendly atmosphere and if you are not ready to do everything it takes for the crew you’re working with, then you have to ask yourself if you’re in the right place. Making videos or movies can be demanding at times, and even if you are friends with your boss in private life that doesn’t mean you should expect them to help you do your job on the set.
There are so many different ways to get yourself in trouble on a set, so the least you can do is try to avoid making the most common mistakes. Be professional, and try to give your best each day – your efforts won’t go unnoticed.