No matter who you are on a film crew, no matter how important you are, there are some rules you have to follow. Shooting a movie means a lot of stress and so many long hours on set that your significant other might never see you. In the worst cases, it will either end the relationship or with one person filing for divorce. You will be cranky from a lack of sleep if a movie star keeps forgetting their lines because this means more delays and reshoots, which cost money. You may want to tell the actor off using the worst expletives imaginable, but that will get you fired. If you are loud on set, take any pictures of the stars on set, or make inappropriate comments, you will also be canned (and maybe even blacklisted from other movie sets).
But if you are well-mannered and amicable, the higher-ups will take note, and if you continue to behave this way, they may even give you a promotion. The overriding rule that Hollywood film crews have to follow is to be gracious, courteous, polite and professional. The way you conduct yourself on set is very important. It shows that you are professional.
A movie costs a lot of money to make and if you are interrupting the set in some way, you will be fired immediately. What else should you know? Well, here are 15 rules Hollywood film crews have to follow.
15. If You Talk To The Talent Between Shoots, You Will Be Fired!
You need to have common sense. Set etiquette is a very important component in keeping the movie moving. Some are as follows. Never run on set. This usually involves the PA because he or she is running back and forth to get things done. Running on set involves risks, like getting hit on the head by scaffolding. Another rule is that you should be quiet while on set. No laughing, no taking pictures, no loud confabs. If there is something wrong with the gear, the conversation should be taken off set away from the rest of the crew until a solution can be found. Do not move equipment while the camera is rolling. Do not try to interact with the actors because you are their “biggest fan.” This will distract them. Your unprofessionalism may cost you your job. Just act normally and catch a glimpse of your favorite actors far away from the working crew.
14. Crew Is Expected To Stay Alert Even After 16-Hour Days
Film crews are notorious for the hours they keep. Working sixteen to eighteen hours every day can make you sleep deprived. Higher ups and celebs get many breaks and can do whatever they want in their trailer. For the film crew, it’s imperative for everyone to be ready on set no matter how sleepy they are. Short turnarounds are expected, and working sixteen hours and then going home to get only five or six hours of sleep before returning back to the set at 8 am is required. Members of the film crew must never complain. But when you are exhausted, physically and mentally, you may get snappy. Don’t do that! Every time you talk to someone, like the first assistant director, is a chance for you to get promoted. Maybe she or he will like you and will ask you to help out with her duties.
13. PAs Have To Remember Actors’ Breakfast Orders…And Everything Else
A PA (Production Assistant) is at the bottom of the totem pole and is on set to do all the things no one wants to do. The most important rule that a PA must follow is to remember every person’s name, and everything else. Asking for someone’s name after he or she has told you it will break your career. You have to memorize it. The best way to accomplish this is to look at your call sheet when a person introduces himself to you. This will allow you to memorize names. A PA is also a runner. Every morning actors will request their breakfast orders, and it is essential that you get them exactly the meal they described. Sometimes there are lockdowns, which means filming is happening. It is your job to deny anyone who wants to go on set access during these times. This applies to everyone, including the most powerful people in Hollywood.
12. You Need Permission To Leave Set…Even For The Bathroom
If you need to go to the bathroom, all members of the crew should be informed in case someone asks where you’ve gone. You must tell your boss first. Second, you must tell the assistant director. But the problem is the AD often doesn’t know who is in the bathroom, as they have many things to deal with. With that in mind, you will be fine if you make an effort to tell your boss. If you can’t find your boss, make sure someone will cover you. Do you still want to do #2 now? Is it worth it? By the time you find permission, you’ll probably be pooping your pants. These rules are intended for lower level crew, but if you do your best to mind your manners, as you should, hire ups should make the call too.
11. You Have To Follow Dress Code Or Else
The film crew has wardrobe rules that they must follow. For footwear, they must not squeak on the floor because that will distract everyone. You should wear soft-soled shoes or sneakers. You can forget about HIGH HEELS and MEN’S DRESS SHOES because both make clapping sounds. For those who are in construction—these are the people who build the sets—they should wear work boots but only if the soles are designed for gripping. So if you’re working on raised structures or scaffolding, your boots won’t make noise. For clothing, you can’t show up to set wearing t-shirts with rude or obscene graphics and slogans. You also can’t wear pink sweatpants with a humongous “Pink” logo on your butt. Instead, you should wear dark, muted colors. And, yes, there’s a reason for wearing dark colors. They don’t distract the actors, the director, and the production crew and they also won’t reflect light.
10. You Have To Jump At Every Chance Or You Won’t Make It
If you get a call to work on a film, you must take it no matter what, especially if you are still new to filmmaking. It’s hard to find work in Hollywood, so this should be something you want. Any hesitation and the production team will immediately move on to the next person on the list. Thus, there are some specific rules to follow. First, you must be fully prepared to commit weeks while working on a film. Second, if production falls behind schedule, you must stick around. Being on a set is a privilege, so you must act accordingly. While you may be genuinely enthusiastic when you first start, know that in the future, you will have to act enthusiastic because you will suffer when the director needs to reshoot, which can last all night. Don’t ever show that you are faking it!
9. Don’t Follow An Actor Home
The director will shoot 4-5 takes if everything has gone right. But the crew knows that’s never the case, as there are many reshoots. A reshoot can happen if there are shadows or glares, or if there is a plane flying by that messes with the sound. But the main reason is that an actor has forgotten his lines. It’s tedious for the crew to recreate the shot. Once again, the key crew will plan how to light and shoot a scene. Doing so takes about an hour. After a run-through with the cast and camera, the shot will finally be taken HOURS LATER! The crew will be peeved, but the rule is, NEVER SHOW THAT SIDE to the actors, especially to those who are powerful and could cause you to get fired. The best thing to do is to follow the actor to his home and let out your aggression by pulling out your Remington Model 870… Just kidding!
8. You Need To Make Yourself Invisible When The Lights Are On
You must be prepared when lighting begins because you need to leave the set immediately. After rehearsal, the only crew on the set should be grips and electrics. Do not ever interrupt rehearsals or conferences between the actors and the director, even if you think you need an answer or it is necessary to get your work done. Remember one word: WAIT. And if you are needed on the set but not that very moment, make yourself scarce but available. Yep, you figure that out. Also, remember not to stand in front of a bounce board because you will cast a shadow. When all is said and done, the best place to stand when lighting is going on is to do so behind the camera crew.
7. If You’re Late For Call Time The Film Will Lose Money (And You Might Get Canned)!
Call time is the time you start work. Before call time, you can go to town with craft service food. But all this ends at call time. You should be early, earlier than your call time, say around 10-15 minutes. You CANNOT be late for call time. The saying “time is money,” works here. If someone on crew is late, this costs the production time and money. But if you have to be late for a pressing reason, you must call production immediately, and they will notify your department. And if you have to leave the set for, say, a family emergency, you must inform the supervisor on set so that he or she will know where you are going and, above all, how long you are expected to be away. But having to be late and having to leave the set must be because you had a serious emergency.
6. You Will Be Thrown Out If Your Press Interview Interferes With Shooting (That’s You, Mario Lopez!)
Many don’t know what the production team does. Well, the production office takes care of the needs of others, from actors to financiers. They ensure that the schedule for the day is progressing as planned. The role of a production coordinator is to promote the film while shooting. This means she will coordinate visits for the press to come on set. The job isn’t easy, which is why the coordinator will team up with assistant directors to make sure that the interviewer’s questions won’t go longer than planned and interfere with the shooting schedule. Now here’s the rule the crew must follow: No matter who the interviewer is, no matter how popular they are (think that guy from Saved By the Bell) they must follow the direction of the coordinator and the assistant directors OR ELSE!. They are the people who keep time so that shooting isn’t delayed.
5. You Can Smoke Your Brains Out On Set, But Only If You Are Brad Pitt
All sets are different. If you find yourself on a new set, obviously everything and everyone may be different. It’s your job to be professional on this new set, and learn their manners. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt and introduce yourself and be polite and friendly. If you’re seen grazing at the craft service table multiple times during the day, you will be embarrassed, as this is not the time to stuff your face. You’re here to work, that’s it. Finally, don’t smoke on set. It’s common manners to do it outside, so you should smoke your brains out off set near the butt cans. If you follow these rules and with a little experience, your job can go from monotonous to fun, and if you blend in with your new environment, you will soon be appreciated as the consummate professional.
4. Being On Location In Cool Places Doesn’t Mean You Can Leave To Explore!
Being on location is not the time to let loose. If a scene takes place in a house on Martha’s Vineyard, and the house overlooks the beach, do not bring your swimsuit so you can jump in the water. Instead, you will be telling the crew “goodbye” because you just got canned. Minding your manners and impeccable etiquette doesn’t just apply to the soundstage. This means if you go on location, remain the way you’ve been taught, be quiet and unobtrusive. Thus, you should respect the homeowners. Be friendly with them because homeowners fear that their house will be ruined or that something will be shattered. Many will also worry about their floors, but someone on the crew who has good manners to a T will know to place location mats on the floors well before the crew moves in and before the set is decorated.
3. Don’t Count On Your Marriage Lasting
For film crews, the hours you keep are hard on yourself, and a ten-hour turnaround means you can only sleep for six or so hours if you take into consideration leaving the studio, falling into traffic, and finally arriving at your home before doing all that again the next day. When production is behind schedule, your salary will rise. You may be sleep deprived, but the chance for more money may be more desirable. Say you have a girlfriend. Well, now you can take her to fancy restaurants. Actually, we take that back. The implicit rule for a film crew is that they have to give up their lives. Forget relationships because the hours you are home are dedicated to sleep. You will no longer have friends. You can’t be married because you won’t see her. If you do, she will file for divorce because you are an ephemeral ghost.
2. Don’t Even Think About Asking A Question That’s Explained On The Call Sheet!
The call sheet, issued daily to the cast and crew, is very important. Made by the assistant director using the director’s shot, it informs cast and crew where and when they should report for a particular day of filming. The rule that the crew must follow here is to read the entire call sheet and keep it with you at all times. If you ask a question that is already explained on the call sheet, you are wasting production’s time and showing them how unprofessional you are. Another rule is that you should never ignore the call sheet because it is your guide for the day. Bound by good etiquette, the crew usually doesn’t disregard the call sheet, resulting in all hell breaking loose. It’s mostly the actors who need to read the call sheet but don’t. They just look at the time where they should be.
1. Even If You Are Mr. VIP, You Should Mind Your Manners
If someone is on a lower rung, like being a PA, don’t think they are disposable even though they are. All lower-rung employees are here to assist the higher-ups, and if you are a higher-up, you should follow the rules that film crews abide by, which is to be courteous and to mind your manners. So be patient with the less experienced and try to teach them as you go. One day you’ll need a Starbucks run and you will ask your PA. She is not your personal assistant, but she will do it anyway and with a smile on her face. Unfortunately, this abuse of the PA is pervasive, but a PA will never complain, as they need to gather real-life experience while on the set or study the mechanics of making a movie because they are unpaid interns or are just starting out after completing film school.