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Setiquette - what to do on a film set

Being on set - how to behaveWhen you are just starting out in the film and television industry, being on set can sometimes be pretty daunting, especially as you are not sure yet of what is expected of you.

UK-based arts champions Creative Skillset have therefore written this handy Setiquette guide for us – full of pointers on what to do and what not to do on a film set.

Remember that you are a trainee

You are not expected to know everything straight away; the crew will be patient with you. However, the quicker you learn, the more you will impress.

Be aware that the cameras are rolling

Whenever you’re on set, zip it when you hear ‘action!’ Put your phone on silent as you certainly don’t want to be the one whose mobile goes off during a crucial scene.

Get to know your neighbours

Build good relationships with all departments; it makes the atmosphere on set more familiar. Tensions can run high when the pressure is on, so when you need to ask a favour from another department, the time you spent building a relationship with them will definitely pay off.

Be early

Yep, you’ve heard it before: turn up on time - that means at least half an hour earlier than you’re expected. It makes a great impression if the trainee is one of the first in the department to arrive - don’t let the rest of the crew set up without you.

It’s ok not to know something

Don’t pretend to know something you don’t (even if you were only told yesterday and can’t remember). Be honest and ask for an explanation. Then write it down in the little book you are carrying in your back pocket (you should always have something to write notes in).

Remember the pecking order

You should be assigned work from your line manager. Do everything your head of department (HoD) asks of you. Do a tea round – it’s a duty of trainees in all departments, but remember that one day you’ll have a trainee to do it for you. Make life easier for your HoD and they will want you as part of the team on their next project.

Bend those knees

Remember the health and safety aspects of your department as well as the whole set.

Don’t ask for an autograph

Asking for an actor’s autograph really doesn’t look professional, so try and avoid it. When dealing with a particular actor for the first time, remember to introduce yourself and be friendly, but try not to bother them. When the camera is rolling, avoid being in the actor’s eye line – they have a job to do too.

Treat the equipment with enormous care

It’s very expensive, really, very expensive…

Whoops, you made a mistake

Don’t worry, we’re all human. Don’t brush it off though but accept responsibility for it, learn from it and move on.

You are vital

Though you might be the lowest grade in your department (or feel like it), you wouldn’t be there on set if they didn’t need you. So be attentive, enthusiastic and impress your colleagues – after all, they will probably be the ones getting you your next job.

To find out more about the ‘setiquette’, we recommend you visit the Creative Skillset’s Craft and Technical Skills Academy website or find other useful links when trying to break into the film industry here.

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