Congratulations you have followed through with your goals and landed a job on a film set! You may be a carpenter, grip, set decorator, or even a camera assistant but what sort of etiquette is expected of you? Your first few times on set will be exciting and daunting, you may be so overwhelmed that you forget yourself. Worry not, these important film set etiquette tips for beginners are here for you. Considering these habits while at work will land you exactly where you want to be; employed.
“Hell is other people”. – Jean Paul Sartre
You don’t want to be anyone else’s hell on a particularly long shoot. Even more of an asset than your skill set is your attitude at work. Attitude is what those around you will notice most and a good attitude is a very important trait especially for a filmmaker. Why is this you ask? Well filmmaking is very time consuming and if you are going to be spending sixteen hours every day working beside someone you are going to want that person to be someone you can get along with. A pleasant and easy going attitude will go along way with your co-workers and lead to more work in the future.
“Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one”. – Simon Elkeles
Your opinion is valuable and making snap decisions on a film set is crucial to running a production but your opinion can sometimes be unwanted. When on set you you should be careful when criticizing things like how the production is being run or how the story is being told. You never know who is listening and your opinion (even if it is correct) can be distracting to others who are trying to focus on developing the story. As a beginner focus on self criticism and look for ways to improve your work habits.
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen”. – Winston Churchill
Being able to listen to instruction and your surroundings is a great asset to you as a filmmaker. When first starting out on a film set develop your listening skill as fast as possible. Make sure you’re performing a task the correct way. If you are uncertain ask for clarity. Nothing is worse than having to do a job twice because of a misunderstanding. Stay alert while you work, listen to what other departments are doing. This will help you prepare yourself for upcoming scenes.
“The only stupid question’s are the ones that aren’t asked” – famous aphorism
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask as many as you can! There is always a time and a place to strike up a conversation but most will be happy to explain how to do something or what a certain tool is used for. This shows interest in your work that others (department heads) will appreciate.
Following these tips is the first step to elevating your status on set. Remember that popularity can go a long way in this business and you never know who has a job waiting for you one day. With experience comes the confidence of a hardened motion picture technician, worry not you will get there!