Dos and Don’ts for Your First Week on Set

January 12, 2013  |  Posted by: Kathy Tyner

first day on setWhether you’re an actor or working behind-the-scenes in the film production crew, your first experience working on a film or television production set can be exciting. But while it’s a huge accomplishment, it’s only the first step on your path to a career that is hopefully long and successful – and how you handle your first job can determine your future opportunities. Here are a few dos and don’ts that can help you get your first week on set started off on the right foot.

Do: Take Care of Yourself!

No matter what your job, days working on set can often be long and exhausting. Your best chance for survival as you adjust to this schedule relies on showing up in the morning ready to tackle the day; the last thing you want is for your energy to be drained by noon. Make sure to get plenty of sleep on the nights before you’ll be working; late nights out can wait until a day off. Be sure to eat a filling breakfast that will keep you going throughout the day. You may also want to consider bringing energizing snacks, such as protein bars, as busy days may leave little (or no) time for lunch.

Don’t: Be Afraid to Ask for Direction

On a busy set with stress-levels running high, the idea of admitting you don’t know something and asking questions – especially from seasoned industry pros – might feel a bit daunting. However, it’s far better to ask a question when you don’t know what to do than to make a guess and have it turn out wrong. The keys are to avoid unimportant questions – or ones that you could likely figure out on your own – and to ask at the right time (during a break, not in the middle of a take). 

Do: Be on Time

No matter what your excuse, few things say “unreliable” like showing up late to the set – especially in your first week on the job. Even things outside of your control, like traffic, are unacceptable excuses. It’s up to you to factor in potential delays. In addition to arriving to the set in the morning, this also includes being where you need to be, when you’re expected to be there – making the cast or crew wait for you is unlikely to earn you a positive reputation.

Don’t: Lose Focus

If this is your first time on a professional set, the enormity and pace of it all may be somewhat overwhelming, and may take some getting used to.  However, don’t let yourself lose focus – or professionalism – by getting distracted from who you are and what you need to be doing. If you want to take it all in, get to the set early so that you can do so on your downtime, not when you should be focused on work. Even if you’ve never been here before, try to act like you have; this means no wandering around where you shouldn’t be, touching equipment that isn’t yours, or acting unprofessionally towards any celebrities on set. Remember: getting more opportunities to be on set relies on proving yourself as a professional.

Do: Learn Who’s Who

Film sets can be bustling, busy places with many people performing many jobs. As you’ll likely be relying on or working directly with many of those people, it’s important to quickly learn who everyone is. In addition to connecting faces with names and job titles, it’s important to learn – and respect – the hierarchy and chain-of-command. Don’t hesitate to say hello and briefly introduce yourself as you see people arriving in the morning or taking a break; not only does it help you learn who they are if you need to find or address them, but it can help you start to build connections that can turn into valuable relationships later on.

Still Have More Questions?

KD Conservatory has acting, musical theatre, and film production programs to help prepare students for careers in the entertainment industry. Contact us with any of your questions, or check us out on Facebook for ongoing updates and information!

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