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  • Kevin P. Baker

First time on set? A guide to Set Etiquette!

Updated: Apr 15

So, you've landed a role on a film set! Congratulations! Whether you're a seasoned set hand or a nervous newbie, understanding proper etiquette is essential. A film set is a collaborative environment, and respecting the unspoken rules keeps things running smoothly. Here is the go to guide that the Team at PMG uses for Set Etiquette!


First Things First!

Firstly, the most important part of anything in life, is being dressed for the job! Now just because a film or video set is fun, exciting, and new, doesn't mean that it isn't a job. You should come to work wearing clothes as follows.


Business Casual

Production Specialist Maya Elby on Set

A good rule of thumb, especially if this is one of your first film/video sets, is to wear business causal clothes. You will look good, feel good, and you will never be overdress for sets that are more chill/relaxed. Business Causal is a go to for many people in our field, and seeing people wearing golf shirts, polo's, and khaki's/jeans are normal.


Another thing that we at PMG, and most other people in production would reccommend, is to wear black, or other darker colors! These help minimize being caught in reflections, and can help you blend into the environment more!


Comfortable Shoes

Make sure whatever shoes you wear, you are comfortable standing in for long hours of the day, and will not impede your work! Sneakers are perfectly fine, just make sure you don't mind working in them! At the end of the day as long as they are comfortable, and you can work a 12 hour day in them, it doesn't matter a ton.


Professionalism

A basic rule for any job, anywhere, is to act and look professional! What does this mean? Well it means different things to different people, and can sometimes vary (slightly!) crew to crew. We at PMG thing that professionalism boils down to 3 main things!

  • Be Respectful to Everyone on Set, and Around You!

  • Be Hardworking!

  • Be Positive!

While these things seem simple, they are vitally important to the job site. Anyone in this industry can tell you about a person who zapped the energy off of set, didn't give their all, or was disrespectful to someone. An easy way to be hired again, is to be a decent person, and do the bare minimum of decency!


Ok now you are dressed for work and look the part! Now what?


Call Times, Wrap Times, and doing your Job!

What is a call time? A call time is when you are suppose to be on set. So if your call time is 9:00 AM, then you need to be at work before 9 AM. PMG's best advice regarding call times? Be ready to work at your call time! The Grip Book by Micheal G. Uva says it best, "Some say that, if the call time is set at 7:00 a.m., for example, then this is the time you begin your work. I fully agree with this statement! If the call time is, in fact, 7:00 a.m., this means to me that you have arrived at the set’s location, parked your car (if necessary), put your tool belt on your hip, and are ready to swing your hammer at 7:00 a.m." (The Grip Book, page 6). We at PMG stand by this, and making sure you are on set early, and ready to work at your call time is important, and one of the easiest things a person can do!


Wrap Times are when its time to pack up all of the gear, and leave. You won't get to Wrap until the end of the shoot (And there are plenty of other set etiquette things for set you need to do first!) but once it is time to wrap, our best advice is to work hard in helping pack up the gear. Focus on your department first, and then move to aid other departments, if they need/ask for your help. For example, if you are a Production Assistant, make sure crafty, and all other items that fell under your jurisdiction are packed, before you move to aid G&E, Camera, or Sound with their departments.


One that same note, the most important and final note of this section, is to do your job! What do we mean by that? If you are hired to be a Camera Assistant in the Camera department, make sure you are doing your job and all the duties for said job! While other departments may ask for a hand every now and then, you should only lend a hand, if your duties are completed, or your department head gives the ok! While from a great place, a team works best when everyone is doing their job to the best of their ability, and if you aren't doing yours, then things may fall behind schedule!


Lastly Tips, Tricks, and Advice for set!

Ok so you now know the basics. You are on set, what do you do and how do you act? Well if you follow the rules we said above, you should be able to keep your head above water. Below are a few more tricks that we would recommend to anyone on set!


Be Alert and Anticipate!

When on set, it is important to be alert, and to always be on your toes! Sets can go from fast pace, to slow, to fast, in the matter of moments, and you should always be ready for anything to happen! Avoid being disracted by your phone while on set! If you are currently not working, you should identify what needs doing next in your department, and work on that task! Your department head, or co-workers, should never be looking for you!


Be Teachable!

If you are reading this blog post, chances are, you are going to be on set, and are new to sets. So our best advice is, if you don't know something, say something. People in this field are open to teaching people things, and would rather tell you how to do something, then have you guess and possibly break something. But after you are taught something DON'T FORGET IT!


Charlie Puritano on a set with audio tech Ken Pexton

Be Likable!

This is a hard one. This industry, like many others, is gear towards extroverts. Video work, and film work, is a very word of mouth business. People often get jobs because they were recommended, and how do you get recommended, by being likable. Also when on set, it doesn't hurt either! Charlie Puritano has a saying, "Video shoots are like boats, and who do I want to be stuck in a boat with for 5 hours? I'm going to hire them!"


Be Yourself!

This is a weird one, but it is true! Production Specialist Kevin P. Baker, remembers a time when he was the youngest guy on a set, and was trying to prove himself. He recalls that he was running around everywhere, and rushing to get tasks done in a timely manner, to prove he deserved to be there. Eventually a guy, named Moose, took him to the side and told him, that he needed to slow down, and do the job right. He didn't need to prove himself to anyone. And neither do you! You deserve to be on whatever set you are on! You have earned your spot in this industry, and feel free to take some of the advice that we have given in our blog post here!


We at PMG hope that you learned something from this blog post! To read more about tips and tricks for the industry, please go to the rest of our blog posts here!

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