So here you are, you have worked hard, spent a ton of money in schooling, advertisement, and probably a number of other things. This can be nerve racking, or frustrating. Why? Because you may not be doing what you came out to Hollywood to do.
You may be doing extra work (background) or PA work.
On the bigger sets, it is harder to get more than that.
On a low budget set, it is much easier to get selected to a specific department and move up the ranks in that department faster. If you have connections, you could do it on the big budgets faster. This business is mostly about who you know and how well you get along. Skill can be taught, but unlike other industries it is mostly taught by watching people do it and doing it yourself. The more you work, the more you learn.
But what happens on a movie set?
Each set can be different, some can be organized better than others.
- The first thing to look at is the call sheet. It has a wealth of information like the time and the location of the set. It also says how many scenes and pages of the set you will be doing for that day. More on that in the article on call sheets.
- The next thing to look at is who your immediate boss is. Understanding the workings of the set take time and each can be a bit different depending on the players of the game. For instance, if the producer has more credits than the director, he may have the final say. But if the director is producing the show, then he is the boss. Do your best to observe and listen and don’t get caught in cross fires.
- The next thing to do is listen if someone tells you to do something. Clear it with your boss if it is outside your department and do it if your boss tells you to. But if he says do it a certain way, then do it that way. Don’t get into arguments about how to do things. The key at this stage is doing more and less arguments.
- The next step and you will hear me say this many times is “go above and beyond expected.” Get very good at what you do. Show up early and stay late. In the beginning, the first day you are a beginner with no credits. I don’t care how much you paid for a degree and neither does the rest of the industry. You start where everyone else does unless you have connections. So be prepared to work.
- And one of the most important things is to have fun and enjoy what you do. Don’t complain. It infects the set and only makes things worse.
Don’t expect any movie set to be like any other movie set or the way you were taught in school.