One of the students in my online course (no longer available; see our Workshops page for current offerings) recently posted a question on the class discussion board that I thought others might benefit from. She was stressed about going to work on set for the first time and wondered what she could do to calm her nerves.
First, I recommended that she print out the Set Glossary and Etiquette cheat sheet provided in that week’s lesson and sneak it into her pocket to refer to in case of emergency. (Non-students could look for similar material in other film and television acting books.)
I also recommended that she tell the 2nd AD (or whomever she had been asked to report to) that this was her first time working on a film set.
It’s better to let those in charge know right up front, so they can take you under their wings, show you around, introduce you to others and make you feel welcome. That’s much better than pretending you’re jaded and know how things work, then have someone bark at you if you don’t understand an instruction or you step in the wrong place (which probably won’t happen, but I would be nervous the whole day that it would!).
By owning up to it right away, people will be extra friendly and your anxiety will disappear. I would even ask to be introduced to a more experienced talent who can show you the ropes. That way you can hang out with him or her all day, gain inside tips and follow his or her lead when you’re not sure what to do.
Here are a few more tips:
* Get lots of sleep the night before.
* If you have an early morning call, set TWO alarms, so you don’t oversleep.
* Make sure you know exactly how to get to set (some people even do trial runs the day before to make sure they won’t get lost on the day of the shoot).
* Plan to arrive on set 15 minutes BEFORE your call time. This gives you a nice cushion in case there’s traffic, shows that you’re a professional, and will hopefully give you a few minutes to start meeting people and asking questions before all the other extras with the same call time start arriving.
Nothing’s worse than arriving late and frazzled, when you’re already nervous about being on set. 🙂
* Don’t forget to bring a magazine or a crossword puzzle or some knitting to do, in case there’s a lot of waiting around. If it’s your first time on set, I’d suggest you try making connections with others, rather than zone out to music with your headphones on between shots. If you’re waiting somewhere where it’s not disruptive to the shoot or the crew, feel free to chat with the other talent and see what you can learn. You might even learn about more acting opportunities!
* Break a leg! (Just not by tripping over a lighting instrument, okay?)
Hope you find this helpful!