How To Never Get A Job On A Film Set
Trying to land a job on a film set is hard to do. With the film industry being competitive, unless you have connections, if you don’t have the connections or experience, it’s nothing short of a marvel to get hired to work on a set.
There are crew members in the film industry that can go from one completed project to the next with ease, there are individuals that just sit and wait at home waiting for the chance to be a day call on a film set.
So, if you are one of those crew members that are a permittee day call just waiting for the chance to get on a film set, the minute you get the call, the most important thing to do is not blow your chance on the first day and never get called back again.
I have seen it time and time again on several productions that some crew members don’t follow proper set etiquette, and I never see them again. When I say never see them again, I don’t mean they get banished to the Bermuda triangle, I mean that their career in the film industry is over.
So what is the proper film set etiquette to follow? Well, there are so many rules that a film crew member should be aware of, but in this article, I will go over 10 Ways To Guarantee You Never Get A Job On A Film Set again.
Related Article: 10 Best Screenwriting Software For Film (Free and Paid)
How to Never Get A Job On A Film Set
How To Never Get A Job On A Film Set – If you have been lucky enough to work regularly on a film set, you probably have worked on some film productions that were a dream to work on, and other productions where you were overworked and underpaid. You take the good with the bad because the film industry is one of the industries to work on.
You get to travel to different locations, you get to meet tons of new people, and you get to eat for free.
But if you are fed up with 12+ hour workdays and frustrated with supervisors who abuse their team, there will be moments where you want to leave the production and never come back.
I understand because I have been on great film productions that paid really well and everyone was treated with respect, and there have been productions that I would rather sell car insurance than step foot again on a film set.
But if you haven’t experienced the film industry world yet, and want to have a long career in it, I’m here to help with a guide on 10 ways to guarantee you never work on a film set again, so you won’t do them.
Related Article: How to Film Yourself – 10+ Best Practical Vlogging Pro Tips
Want to Learn More About Filmmaking?
Become a better filmmaker with the MasterClass Annual Membership. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by film masters, including Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Spike Lee, Jodie Foster, James Cameron and more.
Don’t show up on time
How To Never Get A Job On A Film Set – When you get the daily call sheet, usually the night before your shift, you will see your call times on when to arrive on set to start working.
If you want to make a great first impression, you should set the precedent that you are reliable and ready to work by showing up on time. The key to keeping your role on the first day of production is showing up and being on time.
By not showing up on time, you will give the impression to your department heads that you are unmotivated and irresponsible. These are two factors that will surely help you fail to get more work.
Talking back to your department heads
How To Never Get A Job On A Film Set – While I get that it can be frustrating when you hear from your supervisors that you are not doing the job correctly, but sometimes you have to let it go.
There will be times on set where there will be people telling you are doing something wrong. While your supervisors may have years of experience and different ways of operating a set, doesn’t mean they automatically know what they’re talking about.
The key to keeping your job on set is to either listen to them and do what they have told you to do, or diplomatically talk to them to show that their practices may be a little outdated and suggest another way that is more efficient to the production.
The problem with this method is that it can be a slippery slope.
A film set is fast-paced, and despite your best efforts to show them a new trick, they may not want to work with someone that will question their methods daily. So choose your methods carefully.
Don’t prepare accordingly
How To Never Get A Job On A Film Set – You get the call from a connection you have in the industry, and they want a position to fill in as a set dresser, what do you do? Do you just take the job and fake it when you get on the set or do you read up on the role and be prepared for first day?
I know that when I was called into work as a set dresser for the Netflix production “Maid”, I took the job and spent the night before my first day researching the role. Preparing for your role is key to success on a set. Plan out what a set dresser does on the set and what tools are needed to be helpful to the team was essential to my success on the production.
Sure I have a resume focusing in producing, lighting, and directing in short film, but I put that off to the side and focused on the job I was assigned to.
The day I showed up on the set and was matched up with someone that had a similar background to mine and thought that producing award-winning shorts as a filmmaker, that being a set dresser would be easy and felt they would just wing it on the set. Let’s just say that I was called back for the remaining months of the production, and the other person wasn’t.
If you are looking to get into the film industry, you should take time at home build your knowledge about other departments that you may interact daily on the set.
If you don’t know how to do something, learn it. If you come in with the impression that you know everything and your supervisors find out that you don’t have the skills or the willingness to learn, you will be gone faster than the first coffee break.
Blame others for your mistakes
How To Never Get A Job On A Film Set – Have you ever worked with an individual that feels that they don’t make mistakes? Or have you worked with someone that tries to convince others it was somebody else’s fault and blames it on them?
We all have worked with individuals that waste everyone’s time by putting everybody in a bad mood because they push the blame away from them, but the key to keeping your job on the set is to accept your mistakes and move on to correct them.
If you blame others on the set for your mistakes, you can guarantee nobody will ever call you back on a set again.
Lose or destroy equipment
How To Never Get A Job On A Film Set – The equipment you use on a film set shouldn’t be your concern, because most of the time it’s rented or will be sold off after the production is over right? So if you lose it or damage it, why should you have to worry?
Well, regardless of what department you are in, losing or damaging crew members or the production gear is a surefire way to anger the crew of production heads. If you do this on the set, it will damage your reputation as being reliable, and you may never be hired again in the near future.
I have seen situations on a film set where a truck swamper is asked to deliver equipment to a different department that they are not part of, and carelessly toss it into the truck only to have it broken when delivered to the correct department. As a result, the swamper was asked to leave the film set and was never asked back again.
So, if you want to establish yourself as a trustworthy crew member that people can depend on, the most important rule I can give you is “don’t break stuff or lose stuff.” If you can follow these rules, you will have a prosperous career in the film industry.
Trying to carve out some time away from the set
How To Never Get A Job On A Film Set – Regardless of what department you are in, you will be working long hours on a set.
I know for some productions I have been on in the past, working beyond 12 hours a day is normal. So if you are working 60+ hours a week on production, you should be able to take a break from the set every now and again, right?
So what if everyone else is working the same number of hours on the production; you need some “me” time and take a break from it all, or your day will be ruined.
Also, you don’t need people to tell you what to do or when to take your break, you are your own boss on a set.
Well, I have bad news on this; I have seen Production Assistants (PA’s) and location crew members to just a location because they felt they needed a break and weren’t going to wait for no one to tell them to go on a break.
The result of this was seeing the public walking through film sets, or team leads showing up to survey the location with the creative team like the director or producer, and losing it on everyone around them on how unprofessional the crew is.
If you have the mentality of “you’re not the boss of me” attitude, good luck finding a job in the future on a film set.
Making the crew not know you’re on their side
How To Never Get A Job On A Film Set – It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon! This is something a production manager mentioned to me three months in on a 10-month tv-series shoot. So if you have the mentality that it’s every person for themselves, a week into a long production, good luck finishing off strong with the remaining members of your team to complete the project.
If you are a newbie to a new set and being introduced to a crew that has been working with each other for years, if you come in abrasive and mean on the job site, good luck being asked back.
I have seen new crew members come into a seasoned crew halfway through a shoot, not remembering individuals’ names, not introducing themselves to everyone on the crew, and being unfriendly throughout a production shoot be blacklisted from further productions in the area.
Just because you may have been a script supervisor assistant on a big-budget production before joining a new production, if you walk onto a set not knowing anyone and trying to throw your weight around, you will be DOA.
Having no sense of urgency
How To Never Get A Job On A Film Set – When it comes to producing a film, time is money, and what the producing team needs is a fast crew. A fast crew is the first thing that comes to mind when a producer is building their team during the pre-production process.
If you don’t want to be hired for the next feature-length film or television series, make sure your reputation is out there that you are a slow crew member. Having a reputation for being slow on a set, is a sure-fire way to be unrecommended for any production.
So what should you do to be hireable? Have the reputation for being an efficient crew member that gets the job done right the first time.
Acting Like a Groupie/Fangirl/Fanboy
How To Never Get A Job On A Film Set – If you are trying to get on production because of an actor, director, or producer that you are a huge fan of, make sure you contain your excitement on the set you are hired to work on the production. Everyone on the crew is paid for a reason, and that reason is to work, not to chase around the talent you are a fan of every chance you get.
There is a lot of pressure that the talent in front of the camera has in regards to delivering the best possible performance throughout the production. Actors, producers, and directors are so focused on the production that they don’t want to be interrupted by some fan that wants an autograph or stalker.
The film crew is being paid to make all the behind the scenes work like clockwork, just because you have access to the talent on the set doesn’t mean they want to be approached.
Related Article: Low Light Video – 7 Best Tips For Shooting Video In Low Light
Complain at every chance you get
How To Never Get A Job On A Film Set – Want to find the perfect way to never get hired on a set? Complain every chance you get!
There is nothing like hearing a crew member just complain all day till the production ends. The crew you are working with is working under the same conditions you are, sometimes eating the same craft services, and using the same toilet day after day, it can be miserable but you are not alone on this adventure.
If you are new to the film industry, when you are on the set, it’s never wise to speak your mind about the same things that everyone else is going through.
Complainers are never liked, so it will lower your chances of getting a job in the future, and you’ll be stuck at home more than you want.
Keep in mind that there may be times that you might have to complain, like the unfair treatment of the team you are working with, but you have to know when to pick your battles.
Eager to learn more?
Join our weekly newsletter below featuring inspiring stories, no-budget filmmaking tips, and comprehensive equipment reviews to help you turn your film projects into reality!
If you found this post useful, please do consider sharing it or letting your friends know via social media. Have something to add? Please feel free to do so in the comments section
below. I really appreciate it!
📌 Don’t forget to save the blog for later, pin the image below!
About the author: Trent (IMDB | Youtube) has spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.