What Not To Do On Set- Actor Edition
What I'm about to share with you is a result of meeting, working with, and auditioning hundreds of actors, all at different stages in their careers. I also worked as an actor for a number of years and studied it exclusively for longer. Auditioning is it's own beast, which I'll get into in another blog post. For now, let's talk about what happens when an actor books a job and arrives on set for the first day of shooting.
When I say "actor", I include all types (women, men, everyone in between). Everything I write is written with love, because I've been there, I know others that have been there, and I've seen these things enough that it's worth talking about.
A lot of time is put into making the call sheet each day by the AD. And the AD is someone you want on your side, ALWAYS. They are integral for making everything run smoothly, and if something isn't working for you (holding is super cold, you have a food allergy that seems to have been forgotten, you want time with the director to talk through the script, etc.) they can really hook you up if possible. You'll be communicating with them for the majority of the shoot, even more than with the director. Being late to set is a HUGE no-no. I get it, I'm always late no matter what it's for (I like to think I have a rare condition where I have no concept of time), but being late sets the whole production behind, which could cost the production more money and shots may need to be cut in order to get everyone out on time per union rules (even if it's not a union set). Have respect for people's time.
Talking about yourself NON. STOP.
Everyone on set knows you're an actor. You don't need to talk about yourself and the projects you've done with everyone in earshot. You were hired based on your talent; you know you're talented/capable. If you know it (and if you show it!) you won't need to talk about it. We rehire people based on their performance and whether or not they are someone enjoyable to be around. The fastest, easiest thing you can do is listen. Listen to those around you, ask them questions about themselves. It's rare to meet a good listener. Someone who isn't just waiting for their chance to speak.
Pitch Yourself for Other Positions on Set
Maybe you are a good editor or PA or work full time as an electrician. It makes people wary when you try to push yourself to take on other roles, especially when you are an actor. It's the idea that one person can't be really good at that many things. While that isn't true at all, it has the opposite effect of discrediting you. Nobody is going to hire an actor to edit the same film they've acted in. Own your work as an actor, it's plenty in itself and if you want to be hired by them again, own it! "This is what I can do for you, and you can bet your ass I'll do it well."
Talk to the Crew While They Are Working
The time to talk is when everyone is eating or at a wrap party or after work drinks, NOT during shooting. Stay in holding, focus on what you're about to do, and clear the way for everyone else to do their part.
Side note: You should never be on set when you're not supposed to be, it's a safety issue.
And the biggest, most important one...
Not knowing your lines.
This makes me want to rip my hair out and it has happened on EVERY. SINGLE. PROJECT I've ever worked on. You work so hard as an actor and you finally get the job. This is your time to shine and you DON'T KNOW YOUR LINES?!? (Obviously, this is something I'm very passionate about.) All the months and months (sometimes YEARS!) of hard work everyone has put into this before you even step foot on set and we have to stop everything because you don't know your lines? There is absolutely no excuse for not knowing your lines. It's a large part of being an actor and it's a quick way to making sure you aren't hired by those people again. The lines were written the way they were written for a reason, and it's not up to you to change them. Know them word for word, and if the director allows you to deviate from the script, THEN you can have some freedom with it. But know the script by heart. Whatever that means, make it happen, and you'll already be ahead of probably 60% of your competition.
These are some of the top bad habits I've encountered by a surprising number of actors. The crew will most likely talk about you when you leave for the day, so give them only good things to talk about!
Ultimately, just like any other job, you want to work with people that are enjoyable to be around and those who make everyone's life easier. I'd cast that actor again in a heartbeat! Wouldn't you?