written by Keaton Evans
YOU SHALL NOT PASS… if you’re an actor who is guilty of the following things you shouldn’t do on a film set.
I have seen some of these things on set and it’s definitely something to look out for as an actor. Unless you want a wizard to jump into your path, scream in your face, and block you from proceeding, don’t do these things when working on a film set.
- Be late
A wizard is never late for anything, neither is he early, he’s simply a wizard! Now that might not be exactly as you remember Gandalf saying it, but it stills rings truer than The Hunchback of Notre Dame, that ol’ dope. That is, don’t be late!
If you are late then you waste everyone’s time, and in film, time is money, and money is everything, and everything is time. Be early to things, like five minutes. It shows courtesy to everyone who has devoted so much time and money to bring about the film, and it shows that you are responsible and will help you in getting more roles. When people see that you are responsible they will want you on their set.
- Touch equipment
A wizard never touches equipment unless it’s a staff or a ring or a sword or a… you get the picture. A wizard, or at least the B.A. wizards like Gandalf, never touch anything they don’t need to or are required to touch.
Like wizards, actors shouldn’t touch anything on set but the props they have in the particular scene and the food from craft services. I’ve found it to be quite tempting and easy to see a crewmember struggling with something and you’re there and can easily help, but you shouldn’t, because of liability reasons and you want to avoid any accidents that can potentially come with handling equipment.
- Make loud noises
The third thing that we shouldn’t do on set is make loud noises. On set there are many departments, and the members of those departments need to have good communication with each other. So if you are off on the side waiting for the next shot and you are screaming or laughing really loudly, it will be disruptive for the crew who are still trying to work to get the shot looking just right. Take a tip from the book of wizards: the quiet approach is the best approach. Especially if you have to sneak up on some mountain trolls.
- Have an attitude
This one goes without saying. Gandalf’s attitude during the whole journey was impeccable, except for the part where he screams at Pippin for being, and I quote, a “fool of a took”. And like the mustachio woman we see above, attitude can happen on a film set. Naturally people are tired from shooting and actors can become tired from rehearsing and shooting the same exact take, over and over again. But still, don’t cop an attitude towards the crew, the director, or your fellow actors. We’re all in the same boat on a film set. We’re all here to make film and to create artistically. So don’t ruin the atmosphere by pulling an attitude.
- Direct other actors
If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a million times. Actors giving acting advice to other actors. It is supes tempting to do, I know. We are all guilty of doing it. But Merry and Pippin never told Frodo what to do, so we shouldn’t tell other actors what to do. The director is there to direct actors. We gotta let him do his job.
If the actor gets advice from fellow actors and then opposite advice from the director then that poor actor won’t know who to listen to. Same applies to the rest of the crew as well. Let the director direct, the actors act, and the swans swan. Being on set is going to be different than being in an acting workshop. On set you focus on all that you have done to create your role and not on the other actor’s performance.
#wanderlust am I right? No! Not on a film set. You as an actor have a place and a purpose and sometimes your purpose is being in your place. On set you will always have something to do. Even if that thing is waiting. If you do have to wait, then wait. Don’t wander away. You might get distracted by something happening off set or whatever you’re getting distracted by, remember to be in the place you are supposed to be in. It can be very frustrating when an actor isn’t where they should be when they’re called to their first position.
- Seek acting help or advice from anyone and everyone
This point goes with #5. Just as you do not give advice to others, don’t seek it from others. It’s even best not to seek too much advice from the director, or seek feedback, that is. The director will tell you whether he thinks you should change something, and if he doesn’t then usually it means he liked it. But yeah, don’t go looking for feedback or advice from the crew. Their job does not involve that in anyway, neither does yours.
- Hold in questions
Holding in a question is a lot like holding in a 10/1. You just gotta let it out. If you have a question about your role or something related to what you are doing and it’s not obvious in the script then ask the director. In most cases he will be glad to help. But if you hold in the question and the take goes horribly wrong because you and the director weren’t on the same page then don’t be surprised if you wake up the next morning with no gig.
Be like the BA wizard Gandalf. Don’t follow these steps and you won’t go wrong.
With these steps in mind…or out of mind, technically, you will avoid the major pitfalls of the modern film actor. Some of these points might seem kind of obvious, but be sure to take each one into account. Avoiding these steps will not only make you a better actor to work with, but it will also show that you know your way around a film set.