Understanding the essentials of film set etiquette is paramount when creating a streamlined production without any obvious hiccups. Our friends at Screencraft have provided a useful 6 step guide on helping your cast and crew learn about film set etiquette.
1. Mind Your Manners
2. Actors Stay in Front of the Camera
3. Only The Director Says Cut
In theory, the Director is the only person that says cut. It used to be that the camera-operator could say it, but that was back when the operator was the only person who ever saw the shot before dailies. The camera operator used to have great power back then because he was at the nexus of the filmmaking process. He was the only witness to the culmination of all filmmaking elements coming together; only he could see if the shot was hopelessly going awry. This gave him the power to say cut. Nowadays, almost everyone has an eye on the production monitor which has put the sole power to cut back in the Director hands.
The exception to this rule is for reasons of safety on set. If the First Assistant Director, (who incidentally is considered the primary safety officer on-set), sees that something is going wrong with the choreography of the shot, he is empowered to yell cut. This goes also for the Stunt Coordinator, but not limited to anyone who sees something dangerous unfolding on set. If you see something, say something.
4. Save Your Comments Until The End of the Take
5. Take Care of Each Other
Another job on set that’s tricky in terms of knowing when to speak and when to shut up, is the Script Supervisor. A Script Supervisor who is also referred to as Continuity is responsible for whether the shots will cut together seamlessly without any mismatches. They are also responsible for the actor saying the right lines from the script and for keeping track of all the coverage in the scene. It would be easy to announce when an actor or Director has made a mistake, but the best Script Supers will whisper with the actors if they are holding a prop in the wrong hand, or talk individually with the Director and D.P. if someone’s eye-line has been crossed. There’s no need to call each other out on errors when a quiet, calm word will do. Experience and unobtrusive efficiency is everything.
6. Learn The Unique Rules of Your Set
We hope that you’ve found these film set etiquette tips useful to run an efficient set. For more useful production hacks on set, take a look at StudioBinder’s Night Shooting Survival Guide.
Also published on Medium.