5 Great Tips | How to Fight Panic On a Set in Absense of Shoot Details

Set of movie Basharam
Set of movie Basharam

Do You Know What Really Happens on a Movie or TV Set?



Congratulations! You are selected in an audition for a role in a movie "Zero To Hero". This is your first assignment as an actor, a real break in your career. You will be facing a camera for the first time and also visiting a movie set (location where shooting will take place) for the first time.
You became crazy with excitement when you got a call from a production house, but all they told you was "You are in" and "We will let you know the details later". 
However, you wanted to know everything- When and where I have to go? Whom I have to report? When I will get script? For how many days? What about the pay? When would be the rehearsals? You want everything well in advance and though you are right, that "Later" invariably never comes till the last day.
I have seen many first time actors getting terribly frustrated and mess up their performance while doing their first scene.
Therefore, be prepared to accept unexpected. You may not get any details till you reach for a set.
Each set is different. Some are friendly, some are not. Some move fast in some move slow. Some are fun, some not so much.

The following may happen though not necessary.


  • You may be probably informed the night before when and where to reach.
  • You wonder why they don’t tell you earlier. Now this may happen. Every day the 1st AD sits down during a break to determine what shots need to be done the following day and who is needed for those shots. But, they can't make the final decision until they know how many shots they completed on the current day. If they’re running behind they might have to push your scene to another day. Or, if they suddenly loose a location due to weather they might have to alter things. There are hundreds of  reasons why the shooting schedule has to be fluid and able to change at the drop of a hat. So, for that reason don't expect to get your call time or anything else until late the evening before. They put actors on hold for several days for a reason. They can never predict what will actually happen in a particular shoot day.  It's just common practice. If it’s 11PM and you still haven’t heard, maybe now you have a reason to be concerned. That might be the time to call to your coordinator or agent.

1. What to do after you get details of when and where to reach?



  • Once you get your call time and shooting location, it's your job to get there on time. In other words sufficient (and I do mean SUFFICIENT) of time to get there. Traffic is always an issue in Mumbai and the last thing you want to do is keep a crew, a director and millions of Rupees of equipment waiting for you. That's a surefire way to get you out and lose the role. Just because Salman Khan or Kareena Kapoor Khan shows up an hour late doesn't mean you can too. When you get that famous… still don’t do it!
  • Remember; don't bring a lot of stuff in your backpack. In a chaos which is common to a set, it may be misplaced or stolen. Ask somebody whom you are supposed to report. Usually it is 2nd AD. You're finally ready to start your first day of shooting.

2. What To Do Next?


The 2nd AD will usually tell you what to do first and where to go. Go to the room and don't get upset if you find a tiny room which is cramped up with unknown faces. Don't get surprised if there are non actors like mothers, sisters of actors or assistant makeup artist or sound guys present there.
Generally, you will do the following things before you head to the set. They may not necessarily be in this order, but they are:

  • You will get your lines and some time to memorize
  • Get into your wardrobe
  • (With small production houses, you may have to arrange your own dress and props)
  • Get your hair and makeup done,
  • Luckily if you get your lines in advance and if you have prepared it, 2nd Ad will check over your lines to see if you have memorized your lines correctly or not. Be prepared for a horror of lines being changed at the last moment!!
  • What about food? Don't worry, here Indian cinema definitely scores over Hollywood or Other International Production Houses. You will be fed well by most of the production houses with unlimited snacks, tea and coffee and sumptuous lunch or dinner irrespective of whether you are a "Star" or not.

3. The Camera Rehearsal


When the crew and the director are ready for your first scene, they will put you in place for a camera rehearsal. A camera rehearsal is where they block you (tell you where to stand and move) and run the scene so the camera crew can see what they're shooting and lighting. You will be asked to speak your lines with Co actors or without, may be with 2nd AD who will read outlines of the other Co actor. Remain calm as there will be a lot of commotion around you with adjustment of lights, someone pushing lapel mike under your wardrobe, few people shouting and running around you etc.
Be focused on your character and on your lines

4. Shooting the Scene


Be prepared to shoot the scene from numerous angles, numerous times. I've been on sets where everything is done in one take. TV Soaps are the perfect example and I've been on sets where it's common to do 20 takes from numerous angles. Again, you'll quickly learn about each shot. All you have to do is adjusting to it accordingly. Don't give away all your emotions in the long shots. Those are usually done first. Try to reserve most of your emotions for your close-up. Generally, directors will shoot the long shots first, in order to capture the whole scene with all or most of the actors. Then, they usually move in for medium shots. And finally, they move all the way in for the closeups. Keep in mind that most directors usually start shooting from one side of the set, where they do longer, the medium, and then the close-up and then switch over to the other side of the set to shoot the same series of shots from the other actor’s perspective.
Here you MUST remember and  repeat exactly what you have said or  movements you have made or props you have used in the first shot in the subsequent shots with different angles or for medium and close up shots. Of course, the exaggeration of facial expressions and physical movements will be comparatively subtle as you shoot from long shot to close up
One final word of advice regarding acting on-camera in the scene: this is your moment to let it all go, make it all about the chemistry between you and the other actors and enjoy what you're doing. You should have your lines down by now and all your homework should be put away. This is the time simply have a conversation with the actor across from you and enjoy the process of entertaining. That's when the greatest acting happens.

5. What Do You When You’re Done?


It's happened many times that after a director finishes shooting a scene they suddenly realize they need to shoot more, for one reason or another. It happens. Just be flexible and wait to be told what to do. On a set, the actors aren't the center of attention. The director and his shot list are the most important thing. Everything revolves around that list and what needs to be done in order to get all the shots. Wait till 2nd AD tells you that you are done for the day
( Based on the author's own experience and also based on the source)

1 comment:

  1. Informative post to read about shooting details till last.

    ReplyDelete

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