Being the new kid at school always sucks, but everyone starts from the bottom and everyone knows what it’s like to be the beginner. When you have little experience, common sense is your best friend and anyone in the film industry will tell you that a good attitude will get you far. Some people make it through pure skill and talent, but more often than not, personality trumps talent. Skills can be learned over time and talent is great but NOT everything.
When in need of some motivation, we always love to refer back to this post (by Shauna Haider of Nubby Twiglet), about getting ahead in a creative industry (which for her, is graphic design). It is so simple but so accurate and more importantly, it relates to EVERYONE, no matter what creative path you have chosen. We wanted to do our own masterpost – for the emerging artists about to dip their toes into the film industry.
“Showing up, doing the work and being gracious while making the lives around you easier will take you further than any advanced degree in your industry.” – Shauna Haider
How a good attitude can put you miles ahead of the competition
+ Be punctual and always arrive early. It’s the common rule of thumb when it comes to general etiquette but on film sets, the consensus is that if you are on time, you’re late. Always arrive earlier than your call time because you’ll find that there is still lots to be done to prepare for the day. Use that time to settle in, get a headstart on the day and familiarise yourself with the shooting schedule.
+ Show up and do your job. You are not there to look pretty and be in everyone’s way. You have been hired for a specific job and you should be doing that job efficiently and with care. Take pride in details and do everything you can to help your department streamline their work easily. Jump in when you are needed and keep out of the way when you are not. Make yourself busy and offer assistance when you have nothing to do. Idle hands are not wanted on a film set.
+ Be kind and respectful of others. It’s not rocket science. Don’t be a jerk. You will encounter a plethora of different personalities in the film industry, some good, others bad. Keep away from stirring drama and gossip, focus on your job and respect that everyone else is there to do a job as well. Word spreads quickly on a film set and stupidity or disrespect is seldom forgotten by others. Be pleasant without getting in people’s faces, and always speak when spoken to.
+ Make things easy for the people around you. Don’t plan to be a hero – just be present and focused on your task. If you are answering to department head, remember that your job is to make their life easier. If given a task, they should feel confident to remove that task from their brain once they have delegated it to you. Eliminate concerns when you can and take on other tasks if you think it will help the rest of the department. You should always be thinking ahead and thinking, have you done everything you can?
“If you are making other people aware of your presence by doing anything other than your job, you’re doing your job wrong.” – The Seven Arts of Working in Film
+ Always give your best effort, even on bad days. It’s okay to have a bad day. We all go through it. However, don’t make your issues someone else’s problem and don’t let it affect the working environment of those around you. Stay focused on completing your job in the same manner as you would do on a good day, and chat to others during your break if you need some support. Your department will be like a family over time.
+ Know when is and isn’t the time to ask questions. It’s important to ask questions when you’re starting out but be selective about how often you choose to bother your superiors. Think first. Can you find the answer without bothering someone? If you need to ask a question, make sure you choose an appropriate time to bring it up or if your department head is busy, ask your peers. Study your callsheet like a script, as many answers can be found on this document!
+ Develop a sense of humour. The hours are long and the days can often be tough, but that’s how crew members bond and form relationships. When the job at hand is hard, it is essential to have a sense of humour. Keep negative thoughts and complaints to yourself. Being able to have a laugh will make you more pleasant to be around.
There will always be people who are better than you, but a good attitude and common sense will put you ahead of the competition. Stay tuned for Part 2!