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What Really Happens On Set?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Part 1: Preparing for the big day

Congratulations! Your child has finally gotten a job and now you need to know everything about your day on set so that it can be a wonderful experience for both of you.

Your agent will have confirmed the job and sent you a CALL SHEET as soon as it is available to them. Some productions are very busy and cannot confirm the details until late on the day before you are required on set, but be assured that your agent will send you the necessary information as soon as they receive it.

The most important details for you to take note of are;

  • your CALL TIME (the time you are required on set)
  • the exact LOCATION that you need to be at (sometimes this is a building address, but it could be a park or other public place)
  • the CONTACT PERSON you are required to meet on the day (eg. in the case of extras for a television show this would be the name and phone number of the 3rd AD). You will also be given details of anything you are required to bring with you and how long you are expected to be needed for.



Research the location you are required to be at before you have to leave home. Sometimes the call sheet will provide you with instructions regarding parking and other times you will need to figure it out yourself.

Productions are busy and very costly, so it is important that you arrive at the time you have been called for so not to delay the shoot time or halt production. Arriving 10-15 minutes early is appreciated, but do not show up any earlier than this. If you arrive too early at location, take the time to relax rather than turning up and risking being in the way before production is ready for you.

Spending time with your child onset can be a great experience, but arriving unprepared can add a lot of the wrong type of drama to the day. Make sure you have any paperwork or items you have been asked to bring, but don’t take it personally if they don’t use it on the day. It happens often that they ask for items or information, just to change what they originally planned on the day and not ask for it or use it at all.

Depending on the job, clothes will be provided while you may be asked to supply your own outfits at other times. If you are required to bring clothes the wardrobe department will inform you of what is needed; often simple things like jeans, t-shirts and runners. In general, choose items that do not have any visible branding and bring a few options of each. Bright colours are often appreciated, unless told otherwise and avoid stripes as these can often bleed together and not look good on camera. Bring as many options as you think will be helpful and remember you can ask our casting department if you are uncertain about anything!

Taking some snacks with you can also save the day. The break times for meals on set can vary a lot from your usual times so have something handy to keep your child (and you!) functioning if that is the case. Catering on sets can be amazing and might be one of the highlights of your day, but it is not guaranteed that your child will like what is provided. Some productions regularly cater for children and may have an array of choices for them while others are used to looking after their adult actors and crew and may not have the things your child prefers to eat.

It is also a good idea to take toys or games to keep your child occupied, as you could be required to wait for extended periods of time before or during filming. The idea is to provide them with enough stimulation to keep them occupied, but ready to work when they are called on set.

Now you’re ready to go!

Glossary:

CALL SHEET: a document that your agent will send you from the production company, usually on the day before your job. It specifies what time you are required on set, how long you are expected to be needed for, the location you are to meet at, the name and phone number of the person you need to meet on set (or contact if you have any problems on the day) and other details .

CALL TIME: the time at which you are required to be on set. Always arrive at the location earlier than this and aim to find the person you are required to meet with 10-15 minutes before your call time.

3rd AD: 3rd Assistant Director. This is the person who is usually in charge of the extras on a television set and who you would be required to report to if that was your role for the day. For other jobs you might be asked to report to someone with a different role.

What Really Happens On Set? Part 2, will explore what happens once you arrive on the big day

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