10 Tips to Surviving Your First Day on Set

Being on set for the first time can be a bit overwhelming. If you are preparing for a video internship, you will likely be spending some time there. From one video intern to another, here are a few things I’ve learned through the years.

  • Wear closed-toed shoes – Nothing hurts worse than having a hundred-pound cart or camera roll over your sandal bearing toes. Tennis shoes or steel-toed boots are the best way to go.
  • Drink lots of water – Because set life moves so fast, sometimes you won’t realize how easy it is to get dehydrated. Make sure you drink at least one bottle of water for every two hours you’re on set.
  • Wear work gloves – If you’re going to be touching lights at all, gloves are a must. There’s nothing like second degree burns during a 10-hour shoot, four hours from the nearest hospital.
  • Watch where you step – An active set will almost always have light, camera and audio cables lying around. Though a good set will gaff tape them to the ground, it’s still very possible to trip. Along with injuring yourself, tripping on cables can lead to equipment falling and breaking.
  • Don’t break anything – But if you do, own up to it. Everyone makes mistakes, and more than likely it will be something that can be remedied on set at that moment.
  • Find your point of contact – As soon as you arrive on set (or before if you’re able), find the person you will report to. This person will give you exact instructions on what your job responsibilities are and where you’ll need to go. Make sure you stay in your department so there are no holes in the crew.
  • It’s better to ask than to assume – Now that you know who your point of contact is, if you’re unsure about what you need to do, just ask. It’s better for the crew and the shoot to take a minute or two explaining something, rather than have you do it yourself and miss the mark.
  • Don’t talk when the director talks – Know whom the director is. When he or she speaks, you should be listening. This will often be a cue for the talent and/or for the crew. It’s imperative you hear what is being said.
  • Stay calm – Things move very quickly on set. Be patient, but ready to work. It might be a lot of “hurry up and wait,” but the more prepared you are, the easier your job will be.
  • Enjoy the madness – Being on set is a blast. Soak up all the information you can while you’re there. Watch how the director, producer and rest of the crew work. You could be in their position one day, so the more you learn before then, the better. If you’re enjoying yourself and the time on set, people will notice and want to hire you again.

– Victoria Fouke, Fall Video Intern

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