Tips for Supporting Artists on their first day at school
So you've signed up to Norf and the next thing you know you've been booked on to a popular television drama to play the role of a nurse, your blood is pumping because you know nothing about being a nurse and you're pretty sure you just missed your exit on the motorway.
Not to worry... This quick start guide will prepare you for your first day on telly.
1. Tick Tock
The old saying, 'Time is Money' is never more relevant than in the television and film industry. An hours delay to a production can cost thousands in the long run. If you have been booked onto a production by our team, be sure to plan your route effectively, be aware of peak traffic times and try to add a buffer so that you get there early.
Reliable SA's get more work, especially on continuing dramas such as Hollyoaks or Coronation Street where 2nd AD's like to repeatedly use artists for certain roles.
If you are ever delayed for reasons beyond your control it is always good to let either Norf or your 2nd AD know what is going on.
2. Unit Base
Each production has a different type of unit base. A unit base is where you will be dressed and glammed up with makeup before being shipped off to set.
Some productions run out of buildings and predominantly film on constructed sets that are attached to the premises whereas some productions run from a moving unit base which is made up of different types of trailers and trucks that help facilitate the production.
When you arrive at your designated unit base you will have to sign in. This is very important, you will usually be given the name of a 2nd AD (Assistant Director) or 3rd AD/Runner with whom you should sign in before attempting to jump in the breakfast queue.
3. The lingo
You will hear a variety of new words during your first day on set, most of these will be abbreviations, some will refer to people and others to requirements or actions.
Know your Lingo:
Stand by: Get ready...
Turn over: Start the camera and sound recording.
Action: An instruction for you and the artists to start doing whatever is scripted or you have been told to do in the scene.
Cue: A separate instruction designed to let someone know to begin their action, this is used when your action is supposed to come later in the scene and not on action. Sometimes the 1st AD will want you to start walking before action and therefore will use the cue; 'Background Action'. Not all cues are given audibly, some cues are taken from what other people are doing and some are a simple waving of the hand.
Going again/First Positions: we're trying the take again, please go back to where you started...quickly.
Lunch! Remember your positions/continuity: Make sure you are listening during takes! listen to the dialogue, know when you crossed camera or behind/in front of an artist and where you started from. Sometimes the scenes will break over lunch and they'll mention to remember your spot, make sure you do, if you know where you were and what you did after lunch the 3rd AD will love you and good feedback means more work.
Cut: End of take, stop action.
Step Off/Relax Off: A 3rd AD will usually ask you to step off, don't worry they aren't being abrasive, they just want you to exit set so the crew can re-position.
Cross: An instruction to cross behind or in front of the camera or action, for example, please cross Jon Snow to the right as he exits the castle.
Wrap: Thats it, end of the day, time to go de-robe, sign out and drive home. Always sign out before you leave.
Chit: A slip of paper detailing the role you played and what hours you worked. your copy is usually coloured pink like a receipt copy. Some productions now operate chit-less systems but if they don't, make sure you leave with your pink copy.
Ten-One: Arguably the most important of all, "I need to go Ten-One", is the industry adopted, polite way, of saying "I need a wee" (Don't worry, it's a blanket term for the other thing too.).
4 . The Roles
The most important roles you need to know are that of the people on the Assistant Directors team, contrary to popular belief, you will have more interaction with the AD's than you will the Director and sometimes even the Artists themselves. The roles are as follows:
1st AD: First Assistant Director, responsible for scheduling, keeping the production on time and assisting the director in achieving his vision.
2nd AD: Second Assistant Director, responsible writing the call sheet, managing the artists at unit base, booking SA's, managing logistics for the artists and assisting the 1st AD on keeping the production on time. (This role is not for the faint hearted).
3rd AD: Third Assistant Director, responsible for managing you, telling you where to be and what action to take in the scene, managing the runners with the help of the 2nd and generally being the 1st AD's right hand.
Runners: The runners will more often than not be your heroes, they will tell you where to go in the morning, they will help you with any issues you might have on set and they will make sure you don't commit any 'Faux Pas' on your first day like joining the lunch queue before crew. (We'll get to this later)
DOP - Director of Photography
PA - Continuity (Sometimes called Script Supervisor)
Design - Sometimes called Art Department, responsible for set dressing.
Makeup - They make you look good or awful, when required.