On Set Protocol

Just got sent the “Guidelines for Extras” from Denise Gibbs, who runs local casting company Foreground/Background, providing extras for numerous locally shot productions. As many of these apply just as readily to aspiring stunt folks as they do to extras, I figure it’s worth passing on:

It is best to always be as prepared as possible for your
day on set. Having a good breakfast, giving yourself plenty of time, packing snacks and reading material, dressing warm and bring plenty of fluids and oh yes bring COMFORTABLE shoes and warm socks.

Always bring AT LEAST three wardrobe options for our wardrobe department to look through as well as props that you would normally have with you: purses, bags, cell phones, travel cups, reading material etc…

ALWAYS stay away from anything with a LOGO. NO LOGOS is the rule of thumb. (For clothes and props)

Also with wardrobe the usual DO NOT’S are: No logos, no all black, no all white, no red, no crazy colors, no crazy patterns. Background extras are supposed to blend into the background unless you are asked
to wear or bring something specific.

If you are quiet and respectful on set you should have a fun time.
Listen carefully for direction of what to do and be kind to everyone you meet.

Guidelines for Extras
“Extras give scenes background reality”

• Be on time. This is very important. It may seem like you are early, but it is important that we have everyone checked in and there at the same time to keep the shoot on schedule. Remember the motto
for film: “Hurry up and wait!”
• Bring a change of clothing (or two, or three), so as to give Wardrobe the option of mixing and matching.
• Bring a sack lunch; eat before you come. Craft services may provide minimal snacks but not enough for a meal.
• DO NOT bring any friends or family with you unless they are an approved extra. Exception: If you are a minor, your parents must be present.
• THERE WILL BE A LOT OF DOWNTIME! Patience is a must! Bring something quiet to do, such as reading, crosswords, paper for writing, crochet, sewing, etc.
• No cameras or recording devices are allowed. Leave them at home (besides, leaving expensive toys around set is not advised).
• Cell phones must be turned OFF. Leaving them on vibrate does not count. The sound equipment is very sensitive and can pick up the sound of incoming calls on their equipment.
• Make sure you sign an extras waiver before being put on set.
• If you have a question, ask the Extras Coordinator. It is their job to answer your questions. If they do not know the answer, they will find someone who does. Everyone else on the crew is very busy doing their job.
• Please stay in the staging area (background holding) until called on set. No wondering around the set. Stay with the group. Sometimes extras get called on set at a moment’s notice.
• Please let the Extras Coordinator know where you are going at all times (bathroom, etc.).
• Keep talking to a minimum level. At times you will be asked for complete silence and all noises must stop – conversation, walking around, etc. The boom mics pick up EVERYTHING, and any excess noise risks ruining a take.
• No smoking on set.
• No alcohol or drugs!
• Obey privacy rules. What is seen and heard on set, stays on set.
• Never approach crew members when they’re working.
• NEVER speak to the actors. Respect their craft and the intense focus they must have to stay in character. Absolutely no pictures with the actors! Please respect their privacy.
• Listen for cues such as “Takes up!”, “Quiet on the set!”, “Roll Camera!”, “Room Tone!”, or “Rolling”.
• Don’t talk when on set unless the Director asks you to. You don’t want the person with the speaking part to be drowned out.
• Never cross in front of the camera unless told to do so by the Director. The camera crew may be setting their focus.
• Never look at the camera! Pretend it’s not there.
• Try to be as natural as possible in your scenes, so as not to bring any attention to yourself (unless the director says otherwise).
Extras are for background and fill the ambience of space.
• And finally, remember that there is no guarantee that you will end up in the film. About 2/3 of the footage that is shot ends up on the cutting room floor (maybe even more), so do not be upset if you aren’t seen. There could even be a chance the Director decides not to put you in the scene at all. Such is the life of a movie extra.
Everything is up to the Director’s discretion.

Substitute “stunt coordinator” for extras coordinator and it pretty much all holds up…


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