October 5, 2017

8 of the Easiest Ways to Get Yourself Fired on a Film Set

You did it! You landed that sweet film gig. Now, how do you keep yourself from getting canned?

The film industry is so insanely competitive that it's nothing short of a miracle to actually get hired to work on a set. If you're lucky enough to be one of these blessed individuals, don't sour the deal by doing something stupid enough to get yourself let go on the first day. In this video, Jay P. Morgan of The Slanted Lens goes over eight things that will absolutely get you fired if you work on a film set, from arriving late to not following proper setiquette.

Here are the tips Morgan mentions in the video:

  • Not showing up on time: On time is not on time. On time is late. Early is on time.
  • Not arriving prepared: Put the coffee down and make sure you've got all of the essentials.
  • Being too vocal about your own vision: The director doesn't care if you think a shot would look better a different way.
  • Being on your phone: Just...don't.
  • Just standing around: Make yourself useful. Anticipate needs on set. Stay close to your department so you're there if you're needed.
  • Making a beeline for craft services: Stay away from the food until you break for lunch. You're there to work, not eat.
  • Getting too chummy with the client: That's the director's job.
  • Leaving a mess: Be an adult. Pick up after yourself.

Though these rules can apply to many different roles on set, they are primarily directed toward production assistants. PAs have a tough job because they're basically there to make everyone happy. Somebody wants water? I got it. You need these cables wrangled? I'm on it. Your walkie is dead? Have mine! Being an assistant is really just about being a problem solver of the stupid little things that happen on set. It's not the time nor the place to get discovered or flex your director's muscles. It's not about bragging rights and having sweet stories to tell at the club later. It's literally about work. So if you're not there to work, you won't be working there for long.

Have you ever been fired from a film set? Share your horror stories down in the comments!      

Your Comment

8 Comments

That's a very nice recap. I have copied it and will add it to my next posting when looking for a PA.
These days, having a phone in hand instead of a pair of glove becoming a standart.

October 6, 2017 at 1:57AM

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visionrouge.com
DoP freelance cameraman 4K HK, Shanghai.
86

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October 6, 2017 at 5:05AM, Edited October 6, 5:06AM

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visionrouge.com
DoP freelance cameraman 4K HK, Shanghai.
86

I have one, my first set was no other than game og thrones S3. I got a job as a helping hand at craft. First day shoot a couple hours in this camera trainee comes to get some coffe for her mates and we start some smalltalk. She asks what i do ususally and I say camerman, she says to my disbelief that they need somebody to help them who knows a bit about all that. I say great and she walk off to talk to her bos. Couple hours later i get a call from my boss angry why I started this confusion and why am I talking to anybody bla bla. I almost got fired the first day from GOT. He says he doesnt know what will hapen and hangs up. You can imagine how i felt. Couple hours forward its almost wrap time ( thats when i heard the term haha) and I See my boss walkinh by with some sherpas. I Ask him, and whats it gona be? And he says, from tomorow you will do what you love ( camera department) and Deni ( this other guy) will take your spot in craft. They walk by and I Silently start jumping in the Air :) from hapiness. What a first day :) And drom that day i started as DIT asistant, basically cabling the cameras and sometimes i was second unit DIT. I gave my best, every day for 6 weeks. Next season they called in advance to make sure i was available :)

October 6, 2017 at 9:16AM

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Vladimir Miketa
Cinematographer & Editor
42

Things for Camera Dept that can get you fired
1) Formating the wrong card - Seems like a simple thing not to do but if you don't label the cards, don't have an on set DIT, and the crew is trying to rush you...
2) Not having enough batteries ready - I've been on shoots where I've gotten yelled at for not having plenty of batteries left.
3) Buzzing a shot on a high stakes scene

October 6, 2017 at 9:53AM

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Zachary Will
Cinematographer
617

Noob question, what does "buzzing a shot" mean? Haven't heard that one before.

October 8, 2017 at 9:22AM

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Missing focus.

October 8, 2017 at 8:52PM

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Casey Preston
Videographer
90

Here's one, pull together a cast and crew and make sure they all understand you are the "director".

Have no shot list, a script that is more of a short story outline, tell no one what you want done, then sit and watch everyone set up for the first take of the first shot on the first day.... and watch... and check your cell phone... and watch... Until one of the actors finally says to you "This is the point where you say "Action."...

By noon the actors revolted and asked someone else to be director. Great learning experience to watch someone else do that, but damn glad it wasn't me. That cast and crew will never work with that "director again, even though he gone on to get his MFA in film since.

October 6, 2017 at 5:53PM, Edited October 6, 5:53PM

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Robert W.
166

Early is early. You want people there 15min early, then thats the real call time and you are on the clock at that time. Sorry but that first ine is nonsense.

If you are not the director, dp, art director, producer or client nobody cares about your opinon unless its about something about to fall over

October 7, 2017 at 1:32AM

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Steve Oakley
DP • Audio Mixer • Colorist • VFX Artist
478

I disagree. If the call sheet says 8 am, that's when they want to start. If you turn up at 8 am then you are not ready to begin. Turn up at 7.45 am and you are. And besides, you don't know what the travel conditions might be like on the way to set. If you have timed your entrance to perfection for the call time and your car won't start then you are going to be late. If you plan to be there a bit early, you give yourself wriggle room.

October 12, 2017 at 3:23PM

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Ian Crook
Course Leader for BA(hons) Film Production, UCLan
1