As an associate creative director, I come up with scenes and scripts for videos, commercials and digital content. Being on set for these productions is my favorite part of the job. Here are some things I’ve learned over the past decade:
- Pay attention.
This production is hopefully happening because you’re working to keep your idea moving forward. Even if it’s take 72, eyes wanting to roll away forever, force yourself to stay focused. Your concentration will help find a solution to the shot’s obstacles. If that problem happens to be your actor keeps getting bitten by an unruly sheep, there’s not much you can do except avoid writing sheep into future scripts.
- Silence your phone.
Sure, this should be listed under “All the Time, Everywhere” but it’s especially important in an environment built to capture sounds and visuals. You, and many people around you, may be trying to multi-task and get other work accomplished, but conference calls and text messages interfere with what’s happening in the moment. Not only can the best take be ruined by an electronic chirp from a pocket or palm, it’s distracting to people doing on-set jobs.
- Have feedback.
You may like everything that’s been shot, or hate every frame. But you should have a reason for these feelings and be ready to share if need be. Like Jim Rome said, “Have a take and don’t suck.” Just know that in such a subjective environment, what is said can be less important than who is saying it. If it’s smart, smart people will hear you out. But you may feel your thoughts being ignored if you’re inexperienced or not part of the creative department.
- Avoid carbs.
There is always something to eat nearby. Some sets have omelette chefs making custom breakfasts. Others just have bottled water and a barrel of pub mix from Walmart. But with so many snacks to entice you, it’s easy to convince yourself you’re hungry and go munching on garbage. Stick to protein and veggies at meal times. You’ll feel less lethargic and be kinder to your digestion. The last thing you want is to crop-dust the client. Proper eating also includes...
- Let the crew eat first.
If your job requires that you sit and watch a monitor in video village, allow those who are operating equipment to grab some chow before you. Not only are they expending the most energy, they’re handling your brainchild—ensure they’re as happy as possible. Jonathan Schoenberg, of TDA_Boulder, told me this one on my first “real” commercial shoot, and I still think of it every time I’m headed toward craft services for some M&Ms.