In this season of being thankful, it’s time to reflect on some of the simple things that make set life easier to manage:
1. Late Call Times
Let’s been honest. Most call times SUCK. Projects take time to set up. Lights need to be installed, cameras built and blocked, makeup applied, sound checked, lines rehearsed. All of this means early, early early arrivals. Usually when most civilized people are blissfully asleep. Sure, the traffic and parking can be a breeze, but at what cost? Once in a while though, there is that glorious late morning or early afternoon call time which feels like heaven itself. 11am or 2pm never looked so nice. For that, we can be thankful.
2. Catering That Changes
Long days on set burn lots of energy which must be refueled. Like it or not, unless you plan on brown bagging all your meals, you must eventually see what catering has to offer. Sometimes, it can be great, like taco stations or BBQ. Other times, and most people in TV know this, its the dreaded coldcuts and wrap platters. Nothing against any of these foods but when you eat them for a week or month straight, turkey and ham feel like torture. Changing the menu whenever possible is a great quick way to boost morale.
There is a certain hierarchy that is unspoken. Big stars and execs get a wide berth when they first come on set and it’s up to them to close that barrier down. Many are more than happy to, with a warm smile, handshake, conversation or even just a greeting. Yet, there are just as many who are indifferent to literally everyone around them and can make the crew and even other parts of the cast feel like they are beneath them. Sadly, the second group seems to be more and more common, especially in the world of reality TV which makes those who do remember that we’re all human that much more precious.
As mentioned, cracking a joke is a great way to bring everyone together. It’s also a perfect way to keep the tension levels low in a high stress job. Obviously, there’s a time and a place for it, but on just a normal day or in a normal scene, finding the humor in a situation really can make the difference. Sometimes, it can come from the most obvious place, via the star or a comedian in the project but usually the biggest laughs come from unexpected sources, such as an actor who everyone thinks is extremely serious but ends up being a goofball like Sir Patrick Stewart. Laughter is the best medicine and it can make even the toughest day fly by.
We live in an information heavy age and can hardly ever disconnect. Being constantly plugged in has its advantages but it can be a huge burden on your wallet. As mentioned several times before, the smartphone has become an essential piece of life on set when downtime will come early and often. All that browsing and texting can eat away at not just your battery but your data plans, so whenever a location or studio has a wifi signal that can be accessed, it’s like hitting the lottery.
6. Indoor/Location Shoots
Just like with food, variety can be the spice of life. There is certainly something to be said for the consistency of always going to the same set or studio but whenever a show or project takes you on location or to someplace new, there is a renewed focus and vigor.
Likewise, for those who often have to work outdoors, usually the sports, music, and live news crews, it is music to their ears when an event is happening inside. Finally, the rain gear, heavy boots, layers upon layers of clothing can all be discarded and the temperature controlled bliss can be enjoyed.
This industry is full of people who are scared they will be replaced. They are constantly on guard when someone new arrives because they fear it could be THEIR job on the line. So when help or training is required, the bare minimum is put in to protect themselves and get the new person out. That’s why it is so wonderful when people are able to look beyond themselves and give their time to those willing and eager to learn. Any job can be cherished and handled with care so the best way to build a legacy is to provide guidance for the future generations to carry on the good work with help.
8. Good Fortunes
Most of all it’s important to be thankful and grateful for the opportunities we all have to work in this business. The chance to help create, inform, provoke, educate and entertain an audience regardless of medium or form cannot be taken for granted. For most people, this field represents the fruits of our labor, the passion involved and time put in must be taken with pride. It is a skills industry and we must always be thankful that we have those skills and the chances to make them flourish.
Even more importantly, we must all be thankful for our families and friends who understand our crazy lifestyles. Between the call times, long hours, stress levels and so much else, they still find it within them to love and cheer us on. Never forget them and give them as much love and support back whenever you can. That’s something we can all be thankful for together.