Booked It! Now, What Do You Do?

Written by: Rachel Comeau

Date: February 5th,  2020

Being a day player for a film or television show is an incredible experience! You get all the rewards of being involved with a fantastic project and almost none of the stress. But being the new kid onset can be overwhelming if you are unprepared. Here is a breakdown of what to expect as a day player. Everything from what to bring and how to act when you’re not acting!

Wait to hear from production.

The world of film and television is fast-paced, and you can book a role at any moment. You may get that call from your agent two weeks before filming or just two days before the cameras roll! Shortly after, someone from The Production will reach out to you. Most likely, it will be the 1st AD (First Assistant Director). They will be your main point of contact until the day of the shoot. If you have questions, ask them.

Get ready for your fitting. 

Before you start shooting, the head costume designer will contact you to schedule a fitting. Depending on your booking, fitting can land anywhere from a few days before, up until the day of the shoot. You will be trying on lots of clothes so groom yourself! Take a shower and apply a thin layer of deodorant. Make sure to wear/bring appropriate undergarments. Stray away from anything with bright colors or patterns. Stick to solid white, nude, or black. Depending on the role, they might provide underwear but do not count on it. On the day of your fitting, they are going to take multiple pictures. Without going overboard, do your hair or add a little makeup to help suggest the character. And when they’re taking the photos BE IN CHARACTER. The whole point of the fitting is for production to determine which look best serves the story. So help them out a little. Plus, it gives you time to explore and get to know your character on a deeper level.

Pack a bag. 

First things first, PACK IDENTIFICATION. Your first day on set is your first day of work. You’re going to be filling out A LOT of paperwork, and a W9 included. So you know that “Form I-9 Acceptable Documents” thing? With List A, B, and C? Yeah, those things! They need those for you to start filming! So that should be the first thing in your bag! Now, it’s going to be a long day on set, so pack accordingly. A film set is stocked with almost anything you can think of, but you never know if they’ll be running short or what the quality is. You know yourself best. So use your best judgment. But, you could end up needing any of the following: a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, a razor, deodorant, eye drops, contact solution, phone charger, undergarments, a sweater, pens, pencils, highlighters, and/or stuff to do in your downtime. You know, just to name a few. You don’t want to be scrambling the day of so pack the day before. Avoid bringing any of your own makeup or face lotions. Unless you have an allergy or specified, the makeup and hair department will have all that.

Keep an eye on your email for the call sheet. 

The call sheet won’t be sent until they’ve wrapped production the day before. The anticipation can be brutal, but fear not – it’s coming. The call sheet will give you all the information you need. Your call time, the location, contact info, etc. Save it on your phone or print it out. Whatever works best for you. It can also be a great resource later down the line when you’re adding this excellent credit to your resume!

Wash Yourself!

Seriously. Take a shower. Wash your face and hair. Arrive on set completely bare-faced (free of any makeup or lotion) and hair dry.

Report to base camp

It’s finally the day of the shoot! On your call sheet you will find an address for base camp. That’s where you need to be. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get there. You’ll know you’re in the right area because there will most likely be a lot of trailers and tents. Honestly, look for anyone with a clipboard and a headset. They’ll point you in the right direction. Just introduce yourself, say what character you’re playing, and they’ll get you checked in with the PA (Production Assistant).  

Stay in your trailer. 

Once the PA has escorted you to your trailer, STAY THERE! They’re going to need you to fill out paperwork and accompany you to hair and makeup. So just do everyone a favor and be where they can find you. If you need to leave for whatever reason, let the PA know.

Copy paperwork for yourself and your agent. 

There’s going to be a lot of paperwork, but take your time. Read through it and fill it out correctly. Make sure the information in your contract matches the information they gave you in the breakdown when you originally auditioned. Make a copy for yourself and send it to your agent. There are a lot of great apps out there that convert your pictures into pdf files. That way, you can send it on the spot. Genius Scan is a great one!

Read the script.

When you get to your trailer, there will be a script or sides waiting. Be sure to read your scene. This is the most updated version of the script. If any last-minute changes were made, that’s where you’ll find them.

Prepare to wait

 You could be waiting for a long time. So bring something to keep yourself active. Crossword puzzles, sudoku, a book. Whatever works for you! It’s just important to stay alert. 

Go to set. 

When production is ready for you, they’ll escort you to set. They may take you straight to set or take you to the greenroom. Eventually, you will meet the director and your scene partner(s) for a rehearsal. Once the scene is finalized or headed in the right direction, the crew will be invited to watch the scene. If it’s a simple shot, they may jump straight into filming. If the shot is a little more involved, they’ll take the actors back to the green room so the crew can make their final adjustments. Then, they’ll escort you back to set, the director calls action, and you do your thing!

Read the room.

It’s exhilarating to be on set. Just keep in mind, everyone is there to do their job, including you. If they’re taking the initiative to talk to you or being receptive when you talk to them, great! Make that connection. If people seem quiet or withdrawn, just let them be. You never know what they’re going through, and it’s best not to distract anyone from their job. You already got the part. No need to impress anybody but yourself. 

 Rachel Comeau is an actor living in Orlando, Fl. She has worked simultaneously on stage and screen. Some of her most recent credits include companies such as National Geographic and A24. She studies ongoing at Class Act Studios and is represented by Lock Talent. She is a proud graduate of Rollins College where she earned her BA in Theatre Arts under a prestigious performance scholarship. 
Photo credits:
Photo by Kate Kalvach on Unsplash
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash