A Typical Day on a Student Film Set

21 March 2012

Not all colleges have film schools.

Some have film or communication departments or film classes, but only a few have prestigious studios, back lot, and RED cameras available for rent. These are just a few things that big name film schools like (cough) USC, UCLA, NYU, and Dodge College pride themselves on supplying.

If you’re thinking about applying or transferring to film school, and want to know exactly what goes down on a student film set, you’ve come to the right place.

Many of these productions have actually really high production value, great performances, and professional cinematography. This isn’t the work of amateurs, but this hour-by-hour guide, as told from the point of view of a production assistant, is here to show you that set isn’t for professionals either.

5:00am-6:00am
Why is it so friggin’ early? It’s dark outside; there’s no way they’re going to be able to shoot anyway. Why am I here, I should be in bed. There had better be coffee on set.

Yeah! I’m a grip. What do you need?

6:00am-7:00am
I would not have volunteered to help out this weekend if I had known there was not going to be coffee. Why are these people so unprofessional?

7:00am-8:00am
I’m just gonna rest my eyes for a bit..a’egn;abjdfm

8:00am-9:00am
What? No, I wasn’t sleeping!
A stand in? I don’t even look like the lead. Isn’t the lighting going to be different on me cause I’m not black? I honestly can’t tell what their so fussy about, who even notices lighting?

9:00am-10:00am
I am so bored. Where was that couch. How many times are they going to do this one shot?

10:00am-11:00am
When’s lunch?

11:00am-12:00pm
Maybe people wouldn’t stereotype film students so much if all our directing majors didn’t wear berets, skinny jeans, pea coats, glasses, and stubble and carry around clip boards all day. Oh? We’re setting up another shot! Goody, maybe we’ll even be able to get a take-in by lunch.

12:00pm-1:00pm

When the camera you’re operating is worth
more than your car, you know you’re
on a student film set.

Pizza? Is this even allowed? Of course not the good sets never follow production rules. Maybe this is a good sign our producer knows what she’s doing after all. Then again, it means I’ll probably be here for sixteen hours instead of fourteen.

1:00pm-2:00pm
Do they really need me? I’ll just stand here by crafty and wait.

2:00pm-3:00pm
Whoever’s idea it was to bring Girl Scout cookies to set is a god.

3:00pm-4:00pm
Shit I’m so full. Why isn’t there anything to do but eat and sleep.

Yes! A job! I’ll do it!

4:00pm-5:00pm
I can’t wait to write home that I spent an entire day on a senior thesis just so I could turn on and off a fog machine. Can I put this on my resume?

5:00pm-6:00pm
You know, the lead actor is kinda hot. Too bad I only work when setting up and he only works when shooting. This must be why cast and crew is always segregated. Someday I’d like to see Brad Pitt end up with a gaffer. Then again, all gaffers are pretty hard on the eyes, so that’s probably unlikely.

What? Oh yeah! Definitely! I’m on it!

6:00pm-7:00pm
Would you like some water? Water? Snacks? Anything?
Dear airline companies. Always hire grips and PA’s to be your flight attendants. They have lots of practice.

7:00pm-8:00pm
Only three hours over the amount of time labor laws dictate we’re allowed to be here? Not bad! Except I would rather go cry in a corner then pack all this stuff up again and it’s so cold outside!

Yep! Bright and early tomorrow! Same call time! I’ll be there.

Maybe I should consider going into acting.

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