Here are some tips on how to get hired again; or rather how not to get fired! Most of these are specific to Camera, but I’ll make a note if it’s different. You’ll notice that most of the comments relate to time. A difference in 5 minutes changes everything!
1. Arrive Early
Always arrive early. It doesn’t matter who you are on the set, make sure you’re there 15-30mins earlier than your call time. You never know what might happen. You waiting for people is better than people waiting for you. If you’re going to be late, or even THINK you’re going to be late, let them know – even if it’s 5 minutes late, let them know (with a calm text “Heads up, will be 5 mins late”). Time is money.
2. Be prepared!
Make sure your kit is prepared before you go to set, or when you leave set, it’ll be ready for you the next day. It’s tedious, but you’ll build it into your routine, and you’ll always be ready. You don’t want people waiting for you to get ready if you can prepare before.
3. Read the callsheet!
This document they send you the night before is key. It’ll tell you if you’re shooting exteriors/interiors, night/day, the weather, and a whole bunch of other useful information. Dress for the weather, prep for the weather, prep for flash lights or sunglasses, prep for explosions or blood splatter! The callsheet is a very useful tool.
4. Stay Organized
Again, this goes back to time. Make sure your cart and on-set is always organized so you or your assist knows where things are when you need it. Fumbling around to find something cause you didn’t take the extra 1 minute to put something away properly will WASTE time.
5. Do the Job right.
When you’re setting something up, do it right. If you’re short on time, still do it right. It’s your ass on the line if something goes wrong when you’re setting it up. You will not get in trouble if you take longer to do something right, but you’ll definitely get fired if you rush something and do it wrong, and have to constantly fix the problem. It might take you 5-10 minutes (which is a long time on set) to properly set up something, but it’ll save you an hour of having to constantly fix or adjust something.
6. Take care of your team and stay busy!
If you go get a drink, grab one for your team members. If you find yourself standing there with nothing to do, ask if there’s anything you can do. You can always organize stuff, clean things, charge batteries. Camera department is one of the only departments where you need to be ready before people tell you to. If they’re doing a long take, grab an apple box for the first and the operator so they can be comfortable. Things like this will get you hired again.
7. Help out, but not really.
You can always offer to help, but never do somebody else’s job. If you see a grip having trouble setting something up, offer to help, but don’t jump in and just help. You never want to make someone look bad on set. Don’t take someone else’s job away, they’re on set for a reason. I was camera operating on a show once, and the grips/electrics were unloading the truck, 6 floors down with a tiny elevator. I began helping the DoP set up some lights, but as soon as the grips/electrics came back, I dropped what I was holding and went back to my camera.
8. Have fun, but work hard.
People will probably hire you again if you do your job good. They will definitely hire you again if you’re fun to work with. People spend 12hrs a day with you, they want someone they like to work with. Joke around (appropriately), and have fun, but always make sure the job is first.
If you don’t know something, ask. The worst thing would be to say you’ll do something but do it wrong. If you mess something up, own up to it, they’ll find out that it was you eventually, however this also means to not dwell on a mess up, the team needs you present, not thinking about the past. If you want to learn something, ask about it – showing interest is always better than seeming apathetic. Besides, the people you’re asking usually don’t mind answering these questions anyway, it pats them on the back, and also keeps them sharp as well. Also, if you’re given a set of tools, work with it. Don’t complain about not having the best things – you could suggest solutions for the future, but work with the now.
Take care of yourself as well. Stay Hydrated. Stay limber Make sure you keep your energy up. Never turn down any opportunities unless you have to. And never forget the saying “You’re only as good as your last day.” Because it’s true. They will remember you the most for the work you did on the last day you worked.