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Set Etiquette


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#1 Robert Tagliaferri

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 04:22 PM

Hello,

Just a quick question. How appropriate is it to introduce yourself to the actors? I know it's important to not distract the talent, but as an AC you get pretty close to the actors when you're taking marks, and sometimes it is necessary to communicate with them (a stop-and-go rehearsal, for instance). I always find it awkward, especially when working with unknown actors, when taking marks or trying to communicate with them, and you don't know their names because you haven't been properly introduced. It also seems like a quick introduction would make for a more pleasant work environment right off the bat. Obviously the DP would be introduced, but how far down the ranks does this go?

So what's the protocol on this?
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#2 David Regan

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 05:17 PM

I think there is nothing wrong with introducing yourself. As you said, you are often right next to them, have to get close to them for marks or measuring focus; them being comfortable and aquainted with you seems very sensible. I think when you are on set for the first time, when you get a chance, just introduce yourself as you are taking marks/getting focus etc...I always have introduced myself, (granted I don't work with celebrity actors) but I think it still applies for anyone, and it's not inappropriate.

Just my 2 cents
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#3 Max Jacoby

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 05:44 PM

Definitely introduce yourself, it also makes the actors more comfortable, especially if they are only there for a day or two. Just be sure to pick the right moment.
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#4 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 06:08 PM

Personally, I always considered it to be rude not to introduce myself, especially because you are entering what some people call "auric closeness", which means that you enter well into their "zone of intimacy" where humans feel naturally uncomfortable when someone totally unknown comes that close to them.

Especially for inexperienced, amateur or not well-known actors in independent productions, just establishing a social rapport is for mutual benefits. I worked on two projects where the cast were amateurs, and on one, the entire camera crew just worked around them as if they were set pieces, and it was obvious to see that the talent felt intimidated and uncomfortable. In another case, where the talent were children, the DoP introduced every crewmember to the kids and vice versa, and the production went formidably well.

I am, however, not sure how this would be handled when dealing with celebrity actors. It might well be that some would dislike a crew member approaching them in such a way. I know from my experience that this depends on that persons character: Gwyneth Paltrow was a charm, but another person that I prefer to keep nameless was making it clear that they weren't interested in bothering about you.

So as Max said, it's a matter of timing, but also about reading the character signs of the people at hand with your own social skills.
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#5 Dane Brehm

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 07:54 PM

Always introduce yourself for all the reasons stated above....Celebrities are pretty professional and if not instigated by you, they will typically introduce themselves. Some Actors even repsond to there "stage name".

I've had a Director flip out on me once for asking the Actors to step on there last mark while the Director was talking on his phone. He ended his call then asked me why I was talking to "HISSS Actors". I apologized for talking to HISSSS actors even though I felt it was within my job description on a 135mm at T2 to get a mark so that HISSS image was in focus. Some folks are hyper-heiarchal and want you to ask the DP to ask the Director to ask the Actor to step left 1 inch.

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#6 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 08:24 PM

Definitely introduce yourself, it also makes the actors more comfortable, especially if they are only there for a day or two. Just be sure to pick the right moment.

I completely agree. Many times it's hard to introduce yourself before the first take because there is a lot going on on set when the actors first arrive. Generally, I wait until there is a minute or two of waiting, or between setups to introduce myself. We in the camera department have to communicate often with actors, and sometimes we have to share very close quarters. If you haven't introduced yourself I'm sure it could be pretty uncomfortable.
Some actors (even some big name actors) introduce themselves before I even have a chance. I find that those types are often the easiest to work with and most professional.
On the flip side, there are some actors who are very unapproachable and therefore never get the names of the crew, and it seems that they don't want them. I find that these actors tend to have huge egos (deserved or not) and are generally the biggest pain to work with on a daily basis.
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#7 Hans Engstrom

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 07:49 AM

Always introduce yourself for all the reasons stated above....Celebrities are pretty professional and if not instigated by you, they will typically introduce themselves. Some Actors even repsond to there "stage name".

I've had a Director flip out on me once for asking the Actors to step on there last mark while the Director was talking on his phone. He ended his call then asked me why I was talking to "HISSS Actors". I apologized for talking to HISSSS actors even though I felt it was within my job description on a 135mm at T2 to get a mark so that HISSS image was in focus. Some folks are hyper-heiarchal and want you to ask the DP to ask the Director to ask the Actor to step left 1 inch.

Dane Brehm
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San Francisco/ LA


I have also worked for a director that considered the actors to be his property. He was a complete a**ho** and fired PA´s for silly things on a weekly basis.

I don´t know how to do it in US but over here I inform the DOP/operator and the F.A.D. that I need a minute to take some marks if it´s a diffucult pull. I also inform the F.A.D. if I need the actors or if I can do it with my 2nd or by myself. Most actors are nice to work with because they know how important it is to be in focus, just as it is to find their marks so that the lights hit them the right way a.s.o.
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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 12:03 PM

I faced this having given it no thought when working with, if not huge names, people you'd vaguely recognise. In each case I fell back on general politeness - Hi, I'm Phil, I'm the [role], extend hand - and it turned out OK.

P
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