SETiquette: 7 Things Not to Do on Set

Posted on: Apr 09, 2019

Production crew having issues on set, leading to delays.Photo Credit: Lia Koltyrina /

The importance of Set Etiquette cannot be stressed enough!

The first day of any project is a clean slate for most people (unless you usually run with the same crew), so it’s always a good idea to show caution. We asked our Facebook fans to give us some pointers for Set Etiquette (or SETiequitte for short).  With their help, and a few tips of our own, we have compiled a short list of 7 Things Not to Do on Set.  Whether it is your first show, or you’re a veteran of the industry, these tips might just keep you around for the next project:

1. Don’t unplug anything.

This is one of the biggest “don’ts.” Do not ever unplug anything –especially if you don’t know what you’re unplugging.  Whether it’s a 1K, a practical or the DP’s cell phone charger, don’t risk it! The amount of consequences are endless when you pull a cord out, from loss of audio, video or other on-set data to the loss of your job.

2. Don’t ask the PM, PC or AD “When will we be done?”

This not only looks unprofessional, but it might make the PM, PC or AD angry, and you won’t like them when they’re angry.  Chances are you might be the hundredth person to ask them this, so it’s better not to. If you’re new to the film and TV production world, you’ll learn that days on set can be very long and sometimes tough. Be respectful of everyone’s time and understand that the day’s work is done when it’s done. If you do ask the PM, PC or AD when you’ll be done, you might find your name mysteriously absent from tomorrow’s call sheet.

3. Don’t tell the animal trainer, “My dog can do that.”

Let’s be honest… no they can’t. If there’s an animal trainer on set, they’ve already got a lot on their plate by making sure the animals are fed and ready to do whatever it is they need them to do for the day. Watching them work and telling them your pet can do what they’ve trained the animal they’re working with to do is not a good look for you or the production. Be respectful of the animal trainer, and of course, the animals. They’re working too.

4. Don’t walk into the shot. If you do, act natural.

As a production crew professional, you want to do your best to stay out of the shot when anything’s being filmed. That being said, crew sometimes ends up in the shot when filming. If this happens to you, stay calm and don’t make it obvious that you’re not supposed to be there. Try to be as natural as possible and let the actors do their thing. You could still save the shot.

5. Don’t drink the last Diet Coke.

If you see one last Diet Coke on set, please find something else to drink unless you want to send the EP into a firing frenzy.  They are incredibly busy and have a staggering amount of work to do. There’s a chance that they might’ve had 2 hours of sleep last night and this is their fuel. Let them have it or at least don’t be the one to take the last Diet Coke, water, or last anything for that matter. Common courtesy counts.

6. Don’t ask for an autograph from the talent.

Just because you’re working with actors, sometimes very famous ones, it doesn’t mean that you get to meet them or have the right to ask them to sign something. You both have jobs to do to make sure that the production goes the best it possibly can. The actors have to focus on their roles, and you have to focus on your own responsibilities. Respect the talent, and they’ll respect you. It also hurts the credibility of the production crew and company if they have staff asking talent for autographs. Please don’t be that person.

7. Don’t touch equipment that doesn’t belong to your department.

Camera Ops touch cameras, Electricians touch lights and sound engineers don’t touch any of those things. If you see equipment that you don’t normally work with or know that it belongs to a different department than yours, please don’t touch or use it. If it appears to be misplaced, ask your department head or someone from the department it belongs to about it and they’ll know what to do. And don’t even think about taking the Key Grip’s C-Stands!

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