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FILM SET PROCEDURES

from CINEMATOGRAPHY: Theory and Practice (Brown 2002)

• The director describes to the DP what shot is wanted first. At this stage it is
important to have at least a rough idea of all the shots needed so there are
no surprises later.
• The director blocks the scene and there is a rehearsal.
• Marks are set; focus is measured.
• The AD asks the DP for a time estimate.
• The AD announces that the DP "has the set"
• The DP huddles with the gaffer and key grip and tells them what he wants.
• The electrics and grips carry out the DP's orders.
• The DP supervises the placement of the camera, the lens, etc.
• When all is set, the DP informs the AD that he is ready.
• The director takes over and stages final rehearsal with the actors in makeup
and wardrobe.
• If necessary, the DP may have to make a few minor adjustments (especially
if the blocking or actions have changed), called "tweaking."
• The DP meters the scene and determines the lens aperture. When ready, e
informs the AD
• The director may have a final word for the actors or camera operator, then
announce that he or she is ready for a take.
• The AD calls for "last looks" and the makeup, hair and wardrobe people
swarm in to make sure the actors are ready in every detail.
• The AC rechecks every detail of camera operation.
• If there is smoke, rain, or fire effects, they are set in motion.
• When they are finished, the AD calls to "lock it up," this is repeated by
second second ADs and production assistants to make sure that everyone
around knows to stop working and be quiet for a take.
• The AD calls "roll sound"
• The sound recordist calls "speed" (after having allowed for pre-roll)
• The AD calls "roll camera."
• The first AC switches on and calls "speed." (If there are multiple camera it is
"A speed," "B speed," etc.)
• The first AC or operator calls "mark it" and the second AC slates, calling out
the scene and take number.
• When the camera is in position and in focus the operator calls "set."
• When applicable the AD may call "background action," meaning the extras
and atmosphere people begin their activity.
• The director calls "action" and the scene begins.
• When the scene is over the director calls "cut."
• If there are any, the operator mentions problems she saw in the shot and any
reasons why another take may be necessary, or any adjustments which may
make the physical action of the shot work more smoothly.
• If there is another take the AD tells the actors and the operator tells the dolly
grip "back to one," meaning everyone resets to position one.
• The second AC calls for "dial" (amount of film shot on that take) and makes
his notes on the camera report.
• If there is a need for adjustments, they are made.
• Rinse; repeat.

A working set is no place for idle chit-chat, or as a great AD used to say, "Tell your
stories walking."