During a production, hurry up and wait can leave you with tons of time in which you have little or nothing to do.
Many opt to keep it that way and do nothing at all, but the reality is there’s always something that needs to get done.
So if you think you’ve exhausted all your ideas for what to do during downtime on set, then take 27 of mine.
1. Organize equipment. Have your cases been hastily put away or strewn about in the staging area?
2. Clean cases. They can easily get dirty when shooting on location.
3. Clean gear (like lenses).
4. Defend the camera cart. Don’t put up with camera cart abuse.
5. Catch up on paperwork. Falling behind on camera reports is a downward spiral.
7. Improve a piece of gear. If you don’t feel like making something, take an existing tool and make it better.
8. Offer craft services for those in your department. You’ll be greeted like a desert mirage when you return with drinks and snacks.
9. Offer to help another department. Looking to put on another hat? This is a good way to introduce yourself to new skills.
10. Change and charge batteries. With batteries, you’re always playing catch up. Take a moment to stay ahead of the game.
11. Help out as a stand in.
12. Check footage or load magazines. If you’re shooting digital, check how the data downloads are going. If you’re shooting film, load magazines to prepare for an upcoming round of filming.
13. Refill expendables. Check to see how low supplies are and if you need to order more.
14. Perform minor maintenance on gear. Handheld handles been jiggling all day? Quick release plate not quite tight enough? Use this time to make tweaks that will make filming go smoother.
15. Prep the slate. You can never write those numbers and letters too perfectly.
16. Plan an elaborate prank. Just don’t make the same mistake I did.
17. Take some production stills.
18. Pick an object, guess its distance, and measure it. Accurately guessing distances helps tremendously when you have to pull focus without marks.
19. Teach yourself the subtleties of the slate.
20. And while you’re at it, make the alphabet your own.
21. Make some new friends. Converse, listen, ask questions. Veteran crew have a lot of knowledge to share.
22. Mentor a PA who’s interested in your job. Filmmaking is all about collaboration, so help an enthusiastic PA get a leg up.
23. Learn to rip paper tape and tab it at the same time. The amount of time this saves when you learn it is ridiculous.
24. Check the gate on the camera. Be positive it’s the gate, not the gauge, before moving forward.
25. Check it again. You can never be too safe.
27. Practice operating the camera. Because we all have dreams…
Did I miss anything? How do you keep yourself busy on set? Let me know in the comments!