You booked the role! Now, KEEP it!

“Early is ON TIME. On time is LATE. LATE IS FIRED!” This terse trio of sentences is the actor’s mantra for fuming behind the wheel stuck in traffic or squeezed-in on a slow-moving streetcar, trying to get to set. The best way to keep your blood pressure low and your good reputation intact is a calm call to your agent or the 2nd AD as soon as you suspect you’ll have difficulty making your Call Time. This is essential for production when you are in circumstances beyond your control. However, chronic lateness will always be noticed. Book the next gig; don’t make lateness a habit!

New ACTRA members may still be figuring out who everyone is on set. Who is that 2nd AD anyway? That’s the person who emails/texts/telephones your Call Time for confirmation and answers the set cell. Especially important to know are Directors, Directors of Photography, Script Supervisors, Sound crew, Hair, Makeup and Costume departments with whom you will be working closely. Referring to names on the Call Sheet forwarded to you by the 2nd AD, or the one available at the Background Holding sign-in desk, is not only polite, but the best way to prepare yourself for a day on set.

Most of us know “The Big Cheese” is the director, and actors want to please this person the most! Newbies may be surprised to discover how little interaction they may have with directors when cast in smaller roles. Often it is the 1st AD relaying information to performers in speaking roles, the 3rd AD who communicates with BG performers, while the director remains behind the monitors set up in “Video Village” (“V.V.”). The 1st AD calls out “Lock It Up,” “Speed Sound,” “Background Action,” “Hold the Work,” “Action” and “Cut.” (Sometimes the director will call “Action” and “Cut.”) Also found in V.V. is the Script Supervisor or Continuity who is in charge of timing each take precisely and keeping track of which takes to keep or print. This person may approach you to correct a line delivered incorrectly. NEVER stand or walk in front of the monitors in V.V. and remain QUIET near this area. Actors may be invited to review takes on the monitors. Unless invited to do so, please don’t. Respecting the intense work being conducted in V.V. will always please your director.

Actors will encounter a member of the Sound crew when having body mics attached to their costumes or directly on their skin. If it is necessary for the body pack cord to be fed through your costume, or placed in a private area, the crewperson should hand the mic to the actor to access the best route and attach it themselves. In some cases, if costuming is cumbersome and complicated, a costume crew member will be on hand to help with this task. No crew member should touch your body without your consent.

“Good Morning,” “Hi!” “Please” and “Thank You” go a long way on lengthy production days. One of the best impressions you can make with your Hair and Makeup team is to ensure you’ve finished eating before seating yourself for processing. (Of course, your EARLY arrival makes this easy to accomplish.) Unless given direction to arrive “camera-ready” or requests for facial hair, every actor should present with washed hair and clean face, free of make-up or hair products. The costume department always requests nude-coloured underwear for all performers. This is especially important at costume calls. Every working actor should know that hanging their costume back on hangers and returning watches and jewelry into their bags is their job, not the job of the costume department.

Finally, there are a few key reasons a performer could be let go from a production. The IPA requires the performer to arrive on set with their lines memorized. Should any ACTRA member seem to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may be dismissed. Posting any production details on social media before the show’s first airing or screening can cause, and have caused, performers to be disciplined. NEVER share titles, performers’ names, locations, character names, scene descriptions and any on-set/trailer/dressing room photos before release. Be proud you’ve booked the gig, but please wait to share the details until you have permission.

Karen Ivany is ACTRA Toronto’s Ombudsperson, teaches the Respect on Set course and has volunteered as an On Set Liaison Officer (OSLO). Recently she appeared on Dark Phoenix, Orphan Black, The Kennedys: After Camelot and Poltergeist. She also teaches in the acting program at Second City and does private coaching.