What are effective ways to keep everyone focused on set?

(Kyla) #1

so I’m working with a bunch of teenagers, which is honestly a really great time, but I have problems running my sets. when we’re doing a big group scene or a scene with extras, it’s hard to keep everyone focused and quiet, especially when we have massive time constraints.

I’m not big on yelling-- it’s aggressive and too loud for our school environment-- but I have had to turn to that just to get everyone under control and quiet. recently, yelling has stopped working, mostly because I’m a fellow student and I’m not as respected as an adult would be in this scenario, and because they’re so used to it now. for some recent shoots, if I call out “quiet on set”, people try to finish their sentences at the same volume they were, and they only shut up when one of our actors shouts “hey”, mostly because he’s loud and can be intimidating. him doing that means that they lose respect for me.

I need to figure out a way to get everyone focused and get situations under control without yelling and without deferring to anyone else to get things quiet. has anyone else had this problem or is it just a teenage thing? does anyone have any tips to deal with this?

happy holidays!

Trouble getting cast to focus
(Bri Castellini) #2

I say you use “hey” boy as an advantage. Work out a system where he does that and then you loudly say “Thanks [name]! Aaaand action!” As long as you’re in control/‘command’ of when ‘hey’ happens, it translates.

The other option is to just do your normal thing and then call action even if they aren’t ready and they’ll figure it out pretty quick. The first take might be a bit rough but people don’t feel shamed if they aren’t ruining something but just delaying it. They do feel shamed into shutting up if they ruin a take, though.

I feel like @HackettKate will have something to say here. Also calling in other lady bosses @OSTSG @ghettonerdgirl @Monica_Quinn @Monica_West @SecretLivesPS @hailstorm (Hailey is also a younger creator I believe so she might have struggled similarly recently)

(Amen J.) #3

Wow, that is tough. As an introvert, this sounds like a terribly painful situation and I don’t like yelling either. I like Bri’s advice, to have a second/third AD get everyone ready. At the end of the day, it’s about respect for the film, respect for you, and for everyone’s time on set. If they don’t know how to act properly, then they’re not going to get work on future sets, because that is not acceptable anywhere! I would explain this to everyone and say that if they are not cool with being quiet on set when asked, then they need to leave. You could have someone assist you with this, just to make it easier and keep everything moving along.

(Herman Wang) #4

When there are extras on set, I start off the shoot day with an introduction to cover the basics: thank you for coming, where the bathrooms are, etc. This is a good time to cover why it’s important to be quiet during takes.

Also, maybe get yourself a whistle and don’t be afraid to use it?

(Amen J.) #5

Yes, that is a good point! If you haven’t already done an overview like that, maybe they don’t realize set protocol and how it all works.

(Bri Castellini) #6

Whistle might be worse than yelling hahaha. This topic is hard for me because I love yelling. I used to work at a coffee shop with an apartment complex above us and in the morning when I would call out orders I would wake up people ten floors above us with my booming tenor.

The other thing is if you’re going to yell or whistle or whatever, don’t wait for them to listen. Just barrell through and people will pick it up. If there doesn’t seem to be space to argue or disrespect, people likely won’t take it unless they’re actively trying to piss you off, which I doubt will happen.

(Ghetto Nerd Girl) #7

My go to phrase is QUIET ON SET. You don’t have to yell but you should project. There’s a difference. I’m authoritative but not condescending. For me it gets the job done. I may have to repeat but it is effective.

(Ghetto Nerd Girl) #8

Sorry I missed the part where your cast/crew isn’t listening. I’d say use time constraints to your advantage. Tell them you’re behind schedule. Say, “we should be in scene x and we’re only on scene y.” Ppl usually want to go home on time then get their act together.

(Bri Castellini) #9

Oh yeah I like to lightly threaten people to keep them on task too. [loudly] “You want to get out of here before tomorrow morning? First positions and zip it! Aaaand, action!”

I also tend to work on pretty small sets, though, where it’s easier to zero in on problem people and just call them by name. “Oy, Jean, quiet on set my dude. Alright, everyone ready? Action!”

If you can identify specific people, call them by their name. Again, use shaaaame to your advantage.

(Ghetto Nerd Girl) #10

Lightly threaten hahaha. I may forcefully threaten but jokingly. Hahaha.

(Bri Castellini) #11

I just try to imagine myself as Lorelai Gilmore and things tend to work themselves out.

(Monica Quinn) #12

In your original post it sounded like you were referring to the crew and cast members.
If I were you I would rely on my 1st Ad to communicate to everyone that camera is ready and you’re going for a take. “Quiet on the set” is very helpful, and for the most part everyone knows what that means.
If you are talking about your cast and crew mainly… before each day I would set an intention with everyone on set. Call for a quick huddle up.
Tell everyone the expectations for the day. If it’s a quick day with a lot of pages and you need everyone to focus and stay with the pace of the production team say that.
If it’s a slower more relaxed day, but you need people ready to go on standby then say that.
Have an intention, and setting a good vibe creates a production where everyone has the same goal, is working together as a team, and if done well creates a major buy in from everyone even if their role in the totally of the creating of the film is small.
You are asking everyone to step into your boat. The reality is if they don’t you can always throw them overboard!
As for extras I would do the same thing but maybe in a separate room as your crew works. When I was reading the thread someone mentioned 1st day of school breakdown. Yes I agree, but be mindful of your tone. They are probably volunteering and giving up time. Who knows maybe they are pro actors doing a favor, but most likely they probably have some sort of career/ experience. They aren’t dumb. That said set an intention with them as well, thank them for their time, and remind them that quiet on set means quiet. Please explain that whispers and laughs, the buzz of a cell phone, the scratching of material, their damn breathing can be picked up by sound. Also, if sound picks that ish up… call it out! It’ll stop.
Good luck! You got this no doubt! The fact that you are even aware of the issue, and reached out for a solution means your heart is in it and you care!
Wishing you all the best

(Kate Hackett) #13

Teens are a different beast. They aren’t pros. You can’t expect “school behavior”… and even school behavior at that age is …

Being clear at the start of the day is a great idea. Lean on your “hey” guy. Schedule decently frequent breaks and let them know they’re free on their time. And perfect the “I’m waiting on YOU” face.

(Bri Castellini) #14

VERY important.

(Hailey Buck) #15

Indeed I have had this problem too! Dealing with teens (and college kids) as both friends and people who work for/with you is a very hard balance to make. I think the most important thing that helped me was accepting that I had to be the bad guy sometimes and stop the fun so we can work. I let a lot of time be wasted before I figured that out. Leadership just requires practice. And in the meantime use the Hey Guy to your advantage (maybe give him an AD credit so he’s psyched to help). I wish you all the luck and broken legs!

(Melissa Malone) #16

Wow! Sorry, can’t believe I just saw this!! Our series is all about working with teens so I feel your pain. Luckily for us, our teens are almost all insanely well behaved on set. Even so, everyone gets stir crazy after awhile and focus can spiral downhill fast.

For us, I find by the time “sound speed” is called and “camera rolling” the majority are quiet and back to focusing. However that’s not always the case on a set with a large amount of extras. I found when we filmed our big classroom scenes or high school party scenes the easiest way to get people to focus was a nice but firm, “Alright guys, let’s focus and get through this thing!” did the trick. Not getting angry, but reminding them that the sooner we focus, the sooner we move on is our best bet most of the time.

With our teens we make sure they have ample breaks for snacks getting a little chatting out of the way. While they are professionals, they’re also still kids which can be easy to get and is important to keep in mind. I often find taking a moment to make sure they’re well hydrated and fed goes a long way. This is true of adults and teens alike, tbh.

As far as working with your peers goes and having them take you seriously, I think being very clear from the beginning is important. If all that fails, @HackettKate said it best with the “I’m waiting on YOU” face. lol