Top 5 Things to Know Your First Time on Set

Digital Camera on student film set.

For all the Film and Cinema Arts students out there: Your first time on set can feel super intimidating! But there is an important thing to remember: you’re here to learn! Here are a few bits of advice I have for you to remember your first time on set!  

1. Chain of Command

Research the film chain of command. If you’re a production assistant, which is often the first role you’ll have on a film set, you may report to a variety of departments. If you have a different role, do a quick Google search so you know who to report to and who can answer any questions you may have.



A group of about ten Pathways Honors student standing in a circle introducing themselves to one another. It is a crisp, fall day.

2. Network with other students

Being on a student set is the perfect time to network with other film and acting majors! Keep note of who you think would be great collaborators in the future. Make sure to get their name, concentration and contact information so you can reach out about future projects!




3.Research safety practices beforehand

Read up on set safety practices before arriving. In order to make great projects you have to have a safe set! A few important things to note are watch out for tripping hazards and do not touch hot lights! Also be sure to stay hyrdated and snack on breaks. Set days are long so you need to make sure you’re staying healthy! 


A picture of a large inflatable snowman at the DePaul University Ugly Sweater Party.

4. How to treat actors

It’s very important to respect actors when on set! Many of them are students as well, and this may be their first project! If you’re a PA you may be tasked with running lines with them. I like to have my actors arrive early while we’re setting up so they can run lines together and be comfortable before we shoot.

5. Be understanding of creative differences

You’re not always going to agree with the creative vision of a project. But if you are not the director, it is not your call. While you can suggest things to improve upon, be respectful and mindful of creative differences. Your time will arrive to call the shots, and to bring your own vision to life.