Aspiring actors. This is what you can expect your first day on set. So we usually open the production week with a table read. This is when the writers, the actors, the producers, and the director sit around a table, and the actors read the script aloud for the first time together. This is so that the actors can acquaint themselves with the material and the writers can hear it so that we can do a rewrite based on what’s working, and what’s not working. Now, in your case, if it’s a small part, you will most likely not be invited to the table read because we have to pay you extra for that. And we know that actors don’t like getting paid extra money.

You will show up to set on your first day when your part plays, and you’ll be greeted by a PA. The PA will take you to your dressing room and then take you to hair and makeup. Now, if your part has a complicated line that I want to make sure you hit just right, then usually the Showrunner will show up to the hair and makeup and talk the scene out with you just to try and make sure that you’re on the same page, but more often than not, I don’t do that.

At some point, the AD will say, okay, scene 10 is up. You’ll be escorted on set. And the director will now read the scene aloud with the actors on set once more, and the Showrunner is standing by. And the point of that is just to familiarize yourself again, just to reacquaint yourself with the material. So we know what we’re playing. We’ll do that once or twice. Maybe you’ll get some adjustments, and some notes, they usually come from the Showrunner through the director and then the director will block the scene. And that means the director is telling you, okay, on this line, you go here. And then on that line, she sits down on the couch. So everyone knows where to be on the lines. That’s important for the actors of course, but also for the camera people so that they know how to cover you, so they know where to place the camera.

So everything’s on you know, on camera. Then at some point, this is not a long process, the AD will say, okay, the crew has the set. That means everyone has to get off the set. And the crew now is in charge of the hanging lights and, and placing cameras and moving cables. This can be a little dangerous. So you want to make sure you leave the crew, and give them the crew space to do their job. At that point, most actors will go off and run their lines. Some of them do it alone. Some of them do it together, but it’s not really a rehearsal so much as brute force repetition of the lines, just so that they can beat it in their heads. So they know what to say. So don’t expect too much work with the actors at that point. It really depends on what the lead actress’s preference is.

Then at some point, the ADA will say, Okay, scene 10 is up. You’ll go on and set, you’ll take your mark, which is where you can be standing. Then you’ll hear, “rolling”, which has the camera rolling. You’ll hear “speed”. Which means the sound is rolling. And then “action”, which means you’re rolling. Usually, we cover the scene first in a wide shot. Then we move into coverage. I’ll explain more about that in a future video and that’s it.

I am a working television writer and I’ve been doing this for 26 years. If you want more tips on being a working actor, screenwriter, or director, definitely follow me here. Like, comment, and subscribe @MichaelJaminwriter.

Michael Jamin, Showrunner, TV Writer, Author

Michael Jamin

For the past 26 years, Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner. His credits include King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Wilfred, Maron, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD and many more.

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