10 Annoying Things on My Set Pet Peeves List
A large group of people working together as closely as we do in our industry is bound to generate a few pet peeves. Tack on a few decades of working in the industry, and you have the pet peeves list found here.
I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for all the work and friendships I’ve gotten through working on set, but some folks could behave better at work for everyone’s peace of mind.
Here are ten annoying things on my set pet peeves list:
- Non-stop talking on set.
The non-stop talkers usually don’t speak quietly, and the endless chatter is a real headache maker, especially when everyone’s tired, stressed, and overworked.
Please do us all a favor and take social conversations off the set. There’s only so much ibuprofen I can take in one day before my head explodes.
- Playing the blame game.
We’ve all seen this one, and nothing is more demoralizing than being on the short end of that stick.
If you make a mistake, own up to it and move on. People will respect you much more for doing that than for blaming others to make yourself look good.
Taking responsibility for failures and successes is a true sign of leadership. Be a leader, not a blamer.
- Having a bad attitude.
In a crew of fifty or so people, there’s probably at least one with a bad attitude, and it usually has nothing to do with the work. The lousy attitude follows these folks from one job to another.
It can be incredibly irritating to be around them, which is why bad attitudes are on my pet peeves list.
- Not getting extra help when we need it.
On big shooting days with lots of actors, extras, and equipment, many departments need extra help, and they deserve to get it.
On big days, understaffing costs time and money, and it may also compromise safety, if people are rushing around trying to do the job of several people.
Competent producers and UPMs know this and budget accordingly. Those are the ones I want to work with.
- People glued to their phones on set.
I remember a time in the distant past when the only phone on set was a stage phone on a roller stand with a red light. Ah, those were the days.
Yes, having a personal phone on hand is convenient, as no one has to take a break to use the stage phone. But it goes on my set pet peeves list when people exclude all else to stay hooked to it.
It makes me miss the golden days of pagers.
- Yelling on set.
Some people like to yell at others on set to humiliate them. It’s their way of communicating. I worked with those types when I had to as a trainee, but I wouldn’t do it again.
I’m over dealing with people who have no emotional control. Today, some publicly call out that behavior as abuse and demand it stop.
More power to them.
- Soliciting on set.
I’m a big fan of girl scouts and their cookies, but the girls themselves should be selling them, not their parents. So if you ask me to buy boxes of cookies from you on set, the answer is no.
That goes for the magazines and candy sales that supposedly benefit schools, too.
Soliciting for causes puts people in an awkward position and doesn't belong on set.
- Asking when we’ll wrap.
If we’re on the martini shot, I can probably give you a pretty good estimate of when we’ll wrap. Before that, no one knows.
Our industry is not known for its short workdays, so it’s best to assume every day will be at least a twelve-hour day.
Background actors, there’s no surer way to piss off an a.d. than to ask them when we’ll wrap, then tell them you thought it would be a shorter day and announce that you need to leave early.
If you have other obligations, don’t take the job.
Wrap time is when you hear “It's a wrap” on set.
- Disappearing from set without letting an a.d. know.
I know, you’ll be right back, but someone may need you before you get back, which means we need to know where you are.
Kudos to all the actors and background actors who are pros, and always make sure to tell us when you leave the set.
You have no idea how much we appreciate you.
- Working everyone for overly long hours and compromising safety to save money.
The only reason we have the overly long workdays we do in our industry is to save money. It’s cost lives, but yet the unsafe workdays persist.
It’s a shame it’s gone on for so long, and nothing has changed, even at the cost of health, lives, and workplace safety.
I’ve written other posts on this issue and can only hope things change for the better before any more lives are lost.
Uniil then, it’s on my permanent pet peeves list.
I know most of you wouldn’t dream of doing any of the things on this list.
I just wrote it to remind us of some of the annoying, unnecessary things that make our already long workdays even more difficult.
I’m sure you know someone who’s guilty of at least one of the transgressions on this list. Feel free to share this with them.
What are some of your set pet peeves? Drop a line in the comments.
See you on set.