Truth be told, shooting days on a film set can be arduous and demanding. With early starts and late finishes, a film production can be just as physically demanding as it is mental. A shooting day is an element of film production that reaps the rewards following days’ end. The intense hours you put in on the shooting day will ideally lead to a better end product. And a sense of accomplishment.

How does the average shooting day unfold? Let’s look.

How the Day on a Film Set Unfolds

It starts early. Really early.

Thus, expect call times between 5 am and 7 am. Therefore, getting a good night’s sleep is tantamount to a productive day.

Typically, the first to arrive on the film set are production crew members. They open the location and set up for the entire production. Depending on set-design, after a couple of hours, the production will commence shooting. The first AD will call the first shot and filming starts.

It’s important to note that the COVID pandemic has dramatically changed how shoot days begin, as well as the look and feel of the film set. It is now paramount that productions undergo onsite rapid testing to confirm that all participants are clear of coronavirus.

As a result, this can add at least an hour to shooting days.

Lunch Time on the Film Set!

Typically, lunch on a film set will be called around 6 hours after the shoot day has commenced. However, it really depends on the type of production. If you’re shooting a music video, then by lunch you should have already shot half the video. If you’re shooting a feature film, you may have only shot a fragment of a scene.

Hence, if you’re not apart of the film set’s core production or technical teams, the day can be extremely slow. The reason being that, for many members there is simply not much to do. This is especially the case for supporting crew or actors who may be waiting many hours around the film set before they are needed.

This is where you can put your inquisitive mind to work and truly understand who does what on the film set. The more you get to know the players, the better your future job prospects will be.

Lunch can vary between having no lunch, rolling lunch, or 30 minutes to an hour.

The lunch break on a film set isn’t like the lunch breaks you get in conventional lines of work. A lunch break isn’t your chance to zone out and chill for one hour. It’s essentially just one hour where you can grab some food and plan for the next few hours of shooting.

It’s not really a break at all. In fact, the expression “time is money” is never truer than on a film set.

And the lower the budget, the less of a break it will be.

It’s a Wrap!

Leading up to wrapping a film set, more often than not, the director, cinematographer, and the first AD will be tussling with the schedule. The former will try to get more shots and the latter will try and cut them.

This is what happens 90% of the time without fail on a film set. Ideally, a good first AD would have scheduled for CAMERA WRAP (when filming ends) in good time. The next step is the DE-RIG, which could take 5 minutes or 5 hours depending on the scale.

That’s it.

That’s a rough shooting day. That’s what you should expect on a film set if all goes to plan. But it’s good to expect that it won’t.