If you worked on a Charlie Chaplin set you wore a suit and tie, no exceptions. This meant crewmembers lifting heavy objects under blistering hot spotlights were sweating like an ice cube in an oven. Things are much more relaxed now and comfort has taken over. Rarely do people walk around in their pajamas. There are still some guidelines to dress on set that meets the demands of function, fashion, and comfort. If it’s your first time on a film set, here are some tips to dressing like a pro.
Basics are best –
Comfortable denim jeans that allow movement. There will be more kneeling than church, but not too baggy is the way to go. Denim or thick khaki style pants are strong. Go for some holes if you want especially in the knees. T-shirts always work but try to wear darker colors to avoid light reflecting onto the scene or distracting the actors. If you are working in the heat you might want to wear a long sleeve t-shirt. Shoots are often an all-day affair and the sun can be harsh.
Hats and sunglasses –
Keep these handy. The lights on set will always be on and it helps to keep a stoic mood to get business done. If you choose not to wear a wide-brimmed hat keep a bandana in your bag to wrap around your neck when in the sun. It’s always a good idea to bring sunscreen as well. Necessary cosmetics like this are sometimes provided when needed but don’t rely on it.
Something that you can stand in all day. Make sure the laces won’t unravel. Shoelace clips are always a bonus. Make sure they don’t make noise when moving around on surfaces. For thoughts about the best shoes for set production watch this:
Belt, gloves and a box cutter –
This will vary depending on the department you work in. Grip and Props departments will have utility belts to keep the many rolls of tapes and other items they need handy. In the middle of a long day of hard work and loss of body fluids. You will notice you might need to tighten your regular belt up a notch. Usually, both hands are already busy so wear a belt or load up on craft services. It’s also a good idea to invest in a quality brand box cutter. The kind that takes standard replaceable blades, Wolf is my favorite brand for price and function. Despite what department you work in, they might ask you to cut something. Maybe a piece of tape or paper or open some item trapped in plastic. No one will let you use their tools without a lot of caution.
Production Labels –
I was a dolly grip on House MD season 2 and I was given a zippered sweatshirt to prove it. I wear it with pride on every set, post-production office and social event I can and with a lot of pride. If you have such an item go ahead and wear it if it fits into the above categories. People like to know you have experience and take enthusiasm in the projects you have done. Think of it as a wearable resume.
Remember you will be working hard on set, so prepare for it. Know where locations will be and check the weather. Dress in clothing that you won’t mind getting dirty. Keep them clean and odor free when showing up. Most of the time you will be working in close proximity to others. For more on getting the most out of your shoot days read here 3 Tips to Maximizing Your Shoot Days and Nutrition Tips for Maintaining Energy On Sets.