So you finally got that highly coveted first Hollywood PA job on a film production. All that hard work you did for all those years is about to pay off. Don’t screw it up. Being the new guy or gal on a Hollywood film set can be quite intimidating for anyone, whether you went to film school or not. Day one can start many different ways, so be prepared to be thrown to the wolves immediately. Walkie Talkie LingoMost of your fellow crew members will assume you’re their because you know what your doing already, that’s why you got the job. At this point, your better start faking it if your nervous or apprehensive about doing things. But the quickest way to be revealed as a complete Newbie on a active set is to not know how to work your Walkie Talkie or by using incorrect terminology on it. (a.k.a. Set Lingo) So let me point out a few ground rules and tips for you so you can make it through those first few days of shooting with out looking like a complete idiot.

Rule #1 – Set Lingo.. People On-Set are not truckers, these are not CB radios. Trucker lingo is different then Set lingo. Forget what you think you know. Film sets have developed their own lingo to relay info quickly and accurately. Whether we need to locate someone on set or we need something immediately brought to set, you better be ready to respond with the correct answers on the walkie. We even have codes for when someone is peeing (10-1) and dumping out (10-2) Wasting Time is Wasting Money. Every department, every item on set and every area on set has a shortened ID (A.K.A.) and some names won’t seem to make any sense to you initially. But Please try to know as much lingo before you get here on set or you will be the butt of many jokes and probably one good ass chewing. “Roger That” – WRONG – Never say “Roger That” on a set or when you sign off on a walk talkie. You say “Copy That”, Roger might be the Director’s name and you always saying “Roger That” just might piss him off enough to fire you. Here’s a good site that offers some insight into this world of production slang.

Rule #2 – Channel Selection.. For the love of god, please make sure your talking on the correct channel. Each department will be assigned their own channel. The Main Shooting Set will have their own, usually Channel #1. Channel #2 tends to be reserved for one on one communication. If you hear “Go To 2” when someone is talking to you. That means turn your Walkie Talkie to channel #2 so that we can talk privately. But when you’re done talking, turn it back to your main channel. If you forget to, you will most likely miss the next 30 minutes of info do to your idiotness and that might just cost you your job.

#3 – Talkie Time.. This is not your telephone. Most crew members don’t have time to chit chat and if your talking on the channel it means other people can’t. So keep it short and simple. Especially if your on Channel #1. I’ve seen people get their Walkie Talkies taken away for idiotness. FART noises are not tolerated. They will find you!

Rule #4 – Beware of Roaming Chatter – Most active Film / TV sets that operate in LA on any given day will be using very similar Walkie Talkie systems to yours. Sometimes the exact same ones. There are only so many frequencies available in the LA communication spectrum and those pro talkies we use tend to only have 10 or so channels to access. So many times during the day you can get cross over chatter from other local productions that can’t be differentiated from your own production chatter. Many times things can be done to limit this inconvenience, but sometimes you just can’t do anything about it. Learn your crew’s voices or you may find yourself doing things that don’t need to be done. The joke will be on you, if you run to set with 6 sand bags that aren’t needed. Furthermore, especially be on the look out for the roaming idiot crew members from the other local productions driving by your location on their way to lunch or whatever. If their in a practical joking mood and they have their Walkies on. Be prepared for a slew of random commands over-the-air that won’t make any sense at all. It Happens more than you think!

Rule #5 – The Set PA is the battery whore! If you got a fresh battery give it up to someone more important than you if they need it in a pinch. Keep a secret stash of fresh batteries on you or around you for emergency purposes of this nature.

Rule #6 – Sign it out Sign it in.. Charge it up wrap it up.. If your the lucky one put in charge of the distribution and nightly charging of Walkie Talkies on the shoot. You better well make dam sure you keep detailed records of who gets what and how many. Or you will be getting your ass handed to you at that end of the production by one pissed off production manager.. Crew members are more than happy to take home a free Walkie Talkie if you let them. Treat them like bars of gold you don’t own but are responsible for $$$.

Life is much easier for everyone around you when you’re not an idiot.. I promise!

The Oracle –

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