The Truths and Myths of Being on Set

Written by Jenny Ochu, Audra Weigand, & Selena Thor


Last semester, a few Account Executives were offered the opportunity to be on set for the production of CLA’s Shattering Expectations video. Today, we want to share some insights we gained from the experience because not all of our previous assumptions were necessarily accurate. Here are a few truths and myths about being on set:


Truth 1: Quiet on Set

We’re talking not a single noise on set. Not a shoe squeak. Not a camera click. Not a door closing in the distance. This is particularly difficult when walking on marble floors and shooting in public, which is why you do things like:

  • Wear soft soled shoes – basically gym shoes (unless yours squeak with every step like mine).

  • Capture iPhone photos. Thank goodness they take pretty good quality pictures.

  • Manage tour groups, senior picture photographers, and even an honors class of 50+ people meeting for a field trip at Northrop.


A tour group enters Northrop during the shoot


Myth 1: Everything is Go, Go, Go

In all reality, we spent most of the time waiting for things to happen. It’s not like nothing was happening during the “down time”, but it wasn’t shot after shot. It was: shoot one run through, make an adjustment, practice the adjustment, change the light, change an angle, practice again and film a full shot. Even during the filming, a scene would be halfway done when a noise, wrong step or a forgotten line would interrupt the flow of production. But, practice does make perfect.


Truth 2: It’s All Deliberate

Down to every last detail. The outfit pieces are professional but approachable. The wardrobe colors coordinate and resemble actual CLA students. The light color matches from room to room to ease transitions and editing. The angles flatter people, include the right things, and cut out the wrong things. The timing of words and shots matches the music down to the millisecond. Yes, it is all planned and nearly perfect, but that is what makes it good.


Myth 2: It’s Just a Camera and Mic

Even the “simplest” of videos (aka not the huge movie and TV productions) have a full crew. We’ve got wardrobe, the camera guy, the drone guy, the “boom” guy, the producer, the assistants, the actor, the extras, the musician, the client, etc. There are WAY more people on set than just a camera guy, a mic guy and an actor.


A lot of coordination takes place between the actors, camera crew and producer


Truth 3: People Want to Watch

If you’ve ever seen photos of celebrities on set and people watching from afar behind tape or barriers, well it’s kind of true. People get super curious when they see cameras and lights, and there are two types of people: the ones who freeze because they feel like they’ve just walked into something they shouldn’t have and the ones who just keep on walking even though you are trying to flag them down. Either way, they want to see and know what’s going on, but we can’t blame them. It’s kind of a cool feeling like you have the inside scoop and the behind the scenes look.


Myth 3: It’s Easy

We used to think someone with camera skills just picked up a camera and followed directions. Definitely not. The camera man is wearing all of the equipment on his body walking backwards through a set with four to five people guiding and observing every step. The “boom guy” is monitoring the sound and just as involved. The extras are watching and listening to make sure they hit everything with perfect timing. Wardrobe is watching to see if the jacket is falling out of place or if the light isn’t working with the outfit. The actor is reciting word for word a script without a single break. It’s sort of like conducting an orchestra, which after watching Shattering Expectations, you will see why we included that comparison.