Beginning actors often have an impression of working with “stars” on a film set that’s unlike the real experience. While we do get to meet the leads and make small talk at times, the primary focus is always getting the scene shot. My time on the set of The Preacher’s Daughter, which made its debut in 2012 on Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network, is a good example.
The film stars Andrea Bowen (Desperate Housewives) and Adam Mayfield (All My Children). I met and worked with Andrea during my one scene, shot at one of the Houston Community College campuses. I played her defense attorney and the actor playing her father, Houston’s Ron Jackson, was part of the scene. The three of us spent a short time together to rehearse under the direction of Michelle Mower. We shot the scene several times with different camera set-ups, and then we wrapped and moved down the hall to eat.
I think my time on the campus going through wardrobe and makeup, rehearsing and shooting, and eating took less than three hours. It certainly felt like it moved very fast. Almost as fast is how quickly I got the role: the day before. The director needed to replace the original actor she cast and noticed on Facebook that I was in town from Dallas for the weekend.
I don’t recall having any time to chat with Andrea based on our time constraints. I didn’t even take the time to get a photo with her. I did chat with Ron Jackson; he and I share a common background in broadcasting. Also, I met Adam during dinner but it was merely a “hello, how are you?” greeting.
Not every set experience is the same as this one. I reference it because it gives the beginning actor a sense of what you might face on a film set, especially if your time on set is limited to a few hours. Remember to remain focused on why you’re on set and do everything in your reach to help your fellow cast members and the crew reach the goals of the production without interfering with other’s jobs. Asking for photos is part of that potential interference.
If you have the good fortune of being cast in a role that shoots over multiple days, things can shift quite a bit. The cast and crew get more familiar with you. Your comfort level on set increases. You may bond with a few people and make some longer-lasting connections. But even then, remember why you were hired and how you wish to be rehired in the future.