How To Get Yourself On Set
Getting on board with an agency can be hard these days, especially when you are straight out of school and not sure how to approach it nor what to expect when you get in there. Here are a few pointers I can offer based on my experience.
How To Make Initial Contact
Introduce yourself over the phone, keep it brief, advise your interest and that you will send them an email with your experience, ask them to follow up confirming receipt
Don’t be disheartened when you haven’t heard a response within the next day or two, as I said these people are busy…. Follow up with a phone call, gently prompting if they have received it.
If you are ‘blown off’ touch base again in a couple months, the timing may be better now and it gives you a brief chance to update your examples with recent work. Click here to find a template of what to write in your follow up email
In the instance where you still don’t have a positive response, follow up again in another six months…. Keep in mind the time of year you are contacting them, if it happens to be fashion week or such, the likelihood of you getting a response is really slim.
Take notes. It amazes me how little people actually do this
What To Do During Your First Meet
Chances are you meet the photographers agent before you meet the photographer him/herself, either way first impressions do count. The reason I was asked to assist the very next day after my initial meet with the agent, was because the she was impressed with my eagerness to learn, how polite I was to those around me and above all she said she could see the passion in my eyes and hear my clear communication.
Don’t be too forward but don’t hold back either. The way you word your intentions is everything. Be respectful at all times however subliminally let them see you have the confidence to not just stand around and observe on set.
When You First Make It To Set
Always be respectful of the hierarchy. If I am second assistant, whenever I meet the first I make a point to introduce myself as their helper, after the formalities I immediately state I am here to assist them specifically during the shoot, and that they shouldn’t be afraid of bossing me around… I then get straight into it asking – what can I help with first?
Having strong communication skills is vital on set but almost more importantly stronger observation skills and initiative is required to help you see the little things. There are many good assistants out there, but when you can show you are looking at the finer details and preparing things prior to being asked, that’s when you will be remembered. Always try and think ahead but without getting in the way.
When your new onset you normally aren’t thrown into having a huge amount of responsibilities or roles. Don’t let this dishearten you. Use this as a chance to show your people skills and that nothing is too big or small for you… ensure the clients are always comfortable, have plenty of water etc. Keep an eye on the aircon and set tidiness, they are all small things that help the efficiency of the shoot overall.
Take notes. It amazes me how little people actually do this. I know I must’ve looked like an amerature but essentially I had to take notes… there was so much that was new to me, my brain was fried by the time I would get home and I could hardly remember how we shot things let alone all the small things like terminology etc. The days are a rush, busy and nonstop and if you don’t make time for notes, you won’t be able to recap and memorise what it is you learnt…. Essentially taking notes is the quickest way to get yourself up to speed. The photographers appreciate that you are taking it seriously and the assistants are more than willing to give you advice as they have all been there and done that themselves.