Inspect all ladders at the time of checkout and before use for broken or missing rungs, steps, split side rails, or other defects.  Any bent supports or other defects should be reported and ladder taken out of service. 

3 points of contact are needed when using ladders. 

Never use a metal ladder near electrical wires. 

Never place ladders in doorways unless protected by barricades or guards. 

Never stand on the top step of a stepladder.  

Never climb above the third rung from the top on a straight ladder. Do not over reach on any ladder; move the ladder when needed. 

Straight ladders should extend at least 3 feet above its top landing support point. 

Straight ladders should be tied down as close to the top landing support point as possible. 

Always use a 4 to 1 ratio (1 foot away for every 4 feet of ladder height) when utilizing a straight ladder. 

Always face the ladder when ascending or descending and maintain a firm grip. 

If you carry tools, use a tool belt or a bucket attached to a hand line to pull equipment up and to lower it down. 

Always lock the wheels to prevent any rolling or instability. 

Locations Overview


The slug line in the script, or heading of each scripted scene which should include Int./Ext. Set or Location and Day/Night, describes a “set”. Sets are either on stage, back lot or on location.

There are local locations (those places within commuting distance) and distant locations (those places that abbreviate your production day and may require overnight lodging). See 30 Mile Radius for more information on how distant locations affect your production.


The selection of a good location is essential to a successful project, not only in the way it affects the aesthetics of the picture, but also in the way it impacts the logistics of the production. An inappropriate location choice can result in wasted money, time, and energy.  


The usual process is to begin with secondary sources – location files, guidebooks, Air BNB, and other services. Some resources include GiggsterAll Pictures MediaPeerspace, or FILM LA, which maintains a website with a large number of locations.  Another resource is Avvay, a nation wide Location Scouting company that specifically works with film productions. Students complete a form about their location needs and receive a free file pull. Avvay checks availability, negotiates pricing, and helps you to book the best option for your project. Avvay’s minimum location fee is $1,000.

If secondary sources prove unsuccessful it becomes necessary to get in a car and check out primary sources. All potential locations should be documented – do not trust your memory. Take photographs – panoramas are best. Write down the address, contact name and phone number, and any other relevant data. Create a folder and make one for each location scouted. 


Ideally, the location will be free – if not, a deal will have to be negotiated with the property owner. Even if you are lucky enough to get the location for free, offer some sort of compensation or gift to show your appreciation.   

TECHNICAL SCOUT (aka Tech Scout) 

Once you have selected and secured your location, take your department heads (DP, Production Designer, AD, Gaffer, Key Grip, etc.) to Tech Scout. This is extremely valuable as this is your opportunity to explain your shots and shooting plan. It’s the crew’s chance to ask questions and make notes. Tech scouts can be long and tedious, but they are absolutely necessary. The more information you can distribute, the better prepared your crew will be during shooting.  

Try to scout the location on the day of the week and time of day you will be filming there. Conditions vary from weekdays to weekends and from day and night. It’s a good idea to document the scout with a digital still camera and to make a map of the location showing access, parking, and so on. Please review the Tech Scout section of this handbook.


Good locations amenable to student filmmaking are difficult enough to find. For the sake of your fellow students – and those who come after you – be sure to make this experience as easy and pleasant for the location owner as possible. Keep your promises and follow the owner’s instructions. Most importantly, leave the location in better condition than you found it. Don’t “burn” (figuratively and literally) a location. 

Filming on location means utilizing property that is someone else’s (house, store, etc.) or a public street, sidewalk, park or other facility. Production company personnel are guests in such places, and are obligated to conduct themselves as such, and treat the public and the location with courtesy. 

When filming in a neighborhood or business district, proper notification is to be provided each merchant or resident who is directly affected by production activities (includes parking, base camps and meal areas). The Filmmaker’s Code of Professional Responsibility should be attached to the filming notification which is distributed to the neighborhood. 

Production companies arriving on location in or near a residential neighborhood should enter the area no earlier than the time stipulated on the permit and park one by one, turning engines off as soon as possible. Cast and crew should observe designated parking areas. 

On Set Best Practices


Learn by Doing

As a new production student one of the best places to learn about making movies is on other students’ sets. You can (and should) volunteer as a Production Assistant, which is an entry-level position. This role is a great way to gain experience, meet people, and learn how and with whom you like to work. 

As you begin your production journey, the following guidelines will   help you develop professional work habits that will serve you well throughout your career. 


  • Honor your commitment. Refer to the crew deal memo
  • If you’ve volunteered to help a classmate with their film keep your word and give them a full day of honest work.  Quid pro quo is Latin for “You work on my film; I’ll work on yours.” When you need them for your film, you will expect the same. Expect to work up to 12 hours. 
  • Be prepared. Read the call sheet and the script pages for the day’s work.  
  • Be pleasant and enthusiastic. Follow the Golden Rule and treat others the way you would like to be treated. You never know who might be able to give you your next job. Be willing to do anything to help. Don’t say “No, it’s not my job.” 
  • Pay attention. Don’t stand in front of the camera when the D.P. is trying to set up the shot. If you need to leave the set make sure your supervisor knows where you’re going, why you’re going there, and when you’ll be back. 
  • Anticipate and be proactive. The more time you spend on a set the easier it will be to do this. The filmmaking process is highly repetitive. You will get the hang of it pretty quickly. Anticipating what will be needed can save you a lot of extra steps. 
  • Don’t assume anything – if you are in doubt, ask. 
  • Don’t play with the props. They’re not toys. 
  • Don’t move equipment that is not your responsibility without permission. If something is in your way, ask the appropriate crew member to move it.  
  • Work quietly.  
  • Cell phones should only be used for work-related texts, calls or emailing. Always keep it in silent mode! 


  • Wear close-toed, comfortable footwear. Keep in mind that you are going to be on your feet for a long, long time. Shoes, boots or sneakers with good support is a worthwhile investment. Need ideas for shoes? Check out Shoes for Crews! 
  • Wear work-friendly, dark-colored clothing. Dress for maximum mobility and comfort. Clothing that is too loose can become a safety hazard. 
  • Make sure to bring protective equipment with you like gloves, sunglasses and a hat. It’s not a bad idea to carry sunblock, Chapstick, Visine, aspirin and the like. 
  • The weather can change. You should carry a “set bag” with you that contains rain gear and cold weather gear. 


  • A film set is organized in a hierarchical structure. It is not a democracy. As a crew member, you are expected to observe proper protocol.  Direct your questions and suggestions to your direct supervisor rather than to the director.  This is called “following the chain of command.” It is an effective way of avoiding confusion and miscommunication. Questions like, “where do I park?” or “where do the water bottles go?” should be directed to your 1st AD or UPM.  Assume all logistical matters are being handled by the producers and ADs.  


  • All professional sets employ the use of radios. They are an inexpensive device that improves efficiency and communication. We highly recommend the use of “walkies.” 
  • Someone needs to be responsible (usually a P.A.) to distribute, charge and collect the radios at the beginning and end of the day. It is highly recommended to put a piece of tape with the crew person’s name on the radio. A sign out sheet is used to track who received a radio. One of the most common lost items on any set is walkie-talkies. Keeping fresh bricks (a.k.a. batteries) on hand is necessary. The battery charger should be kept close to set to allow for changes.  Using headsets or surveillance ear buds are a good way to keep the set quiet.  


  • If you are a P.A. you will be expected to help with “locking up” the set when it comes time to do a take. You will be assigned a position at the perimeter of the set. It will be your responsibility to keep everyone in your area aware of when the camera rolls and to make sure there is no noise that will ruin the take. 
  • When the AD calls “PICTURES UP” repeat the message in a loud, clear voice so that every- one knows that the camera is about to roll.  
  • When the AD calls “ROLLING,” repeat this loud. Rotating your index finger in a circle is a universally understood signal for “ROLLING”. Your crew should know to be quiet, unfortunately you will have to remind them. At that point, you should be on the lookout for “bogies” or non-crew persons that could ruin the shot.  
  • You will come across people who do not want to follow your pleasant request of, “We’re filming a movie. Would you mind waiting a minute.” In all cases, treat “civilians” (anyone not involved in the production) with respect and politeness. Remember, the shooting company’s presence is probably an inconvenience to them and you may need to return to the location. 
  • When you hear “CUT”, repeat the message so both crew and the public will know they can resume work or walking. 
  • P.A.’s or other crew members are never permitted to control vehicular traffic. Only designated law enforcement officers are allowed to stop or direct traffic. 


  • Put your tools and equipment away – then help others.   
  • Clean the area and pick up and dispose of any trash. 
  • Make sure you’ve filled out all the necessary paperwork before you leave the location. 
  • Make sure you have the next day’s Call Sheet and map before you leave the location. 
  • Make sure all cast and crew have transportation. 

Script Supervisors


Students planning an advanced production should give serious consideration to securing the services of a Script Supervisor for their project. 

Almost all scripts are shot “out of continuity” yet when edited together they must make continuous verbal and visual sense. The Script Supervisor helps ensure this continuity by recording every detail of every take of every scene. They take notes for the Director and Editor. They are the critical link between the set and the editing room. 



Prepares Breakdowns  

Times the script 


Assigns scene numbers for slating 

Makes a “lined” script (vertical lines indicating which takes cover which part of the script) 

Makes detailed notes of each take and ensures continuity between takes 

Checks and ensures all scenes have been shot and covered  

Provides the Assistant Director with an “End of Day” report 


You might be able to enlist a fellow student to work as the Script Supervisor. Local 871 of the IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical & Stage Employees) represents script supervisors. You may contact them for a list of people willing to work on a student production. 

For more resources, visit the Los Angeles Script Supervisors Network.  


There are a number of workshops offered in the Los Angeles area that offer instruction in script supervising. The people enrolled in these workshops want to work as professionals, but they need some practical experience first. They are excellent candidates for Script Supervisors on student films. 

Randi Feldman Cinema Workshops  


Bus/Cell:  310 429-4864 

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