Safety Guidelines


“Safety First” is not only a slogan, it is a mandate.  No member of the cast or crew should ever be put in any jeopardy for the purpose of making a shot. There is never a reason to risk anyone’s safety. Nonetheless, many people have been injured and killed on film sets.  

The Safety Meeting

The 1st Assistant Director is the Safety Officer for the production.  However, every person working on a set has an obligation to speak up when they see an unsafe situation. The A.D. should encourage crew members to speak up if they have any concerns.  The A.D. should conduct a safety meeting at the beginning of every shoot day.   

The meeting can be brief and informal but should cover the following items: 

  • Review any specific items that relate to the day’s filming (animals, stunts, smoke effects, etc.)  
  • Refer to any applicable safety bulletins which should be attached to your call sheet. Contract Services Administration Trust Fund (CSATF) is a non-profit organization that administers many programs for the motion picture industry. Here is a link to a list of their safety bulletins. 
  • Demand good housekeeping on the set. Walkways and work areas should be kept free of equipment and debris. While shooting on a sound stage, a four-foot perimeter from the stage wall must be maintained at all times. All exits must be free and clear.  
  • Locate emergency exits as well as the location of fire extinguishers and first aid kit. 
  • Provide designated smoking/vaping areas with butt cans. 
  • Determine a muster area in case evacuation becomes necessary 


The set is a work place and clothing appropriate for the work being done should be worn. Jewelry, loose sleeves, exposed shirt tails, or other loose clothing should not be worn around machinery in which it might become entangled. Long hair should be tied back when working around machinery and or equipment with moving parts. 

Make sure the crew is informed (a note on the call sheet is advised) of clothing requirements (heat, cold, rain, snow, etc.) and that protective equipment such as safety glasses or hearing protection is available when needed. 

Foot Protection 

Per OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) open toed shoes are not allowed for crew. They, along with high heels (unless they are part of an actor’s costume), are never appropriate for a film set. Sturdy, all weather shoes or boots with slip resistant soles are a smart investment for a film crew member and are strongly recommended. Film sets can go as long as twelve hours. That’s a long time to be on your feet. Wear shoes that are supportive and comfortable. Your muscles and back will thank you!

Hand Protection 

Gloves should be worn when the work involves exposure to cuts, burns, chemical agents or electrical hazards capable of causing injury or impairments. 

Hospitals, Emergency Rooms & On-Set Medics 

As part of SFTV safety requirements, you must list the location of the nearest hospital or emergency room on every call sheet. If your location is more than five miles to the nearest facility, Production Administration may require your production to hire an on-set medic, EMT or trauma nurse.   

LMU Student Health Services EMT alumni are also a good source to find an on-set medic. The rate is $20/hour. A rental fee for their supplies will need to be negotiated. You may contact Dylan Resnick  for a list of available and interested EMT’s. 

In addition, there are several services that provide trained medics such as Event Medics or Set Medics LA. 

You can also contact a local fire station or hospital to inquire about hiring an off-duty EMT or nurse.  

The Assistant Director


The AD is responsible for all on-set logistics and for keeping the production on schedule.  The AD makes it possible for the Director – and everyone else on set – to do their job.

A good AD creates an atmosphere that enables creativity and collaboration. The AD must have good communication and leadership skills. Make sure the crew know what phase of work is in progress and what, if anything, the crew is waiting on when pauses in work occur. A good AD always has a backup plan, which should be vetted by the director.  

The Director’s Guild of America (DGA) defines the 1st Assistant Director as follows: 

  • Organizes pre-production, including breaking down the script, preparing the strip board and a shooting schedule. During production, the AD assists the Director with respect to on-set production details, coordinates and supervises crew and cast activities and facilitates an organized flow of production activity. 
  • Check weather reports. 
  • Prepare day-out-of-day schedules for talent employment and determine cast and crew calls. 
  • Supervise the preparation of the call sheet for cast and crew. Direct background action and supervise crowd control. 
  • May be required to secure minor contracts, extra releases and on occasion to obtain execution of contracts by talent. 
  • Supervise the function of the shooting set and crew. 


The AD is in charge of safety management and must do everything they can to avoid injuries and accidents to the crew, cast and the public. They are responsible for conducting a safety meeting* every day at call time.  

Here at LMU, the AD must be a dedicated staff position and may not be shared with another crew position. In rare cases an exception can be made to allow a Producer/AD combo. This exception must be requested ahead of time and approved by Production Administration. The exception can only be made if it can be guaranteed that the AD can remain on set at all time during filming. In some cases, a professionally experienced AD might be required to be on set based on the project’s and safety requirements. If this is the case, you will be informed by Production Administration no later than at your approval meeting


All AD’s (students and non-students) are required to earn the Assistant Director Certification Badge before being allowed to work in this capacity. For more information about badges see Safety Badges.


As the AD develops the schedule to find the most efficient way to shoot the film, they check with the Director to make sure their assessment of the script is in sync with the Director’s. The AD tries to balance the Director’s artistic vision with the available money and time. She will also keep the Producer updated on any money or schedule issues.  


The 1st AD is responsible for the prep schedule. The importance of prepping cannot be understated. The more time you have to prep, the easier the shoot will be. The AD will schedule location scouting, tech scouting1 and then the Production Meeting. 


This is the final step before production begins. It is where the director, AD and all the departments meet with the final shooting script to review all the production aspects. It’s usually the last opportunity to ask questions before shooting. The AD runs the meeting as they go in script order (sometimes shooting order). You should allow at least a one (1) day buffer between the production meeting and the first day of shooting. This will allow any crew to deal with last minute changes that come up.  


The First Assistant Director will hold a safety meeting each day at call time. The meeting may be brief and informal, but the following should be discussed:  

  • Emphasize the importance of safety on the set and everyone’s responsibility for maintaining a safe workplace. 
  • Set goals for making the day. 
  • Remind crew of the length of the work day. Unless you are shooting outside of the SFTV 30 Mile Radius crew are allowed to work a maximum of 12 hours (not including meal breaks). 
  • Remind crew the SFTV Safety Hotline phone & email are located at the top of the call sheet to report any safety concerns. 
  • Inform cast and crew about the locations of fire extinguishers, emergency exits, and first aid kits. 
  • Inform the crew of the location of the nearest hospital. 
  • Review any special issues pertaining to the day’s filming- in particular, any stunts or special effects and refer to any applicable Safety bulletins. 
  • If filming on location, make the crew aware of indigenous critters and plants that may be hazardous. 
  • Check that all crew members are wearing appropriate clothing (open toed sandals, high heels, etc. are NEVER appropriate for any crew member- including the Director and Producer) for the weather and climate. 
  • Solicit safety concerns from crew members. If there are any, the First Assistant Director will address them to the satisfaction of the crew member before any work begins. 
  • Add a brief synopsis of the day’s schedule (time-line of scenes, lunch and wrap estimates). 
  • Keep it light and fun! 


During the daily safety meeting, the 1st AD will inform cast and crew if a PROP weapon will be used on-set on that day, for which scenes, and who is responsible for its use. The AD will ensure all cast/crew are aware that the prop weapon is not real and, if possible, show it at the safety meeting. It is not to be used at any time other than for the scene or rehearsal of a scene.


Creating an efficient shooting plan is extremely important. The director, D.P. and A.D. should decide during prep as to the method used to organize your shooting day. Standard practice on SFTV sets is a five-step process: B.L.R.T.S. (Block. Light. Rehearse. Tweak. Shoot.) 

Step 1) Block 

Invite all necessary crew to observe and mark (with tape or other materials) the blocking (where the actors stand and move). The D.P. and director will fine tune as the Gaffer, Key Grip and other department heads take notes. If you can afford stand-ins (second team) they need to watch the rehearsal. 

It is counter-productive to light the set before you block! Pre-rigging a location or set is common, but that is for general not specific lighting

Step 2)  Light 

The D.P. and the crew light the set and set up the camera. On larger sets, stand-ins (usually wearing similar colors to the actors) are used instead of the actors. A “second team rehearsal” is very common to work out any camera moves. During this time, it is very common for the actors to go back “in the works” to hair and makeup and/or the costumer for adjustments. It is also the time for the A.D, director and D.P. to confirm the shot list.

Step 3)  Rehearse 

Once the set is lit and the actors are ready, you want to do another rehearsal to confirm all the elements are correct. In some cases, (stunts, animals and minors) you want to shoot the rehearsal. Suggest to your director that they watch this rehearsal with their eyes on the actors, not through the camera or monitor. This will make the cast feel safe and seen.  

Step 4)  Tweak 

After rehearsal, it’s common to make minor changes to blocking, lighting, hair/makeup or any other element of the shot. Clear the set and allow department heads to make the proper adjustments. Keep things moving quickly and safely. Once the essential changes have been made, call the actors to their places and rehearse the shot again if it feels necessary. Your director should watch this rehearsal from behind camera or on the monitor. 

Step 5)  Shoot 

If you’ve made a good plan and communicated it to the crew, your efficiency will increase and will allow you to make changes when the director suddenly gets a great idea. 

It is the AD’s responsibility to make sure the shot goes off on time. Don’t rush your director but gently suggest “Are we ready for a take?” once you get the feeling that the shot is ready to roll. NEVER CALL OUT OR DISRESPECT YOUR DIRECTOR. 


Here are a few tips for working with the crew: 

  • Be prepared. If you are ready and communicate well, the crew will respond. They love leadership. 
  • Stay calm, what can go wrong – will. How you handle adversity – how you solve the countless problems that arise each day on the set is the true test of an AD. Don’t yell or use sarcasm. That’s a quick way to have a crew turn against you.  
  • Communicate clearly. Announce what is happening loudly and clearly . (“Blocking rehearsal for camera is up,” or “Holding for battery change,” etc.) 
  • Keep your sense of humor 


Actors are the most vulnerable people on the set. It’s important for the entire crew to do everything they can to put the actor at ease, so they are able to focus on performing and to give their best work. 

WORKING WITH EXTRAS (aka Atmosphere, Background or B.G.’s) 

Extras in a film are those background performers, who don’t have dialogue, but whose presence lend “texture” and an air of reality to the scene. The best way to retain your extras and prevent them from leaving early is to have a good game plan and treat them with respect. Don’t bring them in too early and keep them waiting around for hours to work. Make sure they have access to the same food and drink as the crew. On almost all student films – you will find yourself working with “non-professional” atmosphere. If you treat them with care and respect you will get better performances and decrease the odds that they will abandon your set. You’ll need to provide a place for the extras to wait between scenes – a “holding” area. This area needs to be sheltered from the elements, whether it’s rain, sun or cold. You need to provide water and restrooms. 


As the AD reads the script they have to imagine where extras may be needed – a restaurant, for example, would have diners, waiters, bus boys and so on. The amount, ethnicity, age and gender of the extras should be decided on during prep. If you’re shooting a period film, your costumes, props and hair and make-up will be affected.  

Setting background is one of the AD’s chances to use creativity. Giving the extras a “story” or motivation will inspire them to use their acting skills. Make sure that the atmosphere never distracts from the main action. Watch for distracting movements, gestures and wardrobe and make sure continuity is maintained.  


You have to know the frame you’re trying to fill. Either look through the lens or at the monitors provided. If there’s a camera move in the shot – have the camera operator show it to you. 


Pay attention during the blocking and rehearsal. Know where the cast is going to be. As you set the background watch out for shadows cast by the extras and any blocking of actor’s movement and/or lines. 

Try to get a rehearsal with extras before you shoot whenever possible. You don’t want to ruin a take because your extras were bumping into each other – or the actors. 

Because the need for continuity is important, duplicating movements from take to take is extremely important. You can choreograph the action by having the extras move on specific lines of dialogue or a bit of action. Have the extras take their own cues. This means they have to pay attention to what’s going on in the scene – and that’s not a bad thing. 

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