How to Be Camera Ready for Set
Camera ready means that you show up to work with your hair done, makeup applied, and wardrobe on, so you are prepared to film when you get to set.
When it comes to wardrobe, production may need you to emulate a very specific look or your role may allow more room to create your own outfits. In either case, the looks you create need to follow the instructions given, reflect the style of the show, and be appropriate for your category. For example, just because an outfit worked for a role as a high school teacher on Euphoria doesn’t mean that same look will work for a teacher on Danger Force. That’s why it’s important to read your details carefully to ensure you’re putting the right look together for the role you’ve booked. If you are unfamiliar with a project, watching episodes that have aired can help you get style inspiration for your role.
In some cases, like in period pieces or specialty roles, production may provide wardrobe for you. Please wear clean and sufficient undergarments and any other pieces instructed in your details. For some roles, like when playing a paramedic, wardrobe may provide the uniform, but ask you to bring a specific color t-shirt, socks, and shoes.
Arriving camera ready means that your wardrobe makes it to set clean and unwrinkled. If you’re instructed to bring clothing with you, it should be hung in a garment bag.
For women, most roles will require some sort of makeup application. If your details do not include makeup notes or if you are asked to show up with a natural look, that usually means a base foundation, mascara, and light blush. When putting together more specific looks, be sure you understand the era and setting of the show. If you’re booked as a patron in a New Jersey diner on The Watcher, you’re going to have a different look than that of someone eating at a ritzy Manhattan restaurant on Blue Bloods. Don’t forget to bring any makeup items with you to set that you’ll need to keep your look camera ready throughout the workday.
When it comes to nails, while gels and acrylics are popular contemporary styles, they won’t work for period and even some modern roles. In their job posts and messages, Casting Directors will often include any nail requirements, but if you are unsure if your gels/acrylics work for a role, please ask the Casting Director before accepting an offer of work.
For men, makeup is not usually a requirement, though translucent powder is helpful to control shine from lights on set. Though a few roles, like club or Halloween scenes, may call for some form of makeup.
If you are unfamiliar with makeup application or need help putting a look together, there are plenty of online resources and YouTube tutorials that can help.
Another important part of being camera ready is styling your hair for set. For modern roles, you may not receive detailed hair instructions and instead could be given general notes like “formal styles” or “ponytails and buns.” Whatever the case, please show up to set with an appropriate hairstyle for your category. When booked in period roles, like in Genius: MLK/X or Daisy Jones & the Six, you can be given instructions and reference photos to recreate specific looks. For certain eras, this means arriving with your hair in rollers and finishing your look on set.
If you have facial hair, please pay close attention to job posts and messages as some roles require you to be clean shaven. If you are not willing to shave, please do not submit for these types of roles.
Want to learn other ways to prepare for working as a Background Actor? Check out our articles Wardrobe Essentials Background Actors Should Know and Creating TV and Film Hairstyles for Background Actors.