How to Be Camera Ready for Set

DECEMBER 7, 2020
Woman applying makeup while looking in a mirror

Getting booked by Central Casting and working on your favorite movies and TV shows is exciting, but being cast is just the first step. Now more than ever, understanding your details and arriving to set camera ready are crucial to being a professional Background Actor.

Camera ready means that you show up to work with your hair, makeup, and wardrobe ready, so you are prepared to film as soon as you step foot on set. Safety protocols on many productions limit the interaction between talent and other departments, so it’s up to you to put together the perfect camera ready look.

Wardrobe

As always, be sure to read your details fully and carefully before getting ready for work. Depending on your category, you may be given very specific looks to emulate or may have more room to create your own outfits. It’s important that the looks you create reflect the style of the show. 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 example, if you are playing a paramedic, wardrobe may provide the uniform, but ask you to bring a specific color and style of shirt, socks, and shoes.

Whether you are wearing them or bringing them with you, please make sure your clothing arrives to set clean and unwrinkled (unless otherwise indicated for the role).

Makeup

For women, most of your roles will require some sort of makeup application. If your Details Blog does 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 detailed looks, be sure you understand the era and setting of the show. If you’re booked as a patron in a Provincetown diner on Hightown, you’re going to have a different look than that of someone eating at a ritzy LA restaurant on Twenties.

Don’t forget about your 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 some 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 based on your skin tone that can help.

Hair

Another important part of being camera ready is having your hair styled 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 hair style for your category. When booked in period roles, 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.

Be on time

It’s extremely important not only to show up to set camera ready, but on time and ready to work. Don’t forget to check the Call Time Change Box regularly and factor in time for parking and check-in. Also, be sure to bring your makeup and hair products for touch ups to stay camera ready throughout the day.

Want to learn other ways to prepare for working as a Background Actor? Check out our articles Wardrobe Essentials Background Actors Should Know and What to Do Once You’ve Been Booked.

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By Meghan Dubitsky

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