While working on Castle last week, I started making a list of all the things I love to bring to the set, in hopes it might help you to make your own list (or copy mine!) so you are prepared physically, mentally + emotionally to do your best work.
I had such a wonderful time working on this show with the actors, the director and the crew. So many gracious people doing what they love + warmly welcoming me to their community. I also realize (in life or on a TV show) you get what you give. When you bring a feeling of joy + gratitude to each person with whom you interact, it is often reciprocated.
And even though, this is #10 on my list, I thought it should be the highlight of this post, as this feeling affects everything you do…
Here are my Top 10 Things To Always Bring To The Set:
1) Stainless steel water bottle. It keeps cold water cold or hot tea hot for up to 12 hours. I bring it with me to the actual set when I shoot to have on hand, so I’m not always relying on asking a crew member for water. They are super helpful, but I just like having my own bottle with me. I love Contigo’s Stainless Steel Water Bottle with a straw built in, and the makeup department is always happy when you are using a straw since it will create less retouching for them. A lot of sets are turning green now too, so when you ask for water, you might be given a cup of water. This does not travel well. When you have your own, you can always easily have it refilled. My personal favorite is this one by Contigo.
2) Sweater or jacket. Even though I left the house when it was 99 degrees out, once the sun sets in LA, it can often go from 99 to 62 rather quickly. Sounds stages are also often kept cold due to all of the hot lights. When they call you to rehearsal, you want to be relaxed while running your scenes, not shivering, so be prepared.
3) Healthy snacks. When I arrive in my trailer it could be hours until my scenes will shoot (or hours in between scenes). Craft services can also sometimes be nowhere near base camp (where the trailers are parked). If you do take a trip to craft services, you could end up grazing on gummy bears and snickers bars, or if you are lucky enough, you may catch a hot + healthy snack while it is still available. I like to bring sliced apples, granola bars, trail mix + sometimes a salad or a small meal in tupperware. Your trailer will usually have a mini fridge + microwave to keep things cold or warm things up. This way, you can relax in your trailer + sustain your energy with foods you know you like. Then if you want, enjoy taking advantage of the wonderful food that is often part of the catered meal. Your job is to be ready when they call action, and if you’ve been sustaining yourself on candy corn for 3 hours, you’re going to feel a bit edgy. Bring your favorite stuff + know you can always take it home if you don’t eat it.
4) Tooth brush + tooth paste. All the mints in the world, just don’t give you the same feeling as brushing your teeth after eating. It’s not just good hygiene, it’ will make sure you don’t have any rosemary potatoes in the side of your teeth on camera. Bring one, and some toothpaste + you’ll be happy you did. So will your co-stars.
5) Passport + important identification. The first thing you do when you get to the set, is fill out your paperwork. Often, a production company won’t allow you to work until it is filled out. If you bring with you your passport, drivers license and articles of incorporation (for actors who are incorporated – and if you’re not, don’t worry), you will save yourself (and the production office) the headache of faxing this info to them after you shoot. If you have it, they’ll make a quick copy + you’re ready to go.
6) Wall charger for your phone. Most tv shows + films shoot 12-14 hour days. And though you may have a car charger, that’s not going to keep your phone charged when you are on a soundstage for 13 hours. Bring your wall charger + don’t forget it when you leave. (I like to leave mine on the vanity so I see it when I’m packing up to go. If you put it anywhere else, you may end up leaving it behind.
7) Your amazing attitude. Everyone on a set knows everyone, and word travels fast. When you come with an attitude of gratitude + graciousness, as if you are the guest in someone’s home, people notice. Even if no one says anything to you about your positive energy, I promise you, it is appreciated. Keep it up for 12 hours + you will definitely be remembered. I am amazed at how much an actor stands out when they are simply professional, accommodating, not complaining + happy to be there. A little friendliness + remembering people’s names goes a long way.
8) Something to do. Anytime you think you are only going to be on a set for a few hours and don’t bring anything to do, you will probably end up being there all day. And there will be times when you bring your favorite book hoping you can read the rest of it and you won’t have time to turn a page. Either way, it is so much better to be safe than sorry. Bring something to do in your trailer that keeps you in the zone of what you came here to do + yet occupies your mind. (i.e. Don’t start watching a tear jerker movie if you’re there to do a comedy + already have been through the make-up trailer!)
9) Mindset motivators. Your job is to be ready when the director calls action. Be sure to have all the tools in place that get you there. Whatever that is for you, whether it’s running your lines, visualizing or meditating or all three. I use Voice Recorder App on my iphone to record all of my scenes in there entirety with my lines so quiet, that I can run the scene in my trailer on my own. A lot of actors enjoy using my album, Creating Powerful Performances, which I designed to get you in a confident + knowing place on any kind of job, no matter the stakes. There are tracks to help you not get intimidated opposite a celebrity as well as how to deal with difficult people. No matter what you encounter on a set (a diva attitude or a screaming director, you still have to deliver). Make sure you have the tools you need to prepare yourself physically, mentally + emotionally for the work you are there to do, no matter the obstacles you may encounter.
10) The feeling that you are enough. You got the job, and yet, I hear from so many actors who say they can end up degrading themselves on the actual shoot. It’s easy to belittle your role, and make a job you beat out so many other actors to book, all of a sudden feel like it is barely a victory. Acknowledge this feeling + then please know that this is simply a lie your ego would like you to believe. It is not true. You are enough. You are there. They hired you because they wanted you to play this part. You are an important piece of the puzzle.
When you cultivate the feeling of “I am enough,” you level the playing field, no matter who you are working opposite + you end up not questioning any of your choices, even when the director doesn’t give you positive feedback along the way. (I was lucky to have the amazing director, Jeannot Scwarz, guiding me with such grace + encouragement – but that is not always the case.) Sometimes no direction means you are doing great.
If you need help cultivating the mindset + feeling that you are enough, you might enjoy the guided meditation audio I created that is helping actors to transform how they feel about themselves on and off the set + stage. It is simply called, I Am Enough. You can download it here.
So, there’s my top 10 list. When you look back on this list (and add a few of your own things), you will find that when you arrive on set, you will feel great + be well-prepared for anything that is thrown your way. You will also go home 12- 14 hours later, knowing you did your best and that it was appreciated.
In fact, when Nathan Fillion + Stana Katic gave me a big hug at the end of shooting my scenes and said, “You are so wonderful,” I realized it had a lot to do with many of the items on the above list, since they all helped me to bring my best work to the set.
Leave a comment below + tell me YOUR favorite items you like to bring to set.
Make a list now + keep it near your desk. It may also become a nice way of telling the Universe you are ready for your next gig.
Love + Gratitude,~Wendy Braun
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