9 Things You Didn’t Know About Working in the Television Industry

Earlier this year, I had the amazing opportunity to shadow a director of photography for one week as he worked on the set of ABC’s Scandal! With little knowledge about what really goes on behind the scenes, my experience was eye-opening. What I experienced on the set of this one series is definitely not the experience for all productions in Los Angeles. This is simply what I lived and learned being out there and talking to different people within the industry.

1. They use a Spit Gun

For those nasty scenes where someone gets spit on, I've always wondered what they used and how it was done. They have an actual spit gun which is loaded with goopy material. The spit gun is also used for paintballs and dust balls for bullets in shoot-out scenes.

2. The Hours Are LongMy first day on set lasted 13 hours (7 A.M.-10 P.M.) which they told me is an average day. People who work directly on set- such as lights, grips and camera operators- have to be there even longer to set up before shoots and clean up after shoots.

3. They Really Feed YouDepending on how big the production company is, most provide everyone with craft services, which is food. While there, they had breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between. Unlike typical campus dining, the food was actually delicious. It’s what everyone on set looks forward to the most.

4. Everybody is Super NiceBut you have to be. Working in an industry where you have to be around the same people for sometimes over twenty hours (I know, crazy) means the people around you have to like you. Having a bad attitude can cost you your reputation, or your job.

5. The Process is HecticIdeally, the script would be finalized weeks before shooting the scene. But sometimes, that doesn’t happen. Last minute changes, whether it be editing the story or editing dialogue, can happen hours or minutes before shooting the scene. Thus, it’s extremely important to ensure all scheduled scenes are shot before the end of the day.

6. Scenes Are Not Shot in OrderI remember reading my first call sheet which listed all the scenes being shot for the day. Some were for episode 7, some for episode 9 and others for episode 4. Shooting schedules seem more to do with the availability of the actors and the locations of the shoots.

7. Sets are Built and Taken Down Pretty Frequently

Much of the time is spent rebuilding and setting up rooms and sets. That right there is the oval office.

8. It’s All About Networking Job postings on company websites and Indeed.com are rarely used when scouting new people needed for a production. The majority of people get their opportunities through knowing somebody. Those hiring might give a chance to an experienced friend of a friend rather than a stranger who submitted an application. This is another reason why it’s important to be nice to everybody… because they might help you get your next gig.

9.You Don’t Have to Go to Film School I used to worry that I was not qualified enough to work in the television industry. However, as I spoke to more people, I learned that almost everybody there had unusual paths. One of the producers on the show went to school for dental hygiene and ended up in Hollywood. Another staff member pursued dreams of becoming an architect before being an assistant director. Everyone has different paths, which makes the industry so unique.


All gifs courtesy of Giphy