1. Put practicality first
Film sets are full of hard, dirty labor, so always keep that in mind when dressing for the day. Your clothes should be durable, comfortable and allow you to get into a variety of positions. You’d be surprised how many shots end up feeling like what cave divers call a “squeeze.” If it comes down to style vs. practicality, go with the latter — film sets aren’t a fashion show.
2. Wear dark colors
I was once warned on a set not to wear white because it can reflect light into the scene. This made sense to me and especially since I spend a lot of time beside the camera, I didn’t want to risk even a small, soft bounce of light ending up on an actors’ face. Wearing dark colors will make sure you don’t worry about this issue.
3. Hats are your friend
Having a hat on set, even if it stays behind in a bag, is a good idea. I caught on to this early when I noticed that every key grip I worked with wears a canvas hat. In situations where you may be shooting in bright, hot sunlight for 12 hours, a hat can be your friend. It keeps shade in your eyes and your head cool instead of baking to a crisp.
Bonus Tip: If you’re shooting somewhere where you need to be wearing a hat, it’s probably smart to have a pair of sunglasses too.
4. Know the location
Every night before a shoot, you should receive a call sheet with the day’s location, weather and types of scenes being shot (i.e. interior or exterior). Read these to determine the clothes you’ll be wearing. Will you be shooting at night outside? Or indoors all day? Will there be rain towers on set? These situations will likely have different clothes associated with them. Nothing is worse than being miserably hot or shockingly cold for a 12 hour shoot day.
5. Comfortable shoes
This is the most important tip for dressing on set — you need to have comfortable shoes and ones that tie. Slippers, sandals, and Crocs have no place on a film set. The shoes you wear will serve many purposes:
- Keep your feet comfortable while you stand on them all day
- Keep your feet safe from objects that may potentially land on them
- Allow you to move about set at a fairly brisk pace
It helps to purchase some sturdy shoes that will last awhile and use them for work alone.
A Note on Style
It’s tempting to dress with a bit of stylistic flair much like how we all wanted to look good in high school. That’s OK, but make sure to dress with what is a balance between style and comfort. You shouldn’t be working harder because your clothes restrict movement. If you do decide to dress for style only, know that you won’t get any sympathy if the clothes slow you down.
Dress to Work Hard
Gone are the days of suits, ties and long pants while shooting a movie film. Today, you need to show up on set ready to lug, tug and haul some gear in comfortable clothes with a practical purpose. The best part about dressing like this is that when the shooting day is over, you have no problems fitting in at the nearest dive bar for a drink.