Make Connections As An Actor On Set

I guess you never know what’s going to happen in this career. As I’ve shared before, I’ve pulled back from acting this year. I’m not NOT acting, but I’ve been focusing my energies elsewhere – coaching, writing, my new podcast (early follow us @CallYouLaterPod) and family stuff.

So, of course, I booked something! I booked a small role in an indie feature. 

Before you come at me for calling it a “small role”, yes, I agree that there are no small WINS, but let’s be real, there are smaller roles and larger roles – some roles are larger and then they get cut entirely in the edit. Some roles are smaller, but are pivotal plot points. And yes, if you got the audition out of 800 or 5,000 people who were submitted and you actually book it, it’s NOT a small win whether it’s two lines or twenty pages, right?! 

Now that we got that out of the way…

So, the film stars a pretttttty famous actor and I had a really nice day on set this past week and go back for pickups soon. I was nervous I was gonna test positive for Covid as my husband had it all last week, but miraculously I didn’t!!

It’s actually a movie I had auditioned for back in Nov or Dec. I didn’t initially remember the project, part or audition. I had to go through my tracker and pull up the sides to jog my memory, which really is the goal I think – creating something, being in the moment with your auditions and then letting it go. 

(Side note: one time when a client was pitching to reps and was struggling processing getting so many “no’s”, we made an agreement that she would sing Frozen’s “Let it Go” every time she got a “no”. It made her smile & really helped her “let it go!” – and of course, she ultimately got great meetings and has an awesome team now!) 

I actually didn’t even audition for the role I booked, casting just reached out saying the director liked my read on another role I taped for and wanted me to come in and do this one. Cool. Quite honestly, I’m not sure if the director liked my read or casting put my name forward, likely some combination of the two. I used to run camera for this casting office and have a very friendly relationship with them sooooo another reminder, relationships in this industry really do matter! 

One tip I shared on my instagram about the shoot is when you’re on set, don’t stay hidden away in your trailer all day! OK, yes, take your selfies in your trailer and FT your family if you wanna show them you doin’ your thing, but then get out there and talk to people!! 

Pro tip:  take selfies out of costume so you can post them immediately and IN costume, ideally w/ cast members, so you can post and tag everyone once it airs. When posting, do NOT give away anything before it airs. 

Back to not spending all your time in your trailer – it was pretty hot where we were filming in Pomona so don’t get me wrong I definitely spent TIME in my trailer (thank you AC!), but even though I’d eaten breakfast I still came out and got some fruit and said hi to some of the other actors. I was lucky enough to have an awesome second AD (that’s who you check in w/ when you’re on set) who also went out of his way to introduce me to people. 

It’s funny the things that can happen when you put yourself out there and don’t stay hidden away, when you’re not afraid to sit at a table and talk to a stranger. I know it can be really hard with TV cause if you’re not recurring it’s literally like you’re a guest on someone else’s set. Lunchtime on set always reminds me of Jr High and that all too familiar internal debate I remember having with myself, “Who are you going to sit with today, Jenna? Are you gonna sit with the ‘cool kids’ and hope someone talks to you or are you gonna sit with the ‘theater kids’ who actually like you?” Thank God I finally figured that one out (and also later realized, the theater kids were the cool kids, but ya knw)!! Can you relate??

Back to the story – I wrapped just as we broke for lunch, but I was STARVING and didn’t want to drive 45 mins home with my stomach growling so I stayed to eat. The other actors, who at this point I’d gotten to know a little more from filming, were sitting at a fully crowded table by the time I got my food, so I sat down with one of the makeup artists and started chatting with her and with a crew member who turns out was there helping his friend, the UPM. We got to talking and I learned he created this coffee company @skibeans during the pandemic that’s emergency coffee for skiers so we started chatting about how my mom’s family grew up outside Aspen and are big skiers *not me, I’m terrible, though it is fun for a couple hrs til my hands freeze and I’m ready for wine* so he ended up giving me a bunch of FREE COFFEE! Who knew?! I love free things! You never know what will happen if you put yourself out there! 

Then, as the tables opened up, I chatted with the other actors – some up and coming stars and familiar faces. You gotta read the room, but they were warm and friendly. We all ended up chatting for a while. They were curious to learn more about my coaching and even asked for my info to give it to their friends. Then, I found out one of the actors just graduated from Pace and knows one of my clients so we took a selfie together and sent it to my client. It’s truly a small world! Had I not talked to them, we never would have realized that connection! 

And yes, not every set is going to be so friendly. Oftentimes those at the top of the call sheet really need to focus on their upcoming scenes or whatever so play it cool. I recommend bringing a hardcopy book or magazine with you to set or if you knit or do needlepoint that’s a great thing to be doing while you’re waiting. Of course you can bring your phone, but people are more likely to strike up a conversation with you if they can see the book cover you’re reading or if they know you can chat while you’re knitting. IMO scrolling your phone can look like you’re disinterested, plus some sets are very anti-phones and you don’t wanna create issues. Ya feel me? 

I hope these tidbits were helpful to those of you newer to being on set. I was pretty nervous when I booked Scandal, my first job in LA. Chandra Wilson, ya know Bailey from Grey’s Anatomy, was directing and I hadn’t put that fact together and was totally starstruck when I saw her and she immediately asked me to rehearse. My scene was opposite Scott Foley and I had the first line and my mind literally went blank cause I was so shocked it was Bailey i mean, Chandra standing there! Luckily Scott Foley was so kind and oh so sweetly showed me his sides. I’ll never forget it. Thankfully I nailed it all after that, but sheesh! Embarrassing. The more you can educate yourself before you’re there, the better off you will be! Learn from my mistake: look up names and IMAGES of ppl ahead of time.  

Do you have any tips for actors headed to their first professional set? Would love to hear it! Comment below and let me know.

Wishing you bookings from things you auditioned for last year too! You never know!! 

Want to more auditions so you can get on set more? Work with me! Go to www.ActorsRise.com/Coaching for more details!

2 Comments

  1. Cameron Foord on June 10, 2022 at 2:16 am

    Love these tales from the set Jenna!
    You booked the room as they say!
    Very informative!



    • Jenna on June 10, 2022 at 5:44 pm

      So happy to hear they were helpful ! Thanks so much, Cameron!



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