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The Lost Art of Location Safety
Shoot Day Priority One: Set Safety
As in real estate, video production these days is all about location, location, location. In my experience, studio shoots are the exception to the location rule. The ability to enter someone else’s “home” and leave it (and everyone involved) in the same condition as we found is something we take great pride in. And it’s definitely one of the factors that go into creating an overall positive experience on shoot days.
Part of creating that positive experience is maintaining a safe environment.
Could you call set safety a “lost art?”
And maybe it’s just me, but I have noticed an unfortunate long-term trend in location shooting of safety not being a priority. I can only believe this is because of an increasing unawareness or disregard for set safety.
On any given day in the world of location production I’d like to assume that no one arrives at the set thinking, “let’s save some time today and forget about taping down or putting mats over cables! And those safety cables for the hanging lights over the talent’s head? We can get by without them. Oh, and shot bags on the C-stands are totally unnecessary.”
But we’ve all seen the sort of “lack of action” that can lead to close calls or even serious injury. Most of the time avoidable accidents happen because basic safety procedures are overlooked in the excitement of the shoot. A little common sense goes a long way towards the goal of everyone going home in the same condition as they arrived.
And let me tell you, I’ve seen my share of people overlooking safety in the name of “saving time” or “getting the shot,” and dodging a bullet because of their poor decision-making. I’ve also been in situations where I have stopped the shoot because of safety concerns. My advice: never be afraid to speak up when you feel an unsafe condition exists. No one ever got hurt by addressing safety concerns prior to calling “action.”
No one wants an accident to happen. No matter the size of the production – from a simple video shoot with a couple of lights and a few stands to a more complex set-up such as a generator with feeder cable and large wattage lights, C-stand forests populating the set, or cast, crew, and clients everywhere – I believe safety should always be top-of-mind.
But whose mind should safety be at the top of?
The clear answer is of course that responsibility for safety falls upon everyone. Each person on-set has a specific role to play, and as a professional each crew member is responsible for looking out for everyone’s safety.
But this is the real world, and realistically this doesn’t always happen. So in my world, who is responsible for double checking the sprinkler heads on the ceiling? Or that a C-stand arm is properly set? Or that the scheduled pace doesn’t turn into a crazed “get it, get it, get it” race for no overtime?
Who makes sure that everyone goes home in one piece?
I do. On my set that person is always me. And when everyone makes safety priority one, our day is just a little easier, more fun, and safer.
Dave Pierro, Camera Originals
Safety should be everyone’s number one priority on set and on location. Email us to receive a list of safety tips for your next video shoot.
Rona Lamont says
Well said. I’m a Costume Designer/Stylist but I’ve stopped a shoot when I’ve seen a potentially dangerous situation arise. On a small commercial I may request just a c-stand on set rather than bringing out a rolling rack and sadly, the amount of times I now have to send the grip off to find a tennis ball/flag for the end of it is disheartening.