Michelle's Blog

Michelle's rants and raves about the world of acting and how to navigate one of the most exciting professions of all time.

An Indie Film Actor's On-Set Survival Kit

We all know that moment when you get to set and you’re like, “Shoot! I wish I had such-and-such”. Well, I’m here to give you a list of what I have found to be the most useful things to bring with you to set when you’re acting in an on-camera project. Now, keep in mind, you might not necessarily need these things. The higher the budget of the film, the less stuff you need. But it’s always good to be over-prepared rather than under-prepared.

Here’s your packing list (in no particular order):

—SUNSCREEN – In case that sunrise shot is taking way more time than you had anticipated and you’re turning into a lobster.

—SNACKS – In case you’re working on an indie where crafty consists of stale cookies and sludge-like cold coffee.

—EXTRA WARDROBE OPTIONS – If you know what scenes you’re shooting, bring something extra. It’s always cool to save the day if your carefully-chosen-by-wardrobe grey tee shirt gets ripped by the fence you’re climbing over or accidentally splattered by your co-star’s fake blood.

—THINGS TO DO – I know, I know. You plan to schmooze and “be present” the whole time and/or work on your lines. People, days are long. Sometimes you need a little brain respite that can be easily remedied with a good book or an art project.

—A WARM ZIP-UP SWEATER OR HOODIE – It can get super cold. And you’re not always dressed in the warmest attire. A zip-up hoodie will keep you warm and is easily and quickly removable without messing up your hair/makeup.

—EXTRA MAKEUP AND HAIR CLIPS – Yes, your hair and makeup person is fabulous. But you never know when/if they’ll have to leave early or not have your particular shade of base or be completely ignoring you and playing candy crush the whole day.

—A SMALL MIRROR – In case said hair and makeup person is still playing candy crush.

unnamed—DEODORANT AND A TOOTHBRUSH AND TOOTHPASTE – For God’s sake, please. Your fellow actors will thank you. It takes two minutes before a steamy scene to take care of your hygiene. Please. Pretty please. The entire world of actors and directors in indie film and anyone else that’s going to be near your stinky self thanks you.

—MAKEUP WIPES – In case the entire crew asks you out to drinks right after you wrap and you’ve just done a scene looking like the poster for the first season of Enlightened (no offense, Laura Dern).

—A PHONE CHARGER – You never know. It could be a fifteen hour day. And I don’t know about you, but my phone has NEVER lasted 15 hours.


—AN ARSENAL OF SLIGHTLY DIRTY JOKES – There’s inevitably tons of time between takes where you’re sitting around staring at your co-stars and your crew. When you can tell it isn’t a distraction, your new friends can easily be won over by a well-appropriated joke or two.

Now, go forth and make movies, young talent!