Some lessons from being on set

So I’ve been working on this movie called Goliath (details) .

It was quite an experience.  As a writer, you’ll write something like, EXT. PRISON YARD — DAY: Guards look down at the segregated yard below.

Then you get to set and you realize it took dozens of people hundreds of manhours to create a realistic simulation of what to you was a throwaway line to set up the backdrop for the scene..


In the interest of populating my anemic blog, here are some lessons I learned from the amazing experience.

Anything you write will have to be conveyed or said. There is nothing worse than having actors struggle through a Bible’s worth of text while it becomes clear they could have conveyed the same information with a glance.

People take what you write super literally

On set, the crew will work off the script and endeavor to literally put forward what you’ve written. Actors will will ask you about the tertiary meanings of some throwaway line. So when you drunkenly write some bit of business or revelation you need to set up the line you really care about, remember that someone is actually going to have to live with that for a long time.

As a writer, you’re going to be pretty useless on set.

Maybe you’ll be called upon to change a line or some choreography, maybe an actor will ask you some backstory questions, but mostly you’ll wander around set eating snacks of the craft service table., intermittently flirting with the cutest available PA, who will inevitably have a boyfriend . Bring your laptop, drugs, or both.

Enjoy it while it lasts

That being said, it’s going to be the time of your life. You’ll wander through a life sized diorama based on the scenes that you have created, looking at your hands, marveling at what they have wrought. Actors will pal around with you, crew members will am you for career advice, extras will slip you their head shots. Live it up, rock star! Bring a girl to set if you can. Enjoy the rare opportunity to make being a writer look cool. Soon enough you’ll be back to worrying about rent and grinding out dialogue in a Starbucks. Don’t cry when it’s over, smile cause it happened

Published by Matt Lazarus

WGA screenwriter offering in-depth writing instruction, notes, critique, and assistance.

One thought on “Some lessons from being on set

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: