The Attitude of Safety

The object of Safety Training is to raise awareness of potential hazards that exist in your chosen field of interest: film and video production.

Where possible, this training offers guidelines for safe practices.  The message of this training is that each and every person engaged on a production  - that means you - has a responsibility to maintain safety – not just the producer, or 1st AD, but every single crewmember, even the director. The health and safety of the cast and crew takes precedence over expediency; and it takes precedence over the director’s desire to make certain shots and it takes precedence over the budget. 

At the end of the day, nothing in filmmaking is worth someone being injured or killed.

How Accidents Happen, How Safety Rules Get Made

It's important for everyone on the cast and crew to help avoid accidents:

•Crew must have an awareness of hazards.
•Crew should know guidelines and regulations.
•Crew must remain vigilant and not become acclimated to an ongoing hazard.
•Crew must prevent/avoid distractions.
•Crew in general, and supervisors in particular, must look at each situation and ask “What could go wrong here?”  “What if such and such happens?” “Is there a potentially dangerous combination of elements here?”  “What steps do we have to take to assure that these elements never come together?”
•Potential hazards should be communicated in daily meetings that happen on site.
•People in creative positions who are instructing others where the work will take place should have a heightened awareness of safety concerns.
•Accidents are often not a single event, but a chain of events that change the circumstances and undermine safety preparations.  Crew must always carefully reassess the safety of an operation when changes occur.

Safety Attitudes in Practice

We have learned some hard lessons about what happens when safety is disregarded.  Crews are trained to keep a sharp eye on safety, and keeps priorities in order.

On set, a safe attitude means:
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•Always plan for safety.  Play “what if” scenarios and work things through. Ask “What could go wrong?”
•Always communicate.  Make sure everyone has the information they need, and knows what is happening. (In the next module we will talk about some important communication tools to provide safety information to the crew.)
•Never rush yourself, and don’t rush anyone else. People can work quickly without rushing. Rushing causes people to step without looking, and act without thinking.
•Never run.  Never.  Never instruct a crewmember to run.  An astonishing number of broken ribs, sprained wrists and cracked heads are due to this one bad habit.
•Never push when there is a safety problem.  If anyone raises a safety issue, take it seriously.  Do not proceed until a solution is found or the issue is cleared up.
•Never attempt to operate equipment, or take actions that require experience and qualifications that you do not have.
•Never cut corners.  Don’t fail to place a sand bag to stabilize a light because you are in a hurry.  Don’t jump up and down to pull a scrim out of a light; lower the stand, or get a ladder.  Don’t stand on the top step of the ladder, get a taller ladder.
•Always monitor yourself and others.
•Always follow safety regulations.  Don’t push it.  Regulations are there to protect you.
•If you think something is unsafe, say something.
•Always listen and think twice when anyone asks “Is this a good idea?”  “Is this safe?” “Should we chance it?”
•Always work reasonable hours.  Research confirms what any veteran of the film business knows, after 12 hours the work goes half as fast.  People start making bad decisions.  Consider also that your crew has to drive themselves home.  Driving long distances after working a series of long days has caused many fatalities among the film community.
•Always report situations that are unsafe, or questionable.  For the good of the filmmaking community, report people when they act without regard for safety.


jason-tomaricJason J. Tomaric is an Emmy-winning director and cinematographer in Los Angeles, and produces the online filmmaking resource, FilmSkills.com.  FilmSkills uses dozens of instructional videos from hundreds of working film industry experts to enhance students’ learning experience.

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