How do you handle challenges on set?

 Many factors can create challenges on set for a production. It could be down to money, timing or people.  How you handle these challenges on set are important, as it affects the rest of the production running smoothly. We asked Josh and Duncan how they handle challenges when they are on set.

Josh Wilson

It’s a great thing, there are always challenges on set. I think it is important to understand that first off, that there will be challenges. I feel that challenges on set can be solved before they ever happen. You have to rely on the team you put together, to mange those issues. So I think that dealing with problems on set happens way before you get to set.

It also depends on the type of people you have with you. By the time you are faced with a problem, you know you are in the best possible hands. I think the most important thing is that you can prepare for the challenges, then when it happens you can work as a team to make sure things get solved in a productive manner.

Duncan McAlpine

The first time I saw someone really lose it on set was an actor in EastEnders. He wasn’t happy about some tiny thing in the script as we were blocking through in the old Acton Rehearsal Rooms (the bane of all the BBC Assistant Stage Managers at the time of which I was one). The actor threw the script in the air and it broke apart to cover what seemed the entire floor.  I was left to scrabble about and pick it all up to try and reassemble it back in order.
I thought ‘we are in for a ding-dong on set now’ as the producer got up from behind her table to approach the apoplectic actor. But what followed was a classic example of how a good producer can pour calming oils on a turbulent sea of troubles. I could see the producer was cross but she calmed the situation down and said ‘walk with me’. She put her arm around the actor and off they went for a chat outside.
It taught me that people in front of the camera often need a safety net. I have been there myself when I presented my own tiny show on the Sci-Fi Channel in the 1990s. It was my reputation on the line and my responsibility to get the best out of my guests and just occasionally I needed reassuring from the director that I was looking and sounding good and doing a good job. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to experience life as a presenter for a few months and that has really informed my handling of presenters and contributors, experts and members of the public in how to reassure them, give them all the information that they need at the time and in so doing, get that good performance and hopefully avoid those temper tantrums made popular by the movies.

So in summary:

  • As much as it is a cliché to say, stay cool, calm and collected and remove the issue from an audience.
  • Have the best possible team working with you to ensure any problems will be resolved in the best possible way.

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