Film & TV

On-Set Collaboration

Samuel L. Jackson

Lesson time 13:14 min

Sam describes the movie set environment as “a moving circus.” Learn his code of on-set conduct, which has earned him respect throughout the industry as a true professional.

Samuel L. Jackson
Teaches Acting
One of the most successful actors of our generation teaches you how to elevate your acting.
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The on-set environment is different according to the budget. So if you're on an indie, there's a real familial kind of feeling on an indie film, because everybody knows there's not much money. And everybody is there for a reason. They're doing it because they know the person that wrote it, that's directing it, or that has something to do with it. So the familial aspect of it is very different, and everybody is working toward a common goal to get this thing done, because they know, you know, it's a love project or whatever. Big studio films, kind of different, you know, there are a lot of different elements. It's a moving circus. Sometimes, you know all the actors that are there. Sometimes, you don't. Sometimes, you meet a person for one day, and that person is there for that day. And they're gone, in and out. If you're on a movie for a long haul with people, you'll run into them in the mornings in the makeup trailer. And you'll either talk about what you did last night. Or how's it going with you? Or there's music playing, and stuff's happening. And once you get on set, you can interact with whoever you want to interact with. I'm generally making jokes with whoever's around. Back in the day, when they used to pull a tape measure to your nose to see if you were in focus, you know, I was always doing stuff like that and trying to figure out how long the tape measure was and making fun of the camera crew. So I'm generally one of those people that knows everybody on the camera crew. I know who the grips are. I know who the PAs are, the prop masters, and everything that's going on. And I'm talking to everybody because I'm just that guy. And I don't have to be in the moment until they say action. Everybody's not like that. Some actors like to talk to you between shots. Some actors like to think about what they just did. Or some actors run straight to the monitor and look to see what they did, not what we did. It's important to me that when I'm on set or I'm on stage that every actor understands that it's more than just the performance aspect of it, that when I got into theater, Dr. thing was, OK, rehearsal is at 7 o'clock. And when I got to New York, I was amazed when somebody said rehearsal was at 10 o'clock. And people show up at 10 o'clock, and they want to sit down and have their coffee and their, you know, muffin or their sandwich or whatever. When rehearsal is at 7 o'clock, that means you get there at 6:30. You have your coffee. You have your sandwich so at 7 o'clock you're in place, so they can say action or let's go. Let's pick it up from this place, this place, or that place. So always on time, always know my lines, probably know yours, I've done my homework. I am character-driven and know what that character is and what that character is going to do. I, you know, don't get in your way. I will help you all I can. It's professional responsibility. And the best way for me to ...

Get into Character

As a kid, Samuel L. Jackson stuttered so badly that he stopped talking for almost a year. Today he’s one of the world’s most successful actors, with roles in over 100 films, including Pulp Fiction and The Avengers. In his online acting class, the Oscar-nominated star shares how he creates memorable characters, powerful performances, and a long-lasting career. Learn to master auditions, analyze scripts, and find the truth in every role you play.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I've learn so much insight with this course. Can't wait to apply this to my life.

Superb, I'm a writer and this was definitely a Master Class...

Samuel made acting easier for me to understand how to begin 🙏🏾

such dignity and talent! i totally enjoyed listening to samuel l jackson tell us how he goes about developing the characters he plays. very professional approach! no wonder i enjoy watching him act. believable.


T. S.

I totally agree. Treat everyone indifferent because you never know who will be your Producer, etc.

A fellow student

A basic review on how to be the most professional indivual you can be. Nobody is beneath you

Dominick C.

If anybody knows how I can just "work on a Tarantino set" I'm all ears. Sam did not disclose how to do that and I'd really like that info.


I’m going into directing and now I just want to assign this episode as homework for every actor I work with in the future. Such good advice on humility, professionalism, and common courtesy in such a collaborative industry.

Chad J.

All of this is so true, even at the independent film level in the smaller markets.

Martell S.

I was on the set doing for a Photo double for Stranger Things and this very helpful knowledge to use

Steve M.

So important ,everything he just covered makes the difference between being a actor with passion to make it in this biz

Earl M.

Thank you, Mr. Jackson. Been 30+ years since I went to school for drama. Was called into another field of service and never really used it. Now at 53, I want to give it a shot. You've helped me and I appreciate it.

Weronika K.

Love that Masterclass!! It's getting better and better! It's fantastic to hear all that "raw meat" which we won't find in the Acting Books. P.S. Julianne Moore... RESPECT!!

Charlotte P.

People should also have more respect for extras. Even though we usually don't have the right to talk to actors, they are usually also nice to us. But the crew doesn't always care about the extras and treats us like numbers. Now that I have roles, I respect extras just like I did when I used to be one because I know that my scene would be nothing without them and I could soon have the chance to perform a scene with one of them.