From Samuel L. Jackson's MasterClass

On-Set Collaboration

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.

Topics include: The On-Set Environment • Be Punctual and Prepared • It's Acting, Not Living • Help the Editor Do Their Job • Make the Set Inclusive • Be Nice to Everyone • Movie Sets Should Be Fun • What Not to Do

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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.

Topics include: The On-Set Environment • Be Punctual and Prepared • It's Acting, Not Living • Help the Editor Do Their Job • Make the Set Inclusive • Be Nice to Everyone • Movie Sets Should Be Fun • What Not to Do

Samuel L. Jackson

Teaches Acting

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Preview

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. [LAUGHTER] 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. [INAUDIBLE] 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.

Reviews

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

It's a wonderful class. SLJ gives thoughtful, no nonsense advice on how to behave in the industry and how to grow as an artist. He's a wonderful storyteller, generous, and completely down to earth. Bravo!

This class is very valuable with helping the new actor on how to get jobs and keep jobs in the acting profession. The advice given is very helpful to being successful.

I wanna see more experiences like the invited actors trying to apply the instructor's hints and maybe more repetiotions of the same couple. This way, i would see some progress in the actors processes.

Mr. Jackson, through this class, has definitely taught me about diving into a character. I feel that I know what to look for and do when on a set, audition or just on my own time while preparing. I have never acted but I have always wanted to be in a film or play. I have more confidence that I can do it now! Thanks!

Comments

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.

Charlotte P.

I love getting to know everyone on set and it is really worth it. For example, when I was an extra, I talked to someone random about my special skills and he gave me a role in a short film a year later. Whenever I have a problem, for example with sexual harassment, I always know someone like a third AD who trusts me and will protect me. I also once met a casting director on set who gave me an upgrade and now keeps calling me for these kinds of roles. Respect everyone's work and they'll respect yours. Be interested in them and they'll be interested in you.

Mia S.

DON'T: "Be late, not know your lines, ask for autographs, take pictures, 'Can we post?' Steal another actor's actions. Ask for more lines. Be discourteous to the other people around you or think because you're an actor and they're a crew member they're not as good or as important as you. To mistreat the PAs - oh my god, a lot of that. Change things that shouldn't be changed - not just your lines but your look. Asking for things in the makeup trailer, or spending too much time in the makeup trailer because you want to look glamorous and it's not your job to be that. There are all kinds of inappropriate things to do. The most inappropriate thing is to show up unprepared."

Mia S.

"Try and make the movie set as light and as inclusive as you possibly can so that everybody knows that 'my job is no my job is no more important than yours, and we're all here to do this together.' Sometimes directors see that you're a convivial and gregarious spirit, and that changes the ton of everything that's going on around and makes his set a better place to be. There are a lot of people that make a movie set work - there was a sign on the wall in the Die Hard office I never forgot: 'Be careful of the toes you step on today, for they could be connected to the ass you have to kiss tomorrow.' So I've been nice to PAs and everybody. Some of those PAs became producers and gave me jobs because they said, 'I remember when I was a PA on so and so, you never hassled me, never made me run and get stuff - you spoke to me every day, you were cordial...' It's nothing. We're almost the least important cog in the movie-making machine, when you come down to it, so be nice to that lighting guy because your ass could be in the dark (especially camera people, they can make you fuzzy, a little soft, or they can shoot from an angle that makes you look fat). Everybody's there doing the same job, so you show up and you try and make the day as pleasant as you want the day to be for you. You can have as much or as little fun as you want to have on a movie set, depending upon your personality and how you present yourself to the people that are around there. You're no better than the guy that's sweeping the floor at night when you leave, just remember that.

Mia S.

"I do the same thing on every take. I don't care if it's a master shot, medium, close-up, extreme close-up, I do the same thing. When editors watch it, they always come to me later and say, 'Thank you. I don't care what shot they're doing, I can use any shot you want and I can cut it any way.' I picked the glass up on the same word, I put it down. It's part of the game - you do it because you know that they got to do it, and you don't want them cutting stuff, you don't want them - the worst thing is folks with cigarettes, the cigarette is this long, then it's that long, then it's this long again, it's that long, the water is that high... But you try and help so that they can do their job too. It's just little stuff that you know. I realize, in a lot of times, we're the most unimportant part of what's happening, especially in cinema. It's good that we're there, but they can have a bad person do the same thing I'm doing, and it'll mean the same thing to the process. It won't mean the same thing to an audience, but to the process, it's fine, if that actor is bad as long as he gets it out there. Being good at what you do is a bonus for the process and for the people watching it, and for the people trying to make money off it. So yeah, it's all a collaborative effort - it ain't about you. I tell everybody, if you want to work on the most harmonious process in the world, you should do a Tarantino movie. The one thing I think is great about Quentin's sets is there are no electronics, nothing with an on/off switch on set, so when he says 'cut,' nobody pulls out their phone and starts texting and looking at stuff; you have to leave your phone at a phone station outside. They play music between set ups, so people sing, people dance, you talk to everybody around about their day or 'if I had cast this movie in 1950, this is who would be in the movie.'"