Calling the roll

Here’s the “Team CHERET” filmmaking workflow when the set is prepared and everyone is ready for action. A lot of you may think that this is totally overkill but it is how I’ve been doing it on set for the last 7 years on 375+ film productions with 50+ productions per year and counting. And I follow this basic chain of calls on set even if I’m filming all by myself. It’s a built in checklist so nothing goes south during a production. Need I mention that the rest of the filmmaking industry is almost on the same standard?

So here goes:

The 1st Assistant Director is “calling the roll” as follows
  1. Final checks, please.” Signal for any last minute adjustments, especially to hair, makeup, wardrobe and props.
  2. Optional: “Picture is up!” followed by “Quiet please!” to alert everyone that the take is ready and imminent.
  3. Roll sound.” The Sound Department will roll first. After a second or two, the sound recordist will confirm that the recording equipment is running at the correct speed and is indeed recording by calling “Sound Speed.
  4. Roll camera.” The Camera Operators or 1st Assistant Cameras will roll their camera, and immediately after their camera is confirmed as running at the correct speed and indeed recording, will confirm “ Speed”.
  5. Knowing that all cameras on set are indeed rolling, the 1st AD will call “Marker”. Hearing this, the 2nd Assistant Camera will show the slate (“clapperboard”) to all cameras and  will call out the “Scene” and “Take” numbers so that these details are on the recording. E.g.: Scene 1. Take 1A. Mark.” Immediately after calling “Mark” they will audibly clap the two sticks of the slate together to make a synchronisation point for audio (the sound of the clapper) and picture (the two parts of the clapper being seen to come together). However, if the slate was not visible in the frame or the sticks were too soft, Camera Operators may call for “Second Sticks” and the 2nd Assistant Camera will fully mark the scene a second time e.g. Scene 1. Take 1A. Mark.”. With the slate quickly taken out of shot, and the camera refocused or repointed as necessary for the opening framing, the Camera Operators call “ Set” to indicate that all is ready to capture the action.
  6. Action!” Sets the entire scene in motion. Capturing music videos the playback or click typically is started first and the actors get their cues from the click/playback
  7. Only the Director or 1st Assistant Director calls “Cut”, but Camera Operators may also “Cut” to save storage space if they know the take is unusable. The Operator may also call “Cut” if the camera has “rolled out”, i.e. run out of storage. The Operator will not cut if there are other cameras still rolling or an interruption would ruin the actor’s focus.
  8. After the Director/1st AD has called “Cut,” the 1st AD will check whether the Director is happy with the take, and conclude the roll with a direction like “that’s a Take Two” if another take is required. If the Director does not want another take, the 1st AD will call “Check the Gate” (a signal for 1st Assistant Cameras or Camera Operators to confirm that the camera has not malfunctioned during a take, and that there is no hair or fluff in the aperture (“gate”) or on the sensor where the film is exposed). When the camera has been checked, the call from the 1st Assistant Cameras or Camera Operators will be “Clear gate!“. Then, if that set up is complete, the 1st AD may call “Moving on” or “Next set up.” These announcements cue all departments and the ADs on set as to the next steps they must take. For example, “reset” and/or “back to one” may require a reset of elements in the frame.

Also published on Medium.