Learning the Hard Way

Well, maybe not the hardest way, but still, I learned.

I got myself a fancy new phone last week, and the first thing I did was figure out how to turn my phone on vibrate.

This is a very important feature on any phone, when you work on a film set. In fact, if you’re actually, physically on set, like a camera assistant or boom operator, you should probably put your phone on silent altogether.

In the office, you obviously don’t have to worry about ruining a take from your desk. Still, as a PA, I go to and from the set a lot. I make a habit of putting my phone on vibrate the moment I pull into my parking spot. That way, I don’t have to remember to switch it on and off, depending on where I am.

So, imagine my surprise when, while I was passing out callsheets, I heard the theme from Indiana Jones. (Did I mention the second thing I figured out was how to change my ringer to the Indiana Jones theme?)

At first, I assumed it was someone else’s cell (who doesn’t like Indiana Jones?), but sure enough, it was mine.

As it turns out, the “Vibrate All” option on my phone actually means, “Vibrate Phone, Texts, Chats, and Emails, But Not, However, The Alarm Clock.” I guess that was too much to fit on the screen.

I’m sure I had a good reason for setting my alarm for 3:00pm, but I’ll be damned if I can remember what it was.

The point is, it was a damn good thing I wasn’t on set. A guy could get fired for that.

So what I’m telling you is, if you get a new phone, make sure you test out everything that could set your phone off, just in case.

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9 Responses

  1. When I was in school and spending a lot of time observing on sets, I had this really cute “water-proof” watch that I loved. Unfortch, it wasn’t actually water proof and had an alarm that kept setting itself and going off. The first time it happened was in the middle of a scene on a really popular show. I took that stupid watch off as fast as possible, trying to stop the alarm. I was ready to toss it under a car if it hadn’t stopped beeping when it did! Years later, as a director, the thing I
    most paranoid on set about is making sure my cell phone doesn’t ring or buzz. Why cell phone? Because I never wore another watch on set again. Haha

  2. I’ve been on a couple of shows where the AD tries to impose the $25 rule, but I often work on such low budget stuff that I’d just roll my eyes and tell them to try taking it out of my pay. They get the hint and back off… Not that my phone’s ever rung during a take. =)

    And I think it’s mainly the Cingular/AT&T phones that give off the interference. My phone used to interfere with sound gear, but not so much after I switched to Verizon.

  3. Nathan’s right — on every show night (when the 200 person-strong audience files in to watch us shoot the episode), the AD’s and warm-up comedian repeatedly harrangue the crowd to turn their cell phones ALL the way off. Apparently Iphones are among the most eggregious offenders here — which is fitting, since the Iphone seems to be the Cell Phone of Choice among Industry peoples…

  4. I’ve got some really bad news for you. Even when your phone is set to vibrate, there are a bunch of radio mics that pick up interference from them when they ring. They get kind of a low grade buzz or a drop-off from silenced phones ringing. I haven’t been nailed myself, but I’ve heard a couple of mixers grumbling and bitching.

  5. I’ve been on two shows now that impose an instant $25 fine on anyone whose cell phone rings at any time on set. It worked, too — I never heard an audible phone ring near the set on either of those jobs.

    My own solution to the problem is more primitive, but utterly foolproof: I don’t own a cell phone. This wouldn’t work if I was still a PA, of course — although in my PA years, cell phones had yet to be invented, and somehow the movies/commercials/music videos got made just the same — but in my job a cell phone isn’t necessary.

    This wouldn’t work for most people — many a jaw has dropped open wide open upon finding out that I don’t own a cell phone — but having one less shiny plastic bauble to lose suits me just fine.

  6. That’s awesome!

    I wouldn’t advise using it to differentiate between the set and office, though, since they’re so close. My GPS can’t tell whether I’m on the 405 or Sepulveda half the time.

  7. There’s an App on the T-Mobile G1 (The google phone) that allows you to setup locations using the phones GPS and then it will automatically changes settings (Wallpaper, ringtones, ring volume, etc) to things you want.

    So let’s say that on set its off.. but in the office or at home you want it to be on. You setup the two locations, set the settings for those locations and then as soon as you get within the GPS coordinators of that you’re phone automatically changes its settings.

    Although its probably still a good idea to pull i tout and check to make sure 😉

  8. Motorolas’s are shitty for that. Even if the phone is off or on silent, the alarm still rings out loud.

    I need my alarm to remind me to take medicine, so I’m in the throes of figure out how I’ll remember to do that on set with an alarm I can’t turn on lol (and even if it DID ring the alarm in vibrate only mode the vibe on a Motorola is so weak it’s laughable).

  9. I don’t know if it is specific to the software on my RAZR (Verizon), but if I adjust the earpiece volume on it while talking, it switches all ringers and alarms out of silent or vibration mode to that volume of audible tone. Since the microphone and earpiece of the phone seem to have volume levels set at random (some calls are loud, others are hard to hear at even the highest setting), this often causes me problems with ringing in meetings.

    I hate Motorola and will never buy another one of their products.

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