I Got It

People on set are busy. If they’re not trying to get a shot, they’re packing up and moving on, turning around, setting up for the next shot. Everyone’s in a big damn hurry.

And that’s fine, because time is money and all that. But sometimes you have to take just a sec to be sure you’re doing your job right. Even the smallest task.

I learned this on the couple of occasions I was a camera assistant. The 1st would ask me for a lens, I’d bring it to her. When I handed it off, she would look me dead in the eye and say, “Got it.”

Then she’d remove the glass that was on the camera, put it in my hand, and say, “Got it?” And she wouldn’t let go until I acknowledged that I did have it.

Eventually, I realized she wanted me to say “Got it” the moment I, you know, had it. She didn’t want to ask; she wanted me to take responsibility for the $4,000 lens so she could get on with mounting the new lens the DP had asked for as quickly as possible.

I’ve carried this over into my work generally. I carry this over into PAing, now. When someone hands me anything, I say “Got it,” so they know they can let go, literally and metaphorically.

Even if it’s not a massively expensive cinema lens, it’s a sensible thing to do. Have you ever handed over a pile of callsheets to the set PA, and thought they had it, but didn’t? You’ll be finding Day 3 of 8’s sheets until day 9.1

There’s a verbal equivalent to this. One someone gives you a message or instructions, repeat it back in the simplest, fastest terms. “Can you run down to set and get this callsheet approved by the UPM before we start running them?”

“Callsheet approved. Got it.”

One out of a hundred times, you’ll misunderstand what you’re being told. By repeating it, hopefully your boss will catch the mistake before you get too far down the line.

On a personal note, the number of times I wrote “Go tit” instead of “Got it” while writing this post is downright embarrassing.

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Don’t forget, there are two TAPA events tomorrow, one in New York, and one in Los Angeles. See you there! Maybe!

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. There’s always a Day 9 of 8 on my show.
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2 Responses

  1. If something is important, and you want to make sure you understand and they KNOW you understand, you can’t go wrong following the Navy way. In the Navy when you are given an order you repeat it back verbatim and then acknowledge. So if you’re told to activate the gizmo, you say “activating the gizmo, aye sir”. “Aye sir” sounds really strange in civilian life, “got it” works, I like “will do!” because it sounds upbeat and positive.
    If you are moving through an area where you may interrupt important work (like, say the ‘conn’ or area where the ship is being actively commanded and piloted) or in a dangerous area, you ask for permission, you wait for the response, and you announce what you’re doing. So it would sound like “permission to cross the conn?” (asking to walk through the area they’re commanding the ship from) the response would come “granted” or “permission granted” or something like this, and you’d say “crossing the conn” and walk across. Again in civilian life you’d sound really strange but “okay to walk through?” “sure” “alright, walking through” or “thanks” as an acknowledgement works.

    Any place there’s a lot of moving people and parts and you don’t want to break their flow or cause a train wreck you can’t go wrong asking and announcing.

    Overdo this and you will sound very strange or like you’ve come out straight out of Red October, but for an important order, it never hurts to repeat back, as the post said, and acknowledge.

    A related tip comes from restaurant work, in a situation where people may be handling 4,000 dollar camera lenses, or dangerous equipment, or anything you don’t want all over you, never walk right behind someone without a warning. In a restaurant you say “behind!” because you don’t want them to turn around carrying a 5-gallon stock pot full of 400-degree oil not realizing you’re about to walk into where they are about to have their elbow, but any time people are working with expensive, dangerous, or otherwise delicate equipment you can’t go wrong.

  2. I would appreciate a few more “got its” and less “copies.”

    Where I work, it’s:
    “Copy. Fly the call sheets.”
    “Copy, getting the lunch count,”
    “Copy, Wiping your ass then coming to set.”

    But you’re right. Confirming what you THOUGHT you heard, helps eliminate miscommunication.

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