The other day, I tweeted out the above image, from Movie Set Memes, about lock up. I got some interesting responses:
@TheAnonymousPA I was in New York City when they were filming I AM LEGEND. There was a lone PA “locking up” ped traffic near Madisen Ave.
— Anthony Robinson (@antoniusrex) December 30, 2016
On the + side, I once got to walkie the on-set cops about a drunk driver going the wrong way down our closed street set, which was neat. https://t.co/VhVM2XioVQ
— j. 🏳️🌈 (@_notthatcool_) December 30, 2016
Note the key difference between j.’s and Anthony’s tweets: there were police officers on j.’s set. This is incredibly important.
You should never, ever, ever try to block traffic without a police officer.1 It doesn’t matter if your film has a permit to film on the street, or if you’re just stealing a shot, trying to redirect or hold cars is super illegal. (Of course, you shouldn’t be shooting on the street without a permit anyway, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.)
It’s also incredibly dangerous. You should never be in a public road that hasn’t been blocked by police. Drivers aren’t looking for a lonely PA standing in the middle of the lane, which makes it easy to not notice you until it’s too late.
On a professional shoot, the locations department will have figured out the lock up weeks ahead of time. They’ll get the permits, hire the officers, all that stuff. The cops’ main job is to direct vehicle traffic.
You, the common set PA, may still be called upon to direct pedestrians. And there will be pedestrians. Even in an industry town like Los Angeles, people love to gather and gawk at the shoot, hoping to catch a glimpse of a celebrity. You probably can’t prevent them from taking pictures, but you can politely tell them not to walk onto set. (Again, always assuming you have a permit that allows you to keep people out of a public space.)
Be sure to tell them you’re “filming,” not “shooting.” That’s a misunderstanding that could lead to a 911 call.
- Usually, they’re off-duty or retired officers, but they’re still acting in an official capacity when the studio pays for their services.↩