Turn Around, Bright Eyes

One of the most important factors in your day is the turn around.

No, not that turn around.1 Jeez.

“Turn around” is the time you have between wrap one day and call time the next. The minimum required turn around varies from 12 hours for actors to 8 hours for teamsters.2

If you require someone to show up in less than their turn around, that is a “forced call,” and the production must pay that crew or cast member a lot of money. That’s why most call sheets say something to the effect of “No forced calls without prior approval by the UPM.” They don’t want you hanging around on set an extra 15 minutes just so that the following morning is a forced call.

Now, you might be thinking, “Why do actors get a larger turn around than everyone else? Fucking actors! They already get paid more, but now we’re guaranteeing them more time off, too!”

Which is an understandable reaction, except that everyone else’s call time is based around the actors’. If you gave the actors a ten hour turn around, it would mean hair and make up would have to show up after nine or nine and a half, the ADs after eight and a half or nine, and on down the line. Super lame. For once, the little perks we give actors actually protect us below-the-liners.

It can still be rather inconvenient, at times. If you’re on a show with one central character, someone who’s in most or every scene, get ready for some late Friday nights.

Say you start at 7:00am on Monday. Not bad. Twelve hour shooting day, get out at 7:00… but wait, you had an hour lunch. You actually wrapped at 8:00pm. That means, Tuesday’s call can’t be earlier than 8:00am. Then 9:00am Wednesday, 10:00 on Thursday, 11:00am Friday. And that’s if you actually stick to twelve hour days. A slow director can make Friday’s call 2:00pm, even without night work. It can be rough.

You’re in a slightly better position if you’ve got an ensemble cast, where the actors one morning aren’t necessarily the ones who wrapped out the night before. The next tightest turn around is the camera department, at 11 hours.

If you’re not good at math, that basically cancels out the hour lunch. Wrap at 8:00pm Monday, start at 7:00am Tuesday again.

Now, it doesn’t always work out as neatly as that; things go wrong, scenes take longer to shoot than planned, and so on. But I have had good weeks where we had the same call time every day.

Of course, a twelve hour day isn’t actually that great, either.

Maybe this will cheer you up:

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. Are any of my readers old enough to even get that reference?
  2. Yes, that’s eight hours from when they leave set. They still have to go home, eat, wind down, sleep, get up, clean up, fight traffic on the way to work…
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10 Responses

  1. So what is the actual legal turnaround for PA’s. Some AD’s like to claim PA’s dont have one. A former 1st I worked with said it’s 9 hours and I can’t find where to confirm that. Would you happen to know?

    1. There is no law about turn around, and PAs are non-union, so there’s no rule, either. SAG rules dictate actors get 12 hours’ turnaround; IATSE give camera 11 hours; I think Teamsters are way down to 8, or something crazy like that.

      So, the ADs who claim that PAs don’t have a turn around are correct. They’re also assholes if they take advantage of that.

  2. I worked on the fourth season of a TV show with an ensemble cast and the UPM had that well oiled machine down to 10 hour days as the norm. It was a strange sight when they went to 12. Now I understand how he was able to manage that.

      1. Everybody on that show always talked about how lucky we all were. The show is good, the job isn’t too difficult, and the people in charge are awesome. I’ll never have a better PA job.

  3. I understand what you’re saying with the trickle down factor from the actors, but it’s in the H/MU contracts for 10 hours and 9 for ADs (just so no one gets the impression that we’re not protected by turnaround).

    So, once you force an actor, you’ll either have to shuffle your H/MU and ADs around so they don’t force themselves (they foresee the actors force and take off earlier in the night)– or like you said it’s a trickle down in which people get forced across the board and the UPM isn’t happy.

  4. I feel sad, I’m “old enough” that the first thing I thought of when I read the words turn around was “bright eyes”. Dang.

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