The first day of principal photography is always nerve-wracking and exciting as everyone tries to get in sync with the director and with each other. A typical film shoot can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days or more, depending on the budget and the complexity of the shoot. Film schedules are generally based on five or six day weeks and shoot days can be long, averaging twelve hours.
Most crew members are issued walkie-talkies to communicate with each other while they’re spread out across the set. All department trucks and the actors’ trailers are parked together at home base, organized by the Transportation department. Because of scheduling restrictions, scenes are frequently shot out of story sequence.
On the first day of filming, the shooting crew reports to work:
• Camera Crew – Each camera being used has its own team, consisting of the camera operator, first assistant/focus puller and film loader. Sometimes Steadicams®‚ or stabilized hand-held cameras, are used, which require an experienced operator and first assistant.
• Lighting Crew – The gaffer (the chief electrician) oversees this crew, communicating to the Electrical Best Boy (the foreman) and the electricians what lighting set-ups are required by the Director of Photography.
• Grip Department – The key grip (head of the grip department), Best Boy Grip (the foreman) and grips work closely with the electricians and camera crew, rigging the lighting and camera equipment.

On the set with Frank Capra.

The film crew prepares a multi-camera set up.