Film Set Walkie-Talkie Etiquette

Crew members who are new to a film set struggle with using walkie-talkies. Only those with Secret Service aptitude like wearing them, but many crew members need their earpieces in place to support their department. Listening to a person speaking in front of you while listening to a conversation on the radio takes time to adapt.

The adjustment period is significantly reduced when the crew follows the proper radio communication etiquette. While there are rules on radio use that vary between productions, here are the six most common rules I’ve encountered.

Select the Right Channel

Most departments have their own channel. However, channel 1 is shared by ADs, Art, Costume, Makeup, and Safety. This results in channel 1 being restricted to essential and necessary conversations only. Any lengthy or specific chat should move to channel 2 or another designated chat channel.

The goal is to keep the unnecessary dialogue in people’s ears to a minimum. The crew benefits when the channel is kept clear for immediate and important contact. Most crew members use the radio as a listening tool when department heads give instructions.

The last thing a crew member wants to do is ask a question that was already answered over the radio. The crew must train themselves to pick out and listen to their department’s voices.

Push to Talk

The timing of when a person speaks and the speed at which they click and hold down, or release, the talk button makes the difference in whether their comment is understood. To ensure that your voice is heard, hold down the talk button for half of a beat before speaking. Also, finish your complete comment before releasing the talk button.

If a person asks you to repeat your comments, do not get nervous and speak faster or before the radio is fully clicked and engaged. Instead, slow down and make sure the button is completely down, then speak clearly and concisely. Keep in mind that the repeat request might not be about you, but the noisy environment the other crew person might be in.

State the Players

When you click the talk button to begin a conversation, state your name and the person you need to speak with. A couple of examples include “Jeremy to Maverick,” or “Sound to Transport.” If there are too many Jeremys on set, state your department with your name, like “Make-up Jeremy to Maverick.”

Once you’ve released the talk button, listen for the response. The person might respond in one of several ways. This might include:

  • “Jeremy, you’ve got Maverick”
  • “Maverick here”
  • “Go ahead, Jeremy”
  • “Hi, Jeremy”

Be patient if the person can’t respond right away, as you won’t know why they’re delayed.

Keep It Brief

Conversations on the main channel must be kept brief. Anything beyond a couple of sentences requires the conversation to be moved to channel 2. This is done by saying, “Switch to channel 2.” The proper response is “Switching to 2.”

While channel 2 is off the beaten path of most conversations, it isn’t a private channel. Make sure you don’t say anything you’ll regret later.

Speak Clearly

Speak slowly and clearly, holding the microphone 1-2 inches from your mouth. Any closer and your voice will distort. Any farther away and you might not be heard. There is no reason to yell into the radio.

Part of clarity is knowing what you want to say before speaking. Crew members don’t want to talk on the fly and find themselves saying something that comes across as odd and makes everyone laugh. They might never be able to live it down.

Clarity might also be achieved on windy days by cupping your hand around the microphone so the wind doesn’t distort your words.

Care for Your Radio

The battery will eventually die. Fresh batteries are typically available in various locations around the set. If you find yourself in an urgent situation, ADs often carry a spare battery, but you didn’t hear that from me.

Also, do what you can to keep your radio dry from the rain. Having a faulty radio due to rain will make your day miserable.

The best way to protect your radio, regardless of the weather conditions, is to get familiar with it. Just as sharpshooters are able to assemble and disassemble their guns blindfolded, you need to know your radio as an extension of yourself.

Make sure you can turn it on and off, adjust the volume, and switch between channels, all without looking. Use the properly assigned channels and know when to move between them to facilitate longer conversations.

In no time, you’ll be able to have a conversation with the person in front of you, while listening to the person calling you on the radio. Your walkie-talkie communication skills will make for a successful production.

Copyright © 2023 by CJ Powers

Relax During the Holidays

Relax during the holidays with these five steps.

The missing Christmas music in stores, the congested checkout lines, and the lack of manger scenes in town are all symptoms of a hectic life. The holidays can be stressful for many, with the added pressure of gift-giving, traveling, and family gatherings. It’s essential to take time for yourself and relax during this busy season.

Here are a handful of tips for relaxing during the holidays:

Practice Mindfulness

Being in the moment can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths and focusing on who or what is in front of us. Shutting off the past and the future opens us up to the unique things that only happen in the present moment. Let go of your worries and stress, and be present by listening to others and observing their actions.

Do you know what I like most about practicing mindfulness?

When I listen attentively with a clear focus on the person I’m with, I remember what they say for weeks to come. I don’t have to memorize anything because the information is naturally stored in my brain for recall.

Take a Break from Social Media

It’s easy to get caught up in the constant stream of information and updates on social media, but it can also be overwhelming. Taking a break from screens can help you relax and recharge. Avoiding flickering images for a time will relax your mind.

There’s a direct correlation between social media viewing into the wee hours and exhaustion from a lack of sleep. Some compensate by using special glasses or blue light but turning off all devices an hour before bedtime is much easier. After a week of this practice, you’ll find improved levels of deep sleep.

Exercise or Do Something Active.

Physical activity can help reduce stress and improve your mood. Whether going for a walk or hitting the gym, finding time for movement can do wonders for your relaxation.

Numerous publications remind us that our bodies were never designed for sitting. Using standing desks, short breaks at the top of every hour, and parking in a spot further from the door always adds to our movement and health.

Find a Hobby or Activity that Brings Joy

Whether reading, knitting, model making, or cooking, finding something you enjoy can be a great way to relax and unwind. Hobbies and sports can bring balance to our lives with a refreshing turn of events or life patterns. Any form of recreation will reenergize our minds and bodies.

Make Time for Self-Care

This could be as simple as taking a hot bath or getting a massage. Taking time for yourself can help you relax and recharge. More importantly, it’ll help you build self-confidence and see your innate value, not your performance value.

Remember, taking a break and relaxing during the holidays is okay. It’s essential to take care of yourself and not get too caught up in the hustle and bustle. Try incorporating some relaxation techniques into your holiday routine and see how they work.

Copyright © 2022 by CJ Powers

Bowling Like A Hunter

Photo by Skitterphoto on

I was bowling with a competitive business executive, racecar driver, and hunter. All four of us had demonstrated significant wins in our life and had benefitted greatly from our efforts. While we all knew that bowling was not our strong suit, no one wanted to lose.

When I say wasn’t our strong suit, I mean we struggled to break a score of 100.

Everyone’s first frame was dismal. By the second frame, the business executive got the first rare strike. He set the tone for everyone’s desire. But the hunter’s ball found the gutter all too easily while the rest of us tallied our pins with every attempt.

By the fourth frame, the hunter finally got a significant amount of pins down and announced that while he couldn’t win, he decided to set a steady pace to hit a score of 100. The rest of us took solace in his lowered expectation and engaged in a pursuit to surpass his trivial goal. We knew who the loser was going to be. Now we had to discover which of us would rise to the winner’s circle.

The executive’s score zipped ahead of us, causing the racecar driver to try different grips and techniques. Once he found the right groove, he was too far behind to catch up.

I worked hard to keep up with the executive, but he gained 1-3 pins over me in each frame. I couldn’t do a thing to exceed his play, but I pressed forward, knowing that the pressure of the win might cause the executive to choke. And if he choked enough times, I could find myself as the winner. But that’s not how things turned out.

The hunter had continued his methodical approach. By the 8th frame, the executive felt the pressure rise as the hunter got within less than a few pins of his score. With his lead dwindling, the pressure impacted the executive’s game. He choked twice and lost the lead.

The hunter achieved his goal of breaking 100 points with a final score of 104. The executive came in at 98. I reached 94. And, the video scoring screen turned off before I could see the racecar driver’s loss.

We, who had laughed at the measly goal of 100 pins, couldn’t reach that minimum. But the one man who focused on making every frame count in achieving his realistic goal was honored with the win. He proved that no matter how fast we are, how good we troubleshoot, or chase after bragging rights, the sure-footed steps of a humble man will always prevail.

Copyright © 2022 by CJ Powers