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Who's job is it to ring the bell?

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  Hello esteemed fellow sound peeps, I have a question about tradition.  That question is:

Who's supposed to ring the bell?

  Just like how it's supposed to be the key PA who quiets the set, yet nowadays it's us who have to work with locations - is this another thing production is supposed to deal with?  The mentality is that I show up to record sound, and nowhere in my job description is quieting the set, so it would seem ringing the bell would be a courtesy, a favor, and not actually part of the job.

  I feel like I asked this same question years ago so if that's true, apologies!

  Dan Izen

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When I was a kid in Hollywood, the set bell was attached to the sound-chariot, and was rung by the mixer.  When I made my own porto-bell system it was always me that operated it if I was working off a cart.  On smaller jobs on stages where I was one-manning, I'd get production to do it since I had my hands on the pole (and all the systems then were wired--no wireless triggers).  Sometimes production would not help me, so I'd have to reach down and hit the button on the bell-box with the butt of the fishpole.  Good times.  (Nowadays no one understands what bells and lights mean, so no one uses them.)

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I wholeheartedly believe it is not our department's job to get the set quiet. I tell my boom ops and utilities never to shhh people or ask for quiet. Why should we be the bad guys? If a take is ruined (or sometimes even if it's not), I'll ask my boom operator to tell the 1st AD that the take was no good because there was too much noise or work or talking. But usually the actors will take care of noisy sets, or directors. It's hard for actors to concentrate if they hear talking (usually from the operators) or noise from people moving gear or walking around during takes. It took me a while to get to this place, but it's where I am. If a scene takes longer to shoot because of a noisy crew, that's a production problem. If equipment is noisy, we work with the correct department to try to get it quiet.

The bell/light, however, in Los Angeles anyway, is almost exclusively run by the sound mixer. I think it's easier for us to do it, and if it's a PA, then the bell is usually rung too soon or the light is left on too long, then people begin to ignore it. So although I am often forgetful about turning it on or off, I am happy to run it. In England, based on my limited experience, it's the PAs who run it.

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Robert, I remember  Pinewood and Shepperton studios in the UK mid 80's. The red light and bell were the exclusive domain of the Sparks. Last time I was there it was a runner in charge of it and people were wandering in and out when the red was up as all the door interlocks seemed to have been removed or weren't working

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Ah!  Thank you Mista Sharman, and also Mista Davies!  (Here in NOLA "Mista" + first name is the proper term of respect!)

  We are in complete agreement about quieting the set not being our department, but now there's that grey area of the bell & lights.  Their sole purpose is for production, but I guess sound dept. inherited the duty?  Similar to props and the chairs?  Oh well, I guess I'll run it then...

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I said the the bell (and light) were traditionally run by the mixer here on the West coast--I didn't say anything about the sound dept. quieting the set, closing doors, shutting off HVAC etc.  I agree that I don't want to expend good will by doing what I also think is production's job.  However there are some verite-oriented directors who hate all of that pre-rolling ceremony, and won't allow it.  Then it is up to the crew to quiet themselves via a sort of silent "jungle telegraph" kind of technique.  This works only marginally well.

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8 hours ago, Malcolm Davies Amps CAS said:

Robert, I remember  Pinewood and Shepperton studios in the UK mid 80's. The red light and bell were the exclusive domain of the Sparks. Last time I was there it was a runner in charge of it and people were wandering in and out when the red was up as all the door interlocks seemed to have been removed or weren't working

Here in LA on the studio lots, it's the IBEW Local 40 union that supplies the bell and light on stage and in the back-lots, and is in charge of its maintenance. They also supply power to the stages. But power on set to power gear or set lighting is handled by IATSE Local 728. Power at base camp is handled by Local 399 Teamster union or a Local 40 member on some studio shows. Off the studio lots, the bell and light is supplied and maintained by the facility. On "other" stages, like warehouses, bell and light is rare but would be rented by production from a rental house. Or from me!!

I happen to own a 4-station system :-)

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39 minutes ago, Philip Perkins said:

So....those people supply and power and maintain the bell/light nowadays....do they ring it for each roll/cut too?  Or are mixers still doing that? 

Haha! Can you imagine an old 40 shop guy sitting on stage ringing the bell :-)

We've run the bell as long as I can remember or have observed. Although I did work on one job at Downy "Studios" where the bell controller was in the middle of the giant former Boeing plant. A PA was hired specifically to run the bell. That was it. No other responsibilities. Sat in a chair all day waiting to be instructed to go "on a bell".

 

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NYC house rules assign bell/light privileges to a PA and they typically do a great job of it.

Grateful for that.

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Gotta be AD department

Modern sound mixers have too much to contend with as well as shouting "Quiet" even after turnover.

I often cry I'm not turning over until I hear quiet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

mike

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The Bells The Bells,

I have always believed that it is the sound department's responsibility to run the light and bells, when they are made available to us on set. Occasionally when the control doesn't reach to where I want to set up, or there is a possibility of getting an electric shock, like when working over a water tank set or something, I will ask production to do the lights and bells and they will usually oblige without a fuss.

I do say that if on a particular day the mixer is feeling overwhelmed, huge complicated scenes multiple booms and lots of wires, and at that time he/she doesn't want the added responsibility of the light and bell control. I see nothing wrong with asking production to assign someone to look after L & B till you are back to a less stressful scenario..

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