Membership Resources

Starting Work on a Production

Congratulations! You’re starting a new job on an IATSE Local 849 production. Here are a couple of notes to be aware of on your first day:

First Steps

You’ve probably been hired as a “daily”. A daily is only guaranteed one day of work. When you are hired as a daily, and you know you will be reporting to set, it is important to ask to be sent the call sheet when it is distributed. If you are a weekly hire, you should already be on the distro. Call sheets are always distributed by email, so if you’re not in the habit of checking emails regularly, now is the time to start. Some positions’ work is not tied to set or the shooting unit, so you may be asked simply to report to a meeting point (studio, lock-up, etc.)

Ask if there are any specific tools or garments you should bring or wear for the day (ie. multitool, rain gear, wrenches, hip waders, drill). Closed-toed/heeled shoes are strongly recommended - sandals, flip-flops or crocs should not be worn on set. If the ask seems excessive, please contact the Local 849 office for advice. If you don’t have what you are asked to bring (a cordless drill, for example) let them know - it’s not usually a major problem. Be sure to pack layers and an extra change of clothes. You never know what will happen with the weather in the Maritimes. When required, you are responsible for providing your own safety footwear and work gloves.

Start Your Day Right

Be sure to give yourself lots of time to get to the location, set, or studio/shop on your first day. You may have to park at crew park and be shuttled to your working location or park a five-minute walk away, which could take more time than you’d think. Even though there is often clear signage leading you to wherever you’ll need to go, be sure to set yourself up for success by arriving early. This gives you time to find your working location, eat breakfast (if provided), and stash your gear. If you’re unsure, ask whoever hired you where you should report to at your call time. This location can vary greatly from department to department, day to day.

Note that many Productions offer a complimentary grab & go breakfast, usually available near set or basecamp, up until call-time for the crew working on and around set. However, this is not a mandatory contractual provision so you should never assume there will be breakfast available wherever you’re reporting to. For that reason, get a good breakfast into you on that first day. Breakfast is rarely available for crew working ‘off-set’.

Even though you may have been asked about food allergies during the onboarding process, don’t assume that info has made its way to either craft service, catering, or your immediate supervisor.

It’s also a good idea to bring along your own bottle of water.

Depending on the Department you are working in, whether you are on or off set, and if it is pre-production or during principal photography, you may or may not have lunch provided. It is always best to ask whoever contacted you to work if breakfast and lunch will be provided so you can prepare to purchase lunch or bring your own.

Start Packs / Deal Memos

Deal memos are important documents. Please read the following information.

When starting a job on a new production, you will be asked to complete a start pack. Items to fill out, provide and/or sign off on may include an IATSE Local 849 deal memo, a Production-specific deal memo, a payroll company ‘start-slip’, proof of residency, tax documents, and any company policies. You must submit these documents promptly to receive pay from production. YOU WILL NOT GET PAID IF YOU DO NOT COMPLETE YOUR START PACK IN A TIMELY MANNER. The usual deadline for submitting your start pack is the Monday after your work week at noon. However, this is not the case with all shows, so make sure you ask production. This ensures that production can process your documents and pay you on the company’s usual pay day. Your paycheck will be for your previous week’s work.

Studios, companies, and employers all have their own sets of policies and procedures. As long as these policies and procedures don't conflict with our Collective Agreement, human rights legislation, WCB regulations, or any other provincial, federal or territorial law, they are entitled to have them.

Residency documentation is necessary for production to receive federal and provincial incentives and may change from production to production. Please contact the payroll accountants if you have any questions regarding residency documents. 

No Standard Deal Memo

Carefully read each deal memo. They can vary significantly from production to production. There is almost always a Union (Local 849) Deal Memo and a separate Production Deal Memo.

Even though you may not yet be a member of Local 849, be sure to indicate that you’re working through the Union. Do not select the Non-Union option; there will typically be a spot later for you to indicate that you’re a “Non-Member”.

Take the Time

Employers should know that it could take up to 45 minutes to read and sign a deal memo and they expect you to do that. Depending on the show, we expect that you are doing it on company time and that you are being paid to fulfill that obligation. 

Some productions demand that you complete your start-pack on company time, but it is often easier for you to do it at home when you have a few spare moments to gather the required documents. It is also much easier to complete this task on a laptop than on a smartphone.

Most productions are now using ‘digital’ start packs. You should receive an email link to ‘onboard’ to the show. It is not always an easy thing to navigate. Once you have submitted your deal memo, you will get an email that says it is pending, if there is further action required, or if the start park has been approved. Be sure to regularly check your email to ensure that you don’t miss receiving your deal memo or a request for more information.

Take Deal Memos Seriously

If you find yourself facing disciplinary action for breaking company policy, claiming ignorance because you have not read the deal memo or company policies is not an acceptable excuse. Nor is it acceptable to believe a rule does not apply to you because you think it is unreasonable, or you think IATSE Local 849 believes it to be unreasonable. Even if we are successful in overturning any disciplinary action, it may take six months to several years to go through the process, which could have a huge impact on your career and limit your entitlement to work for certain employers during the process.

Getting Paid

Most productions will pay their workers on a weekly basis. This “payday” can differ, from project to project. Some shows will have options for direct deposit, some will deliver cheques on set, and others will mail you cheques if you are not present on payday. If it has been over a week since the designated payday and you have not received payment, please contact the production company. If you have any other issues receiving payment or if the production company does not get back to you in a reasonable amount of time, please contact the Local 849 office.

Licenses and Certificates

Make sure to have your valid trade certificates/licenses with you when you report to work. If you are asked to perform a task that requires a special license or certification (ie. working at heights, driving a vehicle), please be prepared to show a copy of a valid license or certification. Please keep your profile with IATSE Local 849 up-to-date with your licenses and certifications. When you send in certifications and licenses to Local 849, we update the certifications portion of your profile that is visible on the daily hire list.

In some circumstances, you will be asked to upload a copy of a certificate/license when you are filling out your start pack. If you are taking a job that will require you to drive a production vehicle, for example, or on a show that requires vaccinations.

Safety First

If you feel like the work you’ve been tasked to perform is unsafe, it’s your responsibility to speak up. If you have any concerns about safety, please reach out to your Safety Rep or Shop Steward. The set safety rep and shop steward (sometimes called the crew rep) are listed on the first page of the call sheet, usually at the bottom. They can give you guidance on the next steps. If you become injured on the job, it is important to report the incident to your department head, an AD, or safety rep, immediately.

The IATSE Safety App

The IATSE Safety Info App is a tool you can use to report unsafe work conditions. Whether it be safety concerns or harassment, the Safety App is for all safety issues. The app allows you to submit a Hazard Form with your information attached or you can choose to submit a report anonymously. For urgent safety concerns, inform your Safety Rep.

Download the App here:
App Store
Google Play


IATSE Local 849

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Phone: 902-425-2739
Toll-Free: 1-877-425-2741



1-617 Windmill Road, 2nd Floor
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia B3B 1B6

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