bellSound stages at film and television studios use a universal system of bell ringing, much as a school does, to signal what is happening on set.

When you are working as a stand-in on a sound stage, it is important to know what these bells indicate.

What the Number of Bells Signals

ADs and PAs will call out what is happening on set, but you may not be close enough to hear their voices. In this case, the bells will clue you in as to what is going on.

1 Bell: “Cameras Cut”

2 Bells: “Rehearsing”

3 Bells: “Cameras Are Rolling”

The Red Light

red-lightAnother important feature of this system are the red lights connected to the bell system. These lights may be flashing or static, and they are stationed on the outside of the doors that enter onto the sound stage. The red lights are activated when the cameras roll (3 bells) and deactivated when the cameras cut (1 bell).

You will often see signs near the bells that instruct you not to enter the stage when the red light is flashing or lit. This is very important because the noise from the hallway or street that is let in when sound is rolling can disrupt filming.

How the Bells Help You as a Stand-In

The bells can be an important tool for stand-ins. Based on the number of rings, you will know if and when you’ll be needed.

1 Bell: Cameras Cut

Listen closely for “checking the gate” after you hear the 1 bell ring, signaling that the cameras have cut. You may be needed if there will be no more takes and the next setup is starting.

2 Bells: Rehearsing

If a new scene is beginning, the first AD may ask for 2 bells to be rung to signal for quiet on the stage for rehearsal. Often there is a private rehearsal with the director and actors first, but you should stay close as stand-ins will soon be invited to watch the marking rehearsal of the scene.

3 Bells: Cameras Are Rolling

You may not be sure if there will be another take for the setup. If you hear 3 bells, you will know that the cameras are rolling for another take. Be sure to stay quiet during this time, and do not enter or exit any doors.

How has the bell system helped you as a stand-in? Do you have any more information about the bell system that you would like to share? Please comment below!