A guide to using Walkies

Walkies are the industry standard method for communication. The Motorola CP200 is the staple of all walkies and has been around for decades. On larger shows there are so many walkies that the production will often designate a PA to manage them.  Failing to rent walkies or choosing to use cheaper ones will slow down any production immensely and is not recommended.

Labeling Walkies:
*DON’T use BLUE PAPER Tape or something with a Dark Color.
*Using a sharpie write the person’s first name at the top of the tape.
*DON’T write the person’s last name.
*Write the person’s position below their name and abbreviate when possible. ie… use DP, PD, 1st AD etc.

Properly labeling walkies will help your crew to learn names and know what each person is doing.

Checking Out Walkies:
*Use this check-out form to keep track of who has what walkie. Failing to do so could result in a lost or stolen walkie, headset or battery.
*Once you have each crew person fill out this form, transfer the walkie number to a master list and be sure to make a copy.  Sometimes I will use the back of a call sheet and write the numbers down next to the person’s name.

Do NOT give walkies to a Director.  Assistant Directors and PAs should always communicate info from a Director to someone else through the use of walkies.
Depending on the situation you may or may not give walkies to Hair, Makeup, DP, PD or the Costume Designer. On smaller shows these people will most likely get a walkie, however on larger ones they will most likely not need one.
Cast should never have to deal with using a walkie except in instances such as road work, riding horses or being isolated from the rest of the crew such as when rock climbing etc.

Industry Standard Walkie Channels:

Channel 1: Production
Channel 2: OPEN
Channel 3: Transpo
Channel 4: Art
Channel 5: OPEN
Channel 6: Camera
Channel 7: Electric
Channel 8: Grip

Walkie Etiquette:

When you have crew that have never used Walkies before it is important to show them the essential protocal.  I have outlined some typical walkie scenarios.

Example #1.  John is 10-1. This means that John is going to the bathroom. No need to say 10-2.
Example #2   Hey John can you help me move this table?  John is still in the bathroom so he responds 10-1.
Example #3  Jordan for Mike what’s your 20?  Mike responds I’m over by crafty.
Example #4  Roger for Allan. Allan responds. Go for Allan….what’s up.  If the conversation is short like two sentences then Roger and Allan will discuss on that channel. If the conversation is long Roger will say go to 2.  Allan will then say switching.  Once both are on channel two Allan will say on Two.  Roger will then continue the conversation and then end the conversation saying back to one.
Example #5  The 1st AD asks Ashley can you bring some waters to Talent?  Ashley responds sure can or copy.

Open Walkies:

Assistant Directors hate open walkies. The only occasion that open walkies are a good thing is for transpo in a van or when placing walkies in a vehicle etc. Often times an AD may be yelling over walkie that they need an actor/actress. If for some reason there is an open walkie near said actor then the actor will hear the yelling which is meant only for the ears of the PA or AD team. That being said it is the job of the AD dept to ensure there are no open walkies on set.

Liked it? Take a second to support Brandon Riley on Patreon!

2 Comments A guide to using Walkies

  1. Jerry

    Hey Brandon, thanks a lot for the great insights. I was wondering, as a 1AD who would you absolutely want to have on the same channel as yourself – production channel? Apart from the AD team obviously? What are some best practices?

  2. Brandon Riley

    Hi Jerry….thanks for the comment. Occasionally I will have the script supervisor on the production channel, a member from art department such as the set dresser. In some instances when its a very small shoot such as a low budget commercial you might have everyone on the same channel because the walkie is being used in a less traditional way.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *