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Code of Conduct - On set


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#1 Marcus Frakes

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 05:51 PM

Had a strange experience on location for a feature. It felt like people just weren't into being chummy there.... I understand that you keep out of the way of production, don't approach the "big name stars", don't say "Howdy" to the director and blab how much you liked this film or that.

I did ask the DoP if the camera he used had a Viewfinder shutter (was met by an "uh huh" response). I guess it just felt weird. Are most sets expecting you to like shut up, do your job, then go the hell away? Is there somewhere a Code of Conduct written somewhere when you are on location? Why does heirarchy feel more like a caste system?

I am always polite, clean cut, decent looking, respectful and usually successful in socializing. But I just don't understand why the attitude on most locations. Is it fear? Arrogance? Any insight into this culture would be appreciated.
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#2 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 06:45 PM

I think it tends to vary with the personalities involved. I have worked with some crews who were not fun at all; I didn't work with them again. If I am going to do this stuff, it should at least have some moments of fun.

I guess if the shoot is going terrible and everyone is getting killed working, then people are not in the best of moods, but even then with the right crew, laughter happens.

That said, there is a hierarchy, and it should be respected to a certain extent. A lot of questioning is about timing, the DP may not have been in a place where he could/ want to talk a lot. Try it at lunch.


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#3 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 07:55 PM

Marcus,
What was your position on the job? Your profile says 'Director', but I think it's safe to assume your weren't directing.
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#4 Daniel Smith

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 08:21 PM

I think arrogance for the most part.

For instance, I've asked several people if I could be involved in their film in some way. They tend to give me a 'maybe' and a cold shoulder. Without trying to sound arrogant myself here, I've found that some of the people that have given me the cold shoulder have been less experienced and knowledgable than myself.

Of course they could give me a position in the film. But no, they couldn't give away the positions that freely. That would undermine the importance and gold shine of the positions, which of course are reserved only for the "professionals". (Like bo**ocks)

From my experience the people who get the position of DP or Director tend to sit on a very high horse. They like to give off the impression that they are professional and have worked on many large scale productions. When really they've just bought an expensive camera and worked on their image. (i.e. they wear certain clothing, they speak a certain way, embrace a specific humour, they know who to give respect and who not to)

On a film I was involved in some time ago, one of the actors gave me no respect, however when he met a "big-shot" like himself, the DP, I noticed he wasn't so cocky. (May I also mention that both these people were hired from shootingpeople.org and their resumes weren't all that better than mine.)

So no. When these people ignore you on set, I'm certain half the time they're just being a**holes to uphold their image as someone big and important.

Edited by Daniel Ashley-Smith, 15 September 2006 - 08:24 PM.

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#5 Patrick McGowan

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 10:08 PM

I've only encountered one production where this has happened, and it was the most professional one I've worked on to date, so maybe that's a sign.

With that said, the crew is there to work. It's their livelyhood. They really have more important tasks to take care of than trying to have little side conversations and so on. I would agree that plenty of people, even people you may meet in school act like they're fu**in' Stanley Kubrick and your some idiot who just woke up yesterday and decided to pick up a camera and it pisses me off to get treated like poop.
But it's one of those things.

OK, I'm done venting. Sorry.
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#6 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 10:15 PM

The number of days of the production can matter as well.

If it's a month long shoot, then there is plenty of time to find a moment for idle chit chat. If it's a one day shoot then it can cut either way, there just isn't time because the schedule is tight, or it's going to be a fun day and a few minutes of idle chat here or there is welcomed.
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#7 Marcus Frakes

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 04:16 AM

Marcus,
What was your position on the job? Your profile says 'Director', but I think it's safe to assume your weren't directing.


I was consulting on the visual effects scenes. I found out from others that the DoP gets irrate whenever he has to do extra takes (makes sense). But if there's motion in the forbidden zone or NO clean plates, they will pay for it anyways (that is IF we can fix it). But I'm gathering that because that's on the post end rather than production, his "numbers" will look better?? :o

thanks for the input.
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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 07:14 AM

Hi,

Try being a DIT:

- The AC hates you because he thinks you're trying to take his job
- The 1st AD hates you becaue he thinks you're trying to slow him down
- The cast hate you because they think they won't look as good
- The DP hates you because he thinks his work won't look as good
- The sound department hate you because you need, well, would really like a timecode feed
- The producers hate you because they're uncertain of the technology and consider you a supernumery.
- The equipment supplier hates you because he thinks you're making his equipment look bad.

I could go on.

Phil
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#9 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 08:05 AM

Being a DP involves alot of juggling of various things. Distractions can be annoying on set and understanding this is part of what being professional is all about.
Don't take it personally, try to be understanding and learn from the experience.
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#10 Daniel Smith

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 08:36 AM

Being a DP involves alot of juggling of various things. Distractions can be annoying on set and understanding this is part of what being professional is all about.
Don't take it personally, try to be understanding and learn from the experience.

True. But I think on the indie side of the industry, people do like to show off.
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#11 Daniel Smith

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 08:49 AM

Actually, I'd like to get some more opinions on this. When the producer/director/DP texts or e-mails you, they usually start with your first name, place a comma in front, and then continue the message.

Like this:

"Daniel, we will begin the shoot at 11:00 ..... ... e.t.c."

When I receive messages like this, I don't take it as a personal insult, but I'm always sensing a patronising stern voice when it starts with my first name.

When I send people messages, I always start with "Hi Dan" or something like that.

If I ever start with some ones first name it's often if I think they are a bit weird and that I mention their name first to get their attention. As if I'm distracting their attention from everything else in their ditsy world and forcing them to focus on the one thing. Patronising them.

I'm guessing whoever?s messaging me is trying to 'up' his/her image and 'down' mine, either that or that I'm paranoid.

I think other people see what they are doing, and then copy. There's like some 'dress code' in the industry.
(Difference with me is that I will always be myself, I purposely refuse to copy how other people are acting, I see myself as above it. :P )
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#12 Richard Boddington

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 09:34 AM

Hi,

Try being a DIT:

- The AC hates you because he thinks you're trying to take his job
- The 1st AD hates you becaue he thinks you're trying to slow him down
- The cast hate you because they think they won't look as good
- The DP hates you because he thinks his work won't look as good
- The sound department hate you because you need, well, would really like a timecode feed
- The producers hate you because they're uncertain of the technology and consider you a supernumery.
- The equipment supplier hates you because he thinks you're making his equipment look bad.

I could go on.

Phil


Sounds great where do I apply?

R,
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#13 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 09:59 PM

Actually, I'd like to get some more opinions on this. When the producer/director/DP texts or e-mails you, they usually start with your first name, place a comma in front, and then continue the message.

Like this:

"Daniel, we will begin the shoot at 11:00 ..... ... e.t.c."

When I receive messages like this, I don't take it as a personal insult, but I'm always sensing a patronising stern voice when it starts with my first name.

When I send people messages, I always start with "Hi Dan" or something like that.

If I ever start with some ones first name it's often if I think they are a bit weird and that I mention their name first to get their attention. As if I'm distracting their attention from everything else in their ditsy world and forcing them to focus on the one thing. Patronising them.

I'm guessing whoever?s messaging me is trying to 'up' his/her image and 'down' mine, either that or that I'm paranoid.


Maybe not paranoid, but I think you are over-analyzing the issue...

Edited by Bill DiPietra, 16 September 2006 - 10:00 PM.

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#14 Alex Wuijts

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 02:17 AM

Maybe not paranoid, but I think you are over-analyzing the issue...


right. it sounds to me he was just trying to be formal, not patronizing.
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#15 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 03:29 AM

I find every set different. This week I lamp oped on Smallville second unit which has a really bad rep for how it treats its lamp ops, I had worked with Gaffer Bruce Borland on a Bollywood feature and went to film school with his best boy and found the show an absolute pleasure to work on and all other day call lamp ops were treated great, even when it was crunch time. But I can see how a show like that can get a bit nasty at times. Smallville is high pressure for its crew and uses complicated lighting for everything including inserts. Things get nasty when people don't do there jobs... and here where things are seniority based and a Gaffer cant chose his crew I believe you should keep your mouth shut and work your ass off till you have proven yourself or your mouth will create tension on set. There is always some green lamp op that comes on set with this attitude and ego because hes making $25 a hour, and people are always weary of these guys when they 1st come on. This is why Smallville has a bad rep, because Bruce isn't afraid to call people on there jobs or lack there of. My situation is different because I had shadowed under DP Glen Winter a few years ago and was friends with the dept. heads, so I had friends and enjoyed myself and the people around me... a feeling I know the new faces would not share if they had a chit chat attitude. Usually everyone is cool... its just sometimes takes a few days to make an impression... I know its lame but just remember your being judged not because of who you are but because of pass experiences.

Edited by Chayse Irvin, 17 September 2006 - 03:32 AM.

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#16 timHealy

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 09:01 AM

There is always some green lamp op that comes on set with this attitude and ego because hes making $25 a hour


I wouldn't be all that arrogant about that. Car mechanics make more money. Aside from PA's, grip and electric thirds are the lowest paid postions on a film or tv show.

Best

Tim
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#17 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 02:39 PM

I wouldn't be all that arrogant about that. Car mechanics make more money. Aside from PA's, grip and electric thirds are the lowest paid postions on a film or tv show.

Best

Tim



Agreed. Maybe why a lot of the people who have been doing it for a while don't have that arrogant attitude, granted its not always the new guys with bad attitudes.
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#18 David Sweetman

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 03:34 PM

Well it's kind of understandable that the DP was somewhat short with you when you asked if his camera had a "viewfinder shutter"...kind of an insignificant question. Assuming the time was right, you might have gotten more if you'd asked what stock he was shooting or inquired about the lenses (assuming you had some foreknowledge to base the question on! don't just ask a 'blind' question if you don't care about the answer, people can sense that as "sucking-up") Considering the question you asked, I really see no problem with him being short, because honestly it shows a lack of knowledge about the equipment.

I've heard stories of such incessant "suggestion makers" and "question askers" that the crew had to make significant effort to deflect them from Directors and DP's...don't be that guy! nobody likes that guy! I can tell that you didn't go anywhre near that extent, but there is a fine line there that shouldn't be crossed.
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#19 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 05:08 PM

Well it's kind of understandable that the DP was somewhat short with you when you asked if his camera had a "viewfinder shutter"...kind of an insignificant question. Assuming the time was right, you might have gotten more if you'd asked what stock he was shooting or inquired about the lenses (assuming you had some foreknowledge to base the question on! don't just ask a 'blind' question if you don't care about the answer, people can sense that as "sucking-up") Considering the question you asked, I really see no problem with him being short, because honestly it shows a lack of knowledge about the equipment.

I've heard stories of such incessant "suggestion makers" and "question askers" that the crew had to make significant effort to deflect them from Directors and DP's...don't be that guy! nobody likes that guy! I can tell that you didn't go anywhre near that extent, but there is a fine line there that shouldn't be crossed.


Great answer. As I was trained as an AC, the rule of thumb in general was to A) concentrate on your own job first and B) let "higher ups" initiate conversation (unless you had a legitimate work question for them).

If the DP wanted to take the camera crew to dinner, we went and I let those above me lead the conversations. Engage some but don't take over. If we're on set, any conversation beyond what was required for the setup or the day just generally didn't happen unless the DP wanted it to. He's got a lot on his mind even if he's not physically doing anything.

As an EPK cameraman now, the conversations are even less so. Some DPs want to come over and ask what camera I'm shooting with and talk "shop" while others barely acknowledge my existence. That's pretty much the way it is with every one on set though. Everyone is there to do their job and your "free time" may not coincide with theirs. Whatever happens, I don't take it personally. If someone doesn't like EPK on set, it isn't because I did anything wrong. It might have been the guy before me that annoyed them.

As a general rule anywhere I work, I assume that everyone is busy and I don't "bother" them unless I know them personally or if I actually need to know something relevant to the day.
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#20 Jayson Crothers

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 02:01 AM

"I've heard stories of such incessant "suggestion makers" and "question askers" that the crew had to make significant effort to deflect them from Directors and DP's...don't be that guy! nobody likes that guy! I can tell that you didn't go anywhre near that extent, but there is a fine line there that shouldn't be crossed."

I photographed a feature out of town about a year ago and the VFX department had a 20 year old intern who fancied himself a cameraman; on a daily basis I'd be at the monitor checking something and he'd pipe in with an opinion about something looking too dark, too bright, etc. I was polite and went to his dept. head first and asked that this intern get an explanation about how this was out of line. When the intern continued to do it, I finally had to pull him aside and tell him he needed to keep his mouth shut because his opinions weren't wanted.

I wasn't being rude, nor was I trying to be a d*ck - an intern sitting at the monitor discussing his opinions of the images (often with the director there, screenwriter, an EP, etc) is unacceptable and he would have known that if he'd paid a bit more attention to his surroundings and talked less (it was his first non-student film experience).

I work entirely in the indie world, and while you'll always find those arrogant wankers who like to pose as being bigger than they really are, in general I always find that people are VERY happy to talk and share..........when it's appropriate. Before call, lunch, or during a long set-up where it's obvious that certain people are standing around killing time. On the whole, don't take it personally if you feel you got blown off - the DP usually has 20 different things going on in his/her mind at any one point.
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