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Working with a European Crew


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#1 Megan Woeppel

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 09:51 PM

Hey guys,

I am DPing a film that is shooting in the country of Georgia (eastern europe). I am bringing my camera crew from Los Angeles, but my gaffer and the rest of my G&E will be local Georgians.

We are getting most of our equipment in Europe (shooting on a Sony XD F350 camera).

Do any of you have any tips for working with a European crew and dealing with the language barrier? I will have a translator on set, but I am still concerned with communication.

Any tips or info you can give me would be awesome!

Thanks,
Megan
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#2 A.Burak Turan

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 03:49 AM

Hi Megan,

Some of the crew is from the old Russia, but they dont do lots of work so they are not very energetic. But they surely have the discipline and good altitude, there's not good equipment in the meaning of lights and etc. Keeping calm with good vibes of energy will let you have good relation with the crew. I use to have some telephone numbers of crews there but i should check if i still keep them.

Good Luck




Hey guys,

I am DPing a film that is shooting in the country of Georgia (eastern europe). I am bringing my camera crew from Los Angeles, but my gaffer and the rest of my G&E will be local Georgians.

We are getting most of our equipment in Europe (shooting on a Sony XD F350 camera).

Do any of you have any tips for working with a European crew and dealing with the language barrier? I will have a translator on set, but I am still concerned with communication.

Any tips or info you can give me would be awesome!

Thanks,
Megan


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#3 Warwick Hempleman

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 07:19 AM

If you can bring your gaffer it will be a huge load off your shoulders. Having said that, ask for at least one interpreter just for you and your crew. You should have one for camera, and one for lighting. Interpreters and labor in general is cheap, so don't hesitate to ask for more bodies.

Where is your equipment coming from, i. e., which rental house and what country? There may be a lot of items that you would assume to be standard that are not used in your shooting area at all. Having lived and worked in Germany and both Western and Eastern Europe for the past 20 years, items that come to mind include sash cord, paper tape, foamcore, extensive gel sets, enough sandbags to fly anything and so on.

As Mr. Turan says, some of the crew members will be knowledgeable and enthusiastic, but some will indeed be useless. Things will probably go a lot more slowly than you are anticipating. A lot of places here use what I call the "Big Happy Family" school of crewing, where the departments are very fluidly defined and people tend to work together as needed. This has it's advantages but also generally precludes doing complicated large setups.

Be prepared to deal with some serious chauvinism issues, especially in eastern Europe.
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#4 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 08:17 AM

... there are plenty of good professionals in eastern Europe, there are modern facilities and gear (in some places...) and in my experience eastern european crews are better at mucking in and helping each other than some american and british crews. They work long hours like we all do but for a lot less money than we do... Language is the main barrier but many of the younger members of crews learn english from a young age these days...
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#5 Megan Woeppel

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 01:03 PM

Thanks guys.

Unfortunately I don't know what rental house or city we are getting equipment from. We are shooting in the country of Georgia, but that's really all I know. I gave my equipment list to the director (a Georgian living and working here who wants to shoot there) because he is the only one who knows Kartuli or anything about the country. So I who knows if I'm even going to get everything on the list.

Do any of you know if the lighting is the same? I've tried researching this but all the websites I've found have generally not been in english. I know they work on a European 220v system, but what about the actual lights? Are there 5ks, Kinos, etc, or do they work on a different system?

Thanks again, you've given me really valuable info!
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#6 Ivan Alferov

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 02:28 PM

Hi Megan,

The Georgia is a part of ex USSR.And there 220 V. / 50 Hz system. I don't know exactly what light equipment they have now - it can be "Arri" or "De Sisti" lighting products (and surely "dedoligt" with "kinoflo") - but also they have a lot of old soviet light (both tungsten and HMI)

Unfortunately I don't know what rental house or city we are getting equipment from


This is very important information for you. If it will be Russian rental house gaffer can be very good (and English-speaking).

I've tried researching this but all the websites I've found have generally not been in english.


If it was Russian websites, i can help with translation :rolleyes:


Good Luck


P.S. ...and sorry for my english
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#7 Warwick Hempleman

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 11:04 PM

Assume that your equipment list will get mangled if you don't babysit it diligently. Insist on talking with the rental house. Get involved soon with your translator to have him / her learn the equivalent terms for the gear, or what you're being offered as substitutes. There will be some gear that may be known by the UK name instead of the US one. If there are items your house isn't sure of, send a picture. They're sure to have E-mail. And once you arrive, be sure to visit the rental house(s) and get to know the people there right away. They'll appreciate the interest, and you'll see what they actually have on the shelves. (Some US swag still goes a long way, too - think Panavision baseball hats, etc).

As to the actual lights, if you're lucky you'll be provided with all new (or fairly new) ARRI units. No Mole, no US brands at all (unless you count Kino Flo). Desisti & Ianiro gear may be available, as well as some older LTM heads or newer K5600 ones. Dedo Lights will be available. Your cable runs and power distribution system will probably be much better quality than you expect, but generators may be disastrous - think unsynced & unblimped construction site units.

With HMIs Bulb life will be all over the place, bring a good color temp meter.

Georgia is still pretty remote for emergency orders or spare parts. Even if an air courier can get replacements out same day, they will almost surely languish several days in customs before getting to the set.

I agree with what the other guys are saying as well.
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#8 Bruce Greene

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 07:12 AM

Hey guys,

I am DPing a film that is shooting in the country of Georgia (eastern europe). I am bringing my camera crew from Los Angeles, but my gaffer and the rest of my G&E will be local Georgians.

We are getting most of our equipment in Europe (shooting on a Sony XD F350 camera).

Do any of you have any tips for working with a European crew and dealing with the language barrier? I will have a translator on set, but I am still concerned with communication.

Any tips or info you can give me would be awesome!

Thanks,
Megan


Hi Megan,

I'm in Batumi, Georgia right now shooting a Russian feature.

Here's what I've experienced:

Everyone will say everything is perfect with the equipment. It won't be. No one will tell you if something is missing, like ladders for the grip truck, a camera truck big enough for a (semi-major) feature film etc. I have no scrims for my lamps and almost no open faced nets of any kind.

My equipment comes from Ukraine (by ship to Batumi on the Black Sea). Lighting and grip is from a bad film school. It can get frustrating.

I would strongly suggest bringing a Gaffer from the US, if only to keep on top of the equipment list and make sure he/she has what he needs. My crew is from Moscow and Kiev (with a few from Georgia) so we work in the Russian system. Camera crews will not place actors marks or do the slate. This is the responsibility of the AD department and they will find the least experienced and cheapest people to do these jobs as they think it is dumb labor here :) Hey, I'm a guest in a foreign land working on a foreign film (I"m the only US person here, and the film is in Russian) and I'm learning to roll with the punches.

On the plus side, people in Georgia are welcoming and generous beyond description. The food is very, very good as well, but limited in variety.

Weather here changes very rapidly and rains a bit this time of year.

What else can I tell you? I'm not sure, but I think you will love your time in Georgia. I'll be here till the end of May, so if you're in Batumi, drop me an email! If you're shooting later in the year, I might have some crew recommendations for you.

Best of luck!

-bruce alan greene
dp - Kill the King
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#9 Megan Woeppel

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 04:40 PM

I've been really pulling to bring my own gaffer, but that hasn't gone over well. Thanks for all the input, it's really helping me know what to expect.

Bruce - how has communication with your crew been? Do you speak russian, or do they speak english? If you (or they) don't, how are you communicating with them?

Luckily I am bringing all of my own camera department, and the production is bring their own AD's, so we will work on the American system of slating and marking.

Unfortunately I leave in 2 weeks, and the director and producers don't speak english very well at all, so the communication as far as my needs go has been very... difficult and limited. However, I am arriving a week before principal photography begins so I am hoping to go to the rental house, wherever that may be, and meet the people and go through all the equipment myself.

Thanks again for all your help, it's really given me a lot to plan for and think through.
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#10 Bruce Greene

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 06:56 PM

Bruce - how has communication with your crew been? Do you speak russian, or do they speak english? If you (or they) don't, how are you communicating with them?


I have an interpreter who has become more of a personal assistant than interpreter. Now that I think of it, I think every DP should have a personal assistant. Especially when on location. We'll have to bring this up in the next contract...My Gaffer speaks english well enough, as well as the director. The 1st AD can speak a little english, but enough for me to get my point across. I have learned about 20-30 words in Russian so far :) My camera operator doesn't speak much english, but understands pretty well also...and he is a very fine operator from Moscow. The most important reason for the interpreter is to maintain good relations with the actors and other crew members who can't speak any english, at least for me.

And shooting digital is a good idea here. It takes me about a week to get dailies from Istanbul.

Megan, enjoy your trip and make a great film!

-bruce
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