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#1 Lindsay Mann

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 03:03 PM

It's great when the crew and production "get it." They know filmmaking and we can have educated conversations. But on some projects, especially student films or shooting HD tapeless, I'm finding the directors, producers, and crew are in the dark. Either they are new to the technology or completely unprepared.

For example, a lot of producers are surprised at the need for and cost of hard drives to back up data. This is the most common problem I face. They are cheap and don't want to buy anything.

I've worked on many projects that seem like great opportunities, either the filmmakers have a fellowship or free airtime, but then I am behind the camera asking some guy to drop a double in the baby or flag off the walls and he looks at me like I have two heads. I end up doing everything myself because they've hired someone to work for free and he doesn't do any work.

The question is this: How do I keep control of the situation, teaching the newbies how to scrim a light or offload P2 footage, without wasting time and sacrificing the quality of my work? I'm not claiming to be an expert on everything, not by a long shot. But how do I keep my cool and produce good work when sometimes it seems as if I'm working all alone? My goal is to have a good relationship with the filmmakers so we can create a good film, and hopefully work together again. I just find myself frustrated sometimes...

Thanks.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 03:15 PM

Not spending a few hundred or thousand dollars to back up a project that cost tens of, or hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars is about the most foolish thing I've ever heard of... and any bond company would agree.
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#3 Will Earl

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 03:58 PM

Your probably going to have to use some of your time initially to show your crew how to do things - even if it is taking away time from other things you need to be doing, hopefully that way when you ask them to do it again at a later time they can do it themselves.
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#4 Jeff Locke

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 04:06 PM

The number one problem I come across is Vocabulary. New people, and students, are unused to common vocab that is used in the profession. Perhaps these newbies do know how to do something, but they are used to a different word or phrase. Especially if they are coming from school or another medium like theater. I always spend time going over vocab with my students.
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#5 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 04:55 PM

Maybe try talking to them about this beforehand. Tell them that you want to schedule some time before the shoot to go over these things with the crew. Tell them how this would be beneficial for them, because everything will run much more smoothly during production, and because it's a free education for everyone.
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#6 Gus Sacks

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 06:35 PM

Maybe try talking to them about this beforehand. Tell them that you want to schedule some time before the shoot to go over these things with the crew. Tell them how this would be beneficial for them, because everything will run much more smoothly during production, and because it's a free education for everyone.


Yeah, that or just say you should get to set a little earlier and go over things. I wouldn't hesitate to be very direct about it, either. Just don't be condescending, or at least in a way they might think you're being that way. If people are working for free and they're new and not completely into it they don't typically have the thickest of skins and get kinda wimpy and sluggish if you're hard on them. Meh.

Also, with backing up, etc... It's their project, unfortunately... so if they don't want to backup then it's their funeral.
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#7 Jim Keller

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 07:05 PM

Sounds like you need to fire your producer! :)

Seriously, though, there's nothing wrong with saying, as you're being interviewed for the position, "How much experience will the crew have?" When they say, "Oh, we're grabbing a bunch of film students from the local community college, but they're really great!" you say, "Then we're going to have to add about 50% more time to the schedule."

When I walk in knowing I'm going to have to teach (in my case I'm usually teaching acting), then I'm fine with it, and so are the people who need to do the learning. What's annoying is when I've been promised professionals and get amateurs. They think I'm an arrogant ass (which, of course, I am, but that's another matter) because I'm telling them how to do their job, and I feel insulted that whoever brought me onto the project really thinks this is the level that I work at. When everyone knows up front that you're going to be the experienced mentor on the set, then everyone's expectations are set appropriately.
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#8 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 07:09 PM

Maybe in the future you should try to get at least one person who knows what they're doing on your crew, i.e., your key grip or gaffer. Explain to production that things will run better that way and will save money in the long run. A film set is not film school. I know everyone has to learn somewhere, but having a whole crew who is learning is a bad idea.
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#9 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 07:53 PM

Maybe in the future you should try to get at least one person who knows what they're doing on your crew, i.e., your key grip or gaffer. Explain to production that things will run better that way and will save money in the long run. A film set is not film school. I know everyone has to learn somewhere, but having a whole crew who is learning is a bad idea.


Brad had it right. But sometimes you get thrown into a situation, and it's up to you to decide how to handle it. There are exceptions to this; some productions were planned so poorly that they there is no fixing them.

I do find that the sooner you explain what you need and want from people (start with needs), the more receptive they will be. Teach people when you tell them something and thank then when they do it right (classical conditioning). be nice, Do your job better than your should, and keep your cool.
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#10 Lindsay Mann

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 09:32 AM

Thanks for those suggestions. Brad, you make a good point. I always try to have a good AC, but maybe having a Gaffer that could teach others is good too. It's always a money thing.

And maybe as tapeless workflows are more accepted producers will begin to realize about backing up.

Thanks. I am optimistic now.
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#11 Joseph Arch

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 12:01 PM

From my experience when I was at university most students , the new generation of film makers, take drugs and just want to PARTAY!! Hence them being in the shadow when it comes to crunch time about technology and how to make films. What ever they want to do in their lives is up to them but logic dictates that you learn first, work second and party after.

While others are willing to learn and want to get some where in life. There numbers are dwindling.
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#12 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 01:59 PM

...but maybe having a Gaffer that could teach others is good too.


All depends on if you want to spend half your time teaching people, or using that time to be creative. I'd say an experienced/patient Gaffer & AC are necessities in your situation.
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#13 Jase Ryan

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 07:57 PM

I agree... having a gaffer and key grip who know what they are doing is best. Failing that, it would be best to walk everyone through the equipment before hand.

As for backing up the footage, well if producers are getting upset about that cost they are being really stupid. Hard drives are cheap! But always bring that up at the very beginning of a project if you are shooting tapeless. Let them know as far in advance that is something they MUST budget in.

No matter what the situation though, always keep calm. Being upset with someone NEVER makes them work better. The guys looking at you like you have 2 heads are still there trying, they just need your expertise! Always remember when you were starting out and you had some dick yell at you for trying and not knowing. It wasn't your fault, you just didn't know.
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#14 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 08:16 AM

I've labeled every piece of gear in my kit with white gaffers tape and the name of the item along with how many of the item there are. (Cardellini Clamp 1 of 4) There are instructions on the ballasts of my HMI's showing people how to use them so that even someone from Craft service could operate it. I've tried to make my own set as intern friendly as possible so I minimize wasted time. But also, I've found that by doing so it's helped even the qualified set technicians I hire that I maybe haven't worked with before. They might be unfamiliar with some of the more custom items in my gear and the labels help.
Speaking out simple instructions that are as specific as possible also really helps. "Walk lamp left, down on stick, pan right". I would avoid saying something like "Slow down that area above the fireplace by 2 stops." or "Throw a tomato in the baby" Any intern is going to go crazy trying to interpret that.

Edited by Michael LaVoie, 13 February 2009 - 08:18 AM.

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#15 Hal Smith

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 08:41 AM

Maybe in the future you should try to get at least one person who knows what they're doing on your crew, i.e., your key grip or gaffer. Explain to production that things will run better that way and will save money in the long run. A film set is not film school. I know everyone has to learn somewhere, but having a whole crew who is learning is a bad idea.


Exactly! One crew member with some grey in their hair to wrangle a gaggle of film students is always a good idea. I got a phone call a while ago from friend of mine asking if I had a couple of inkies to loan to a student production he was helping out on. I hauled them down to the location, realized they were in way over their head, offered to help out and ended up key gripping the operation...not my speciality but I knew one heck of a lot more about on-set grip work than anyone else there. Had a ball.
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#16 David Auner aac

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 08:55 AM

I agree... having a gaffer and key grip who know what they are doing is best.


Yes, second that. It's also about safety. Inexperienced crews will often do things the dangerous way. And you can't always do 80% of the work alone and teach a couple of newcomers and watch them how they do things you tell them to! Or you can have a second pair of eyes implanted on the back of your head! :D

Cheers, Dave
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#17 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 11:31 AM

The number one problem I come across is Vocabulary. Perhaps these newbies do know how to do something,


What's a newbie?
:P
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#18 Joseph Arch

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 01:38 PM

I is teh n00b :P
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#19 Dev Varma

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 07:49 AM

It's great when the crew and production "get it." They know filmmaking and we can have educated conversations. But on some projects, especially student films or shooting HD tapeless, I'm finding the directors, producers, and crew are in the dark. Either they are new to the technology or completely unprepared.

For example, a lot of producers are surprised at the need for and cost of hard drives to back up data. This is the most common problem I face. They are cheap and don't want to buy anything.

I've worked on many projects that seem like great opportunities, either the filmmakers have a fellowship or free airtime, but then I am behind the camera asking some guy to drop a double in the baby or flag off the walls and he looks at me like I have two heads. I end up doing everything myself because they've hired someone to work for free and he doesn't do any work.

The question is this: How do I keep control of the situation, teaching the newbies how to scrim a light or offload P2 footage, without wasting time and sacrificing the quality of my work? I'm not claiming to be an expert on everything, not by a long shot. But how do I keep my cool and produce good work when sometimes it seems as if I'm working all alone? My goal is to have a good relationship with the filmmakers so we can create a good film, and hopefully work together again. I just find myself frustrated sometimes...

Thanks.


ya i agree with you...producer didnt realise what problem we face on sets to teach students...and some student think they know everything...its more frustrating...you should become little strict with your producer and tell him if you pay peanuts than you only hire bunch of monkeys... I am not against any student...they have to learn some where...but film making is not easy..you can request producer to get one experiance guy as gaffer or your assistant. best of luck...
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