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Difficult crew members


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#1 Joe Riggs

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 09:09 AM

Hello,

Often times in Student productions your forced to work in groups and occasionally a member of the group is difficult to work with. This is currently the situation I'm in kind of...I directed a previous project where this person (someone who usually directs but was in a different position in the project) was involved and perhaps their intentions were to not malign but often times he would be giving direction to actors and just generally upsetting the crew by his demanding attitude, so much so that we needed to have a talk about it.

Well now that same individual is in my group again, and I want to nip it the bud , so I'll probably talk with him and reiterate what I said previously but I need to decide what crew position to put him in, hopefully one were they would be the least trouble. I was thinking perhaps A.D., as this person likes to be in control , so they will get to somewhat control the set, but hopefully will work closely with me to achieve a common goal. I was also contemplating maybe a position in the art department (i.e. Production designer, or Art director) in order to limit his interaction with actors and or crew members during principal photography. How would you handle this situation and what crew position would you put them in?
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#2 Serge Teulon

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 11:57 AM

Hi Joe,

It's a pain in the arse(ass for US fellows) when you have to deal with something like this.
However, I think this exercise is great for you as it's completely replicating what you need to deal with, more often than not, outside of film school.

IMO I wouldn't single him out. Nobody likes to be made to feel as an exception.
As the Director (am I right in assuming that you are in this new project?) I would get your all of your crew together and reiterate to everybody how you want the ship to sail.
Like that you are not casting him out and more like including him in it. Also, if he deviates then you have full group support in whatever action you decide to take.
It's not like he wasn't warned!

I'm sure it will be fine and hope that your shoot goes well.

Good Luck!
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#3 Jim Keller

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 12:43 PM

I actually would not put such an individual in a position where he actually has authority over the actors, because if he hasn't learned his lesson, it will make it even easier to give direction and undermine you. If you want to give him authority (and if he's good at having such authority), but not give him any creative control, assigning him as your production manager may be a better choice. But don't undermine your production by making him happy. Put him where he will do the best job. Period.

That said, I've seen it happen many, many times when working with college students that someone who was a real nightmare just a semester ago somehow figured it out (usually because someone they respect gave them a stern talking to) and became a dream to work with thereafter, so I would always give such a student the benefit of the doubt.

You should also arrange to give the whole crew the "I respect all the voices of my team, and I encourage to come to me with your ideas, but when we're on the set please respect that the cast and crew need direction to be coming from a single source, which will be me," speech before the first day of shooting.
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#4 Brenda Gough

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 02:17 PM

Hi Joe,

It's a pain in the arse(ass for US fellows) when you have to deal with something like this.
However, I think this exercise is great for you as it's completely replicating what you need to deal with, more often than not, outside of film school.


One of the things learned in college (in mine, anyway) is to know your role and stay within it. Sounds to me like you're a very decent person and the ego-maniac that you're having to deal with is very lucky, Joe!
Have you just considered telling the person? They'll not get it so easy in the industry ;)
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#5 Tim Fabrizio

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 03:39 PM

Put him in charge of craft services.
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#6 Andy Karkut

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 04:42 PM

If you must use him, then figure out a way -- some great suggestions above.

But if per chance you can avoid including him, then exclude him altogether. In my experience I'd rather deal with a slight delay or more work than having a negative presence on the set.

Good luck, and let us know how it went.
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#7 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 06:36 PM

As mentioned already, part of the lesson for anyone who wants to be in this very interactive business is to understand what it is you are hired to do TODAY and only do that job. No matter how wonderful of a Director or DP you have been in the past on your own projects, if you agree to work as an [fill in the job here], then it's your responsibility to do that specific job even if you think the Director (or whoever else) is screwing up. That's your opinion but it's not your place to "fix" things.

So, print out these responses (or edit them into something less personal) and distribute your concerns to everyone who is working with you. The fact is that today's PA or Grip or Makeup Artist could very well be a major Director or Producer a few months down the road. But they are NOT that today. Today, they are a PA, a Grip, or whatever else it is they should be concentrating on.

In the same way, after graduation, unless you're out there in the professional arena trying to promote yourself as a Director, nobody else really cares, particularly if you've agreed to work as a PA for the moment just to make ends meet. Great for you if you've won an award for your brilliant student film. Really. I mean it. But if you agree to work as anything other than the directing job, then you need to concentrate on that job instead of walking around set or the office telling people how you don't really "do this" because you're really a Director. Really? Then go direct. In the meantime, do the job you're being paid to do today or leave. It really is that simple.

So if your problem child with the ego can't live with those conditions, it is definitely not out of the question to politely ask him to remove himself from working with everyone else. If he is such a great Director, then he should stop wasting his money on school and go prove himself to the world. If he does need school, then he (frankly) just needs to grow up, shut up, and do the job that is assigned to him.


Oh, and I wouldn't let him anywhere near the Actors on set, so AD is out, Camera is out. He needs to watch from the outside for a while and understand what it means to let someone else be in charge. Don't allow the temptation for him to slide in with comments while you're not paying attention.

Edited by Brian Dzyak, 07 April 2009 - 06:38 PM.

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#8 Serge Teulon

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 06:09 AM

Very well said Brian!

Edited by Serge Teulon, 08 April 2009 - 06:09 AM.

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