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Taking Care of Business
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Old March 4th, 2004, 11:33 PM   #1
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such thing as director, producer, writer, editor, all of the above?

well? l00king through writers, director, actor's guild it seems there are strict guidelines such as director can't even look through viewfinder and only cinematographer can do lighting. what happens if you're doing an indie and you ARE all of the above?
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Old March 4th, 2004, 11:45 PM   #2
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Don't join a guild, then. It's only when you get larger that you even contemplate hiring union and by then you will need to have more people helping you. You would be happy for it then.
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Old March 5th, 2004, 12:18 AM   #3
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Not that strict!

The Director is the final authority on the set. He or she will look through anything he or she wants whenever he or she wants to, and that includes the viewfinder!

..
O

There are many Directors out there that like to light and operate the camera themselves, such as Joe Pytka, on "Let It Ride". James Cameron is another one that does this more often than not.

This is especially true of Directors who, like Joe, come from a commercial background where the Director is oftentimes the DP/Camera Operator as well.

I worked on a film where I pretty much pulled focus exclusively for the Director who operated the camera while the Operator pracitced his backswing all day...on the clock! Who's going to complain on a gig like that?

Now, don't get me wrong, there are pretty strict rules as far as crewing a Union picture. The bodies have to get paid whether you are utilizing them or not. This is especially evident when a DP, for instance, wants to take his Operator to another jurisdiction to work on a movie and the Union Local for that jurisdiction mandates that a "standby" Operator be hired to match the incoming Operator, hour for hour.

What this means is that the "standby" Operator is getting paid exactly the same as the "imported" Operator, while he sits on the camera truck all day! This only works if the DP is a big enough name and the Director is on his side, otherwise, they end up just hiring a local Operator.

On an indie you are often "all of the above" because there is usually not enough money to fully crew the film. This does not, by any means, imply that the people on an indie are any less talented than on a mainstream crew, just that they are still waiting to be "discovered"!

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Old March 5th, 2004, 04:51 AM   #4
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I think you can also do more than one job on a big production
with unions if you don't use the standard titles (like Rodriguez
uses chopped by RR instead of edited) or use a different name.
There are some loopholes I think, because a lot of directors do
wear multiple hats (a lot also do DP or editing).
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Old March 6th, 2004, 09:10 AM   #5
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thx 4 input =). also when you credit people onscreen is it not easier to list the people that helped you and at the end list, "everything else by _____" blank being your own name? otherwise wouldn't it look pompous if you listed, "directed by me" "edited by me" "written by me" "starring me" etc.etc.etc.
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Old March 6th, 2004, 11:20 AM   #6
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Interesting observation, Yi...

Here's one example of that, click on "cast and crew"
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Old March 6th, 2004, 02:35 PM   #7
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As a note on the appearance of the the age-old indie vs union crew debate: it may seem from the outside that the unions get in the way of filmmaking by enforcing their particular requirements. The point of a union is to protect its members, and it is well documented that without that protection, many producers would FORCE people to wear multiple hats, work even more absurd hours, risk their lives etc. The rules are there to prevent abuse, not restrict fillmmakers. Every director is welcome to look through the viewfinder and even operate if they wanted to, as long as there is an operator on set as was previously mentioned. The question is, why is a director spending any of his/her energy framing to avoid that sneaky little backlight, or keeping an eye on the encroaching boom mike, or watching for camera shadows in the foreground when they should be concentrating on performances and the big picture overall.

There's many great things to be said about a tight little crew and not having to try to communicate your thoughts to others, just grabbing the camera and doing it with no fuss. Many do just this and some even do it well, and are happier that way. The exciting synergy for me is when the people you are surrounded with are able to do their jobs at least as well and probably better than I can do them, and have interesting ideas to boot. That's when it doesn't pay off to do multiple jobs yourself, in my opinion, because you are potentially short-changing the ultimate product. Of course, on a no or low paying indie it's not always easy to find those people.
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Old March 7th, 2004, 02:01 PM   #8
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I understand why a lot of those rules exist (especially about
working hours). But I'm not so sure when it comes to job
functions. Why do the unions want a camera operator or
DP on set? If someone wants to direct and do the camera
operating shouldn't that be his own choice? It looks like with this
particular example that the union just wants people out there
(which you might see as making sure there interests are being
protected, but also as bit "bossy". Now I'm all for protecting
the interest of the hard working union people. But some things
just look a bit "off".
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Old March 7th, 2004, 05:55 PM   #9
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It's not so much getting people out there, it's preventing them from being eliminated from the workforce.

If one director successfully lobbies for eliminating the camera operator or DP position, then that producer will expect to have the next director follow suit. Thereafter all producers will refuse to hire either position and expect the directors to do the jobs themselves. Now many skilled people are out of work. The producers would love nothing more than to have this happen, as it is less people to pay in the long run. Then there is no point in having union regulations to keep the working conditions safe, if no-one from that particular local is being hired any more...

With the current situation, as long as there are standbys hired, the director can operate the camera or light or do whatever he pleases.
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Old March 11th, 2004, 06:21 PM   #10
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I really dislike unions but I have to agree with Charles, unions are necessary to keep bean counters from deciding what job functions are allowed to exist.

It's the lesser of two weevils, so to speak.
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Old March 11th, 2004, 06:32 PM   #11
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"unions are necessary to keep bean counters from telling people what their job functions ought to be."

Unions are necessary to enforce standards of workplace safety and negotiate for fair pay. They are the essential stopgap preventing market pressures from forcing good bosses to go bad. They don't always work perfectly and like any political organization they can become corrupted--but without them, humanity is regularly sacrificed to the bottom line.
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