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Andrew Dean April 9th, 2011 10:14 AM

A crewmember's tips for attracting indy crewmembers
I wrote a lot of this epic diatribe buried in a hearty discussion in the "helping hands" forum. After several people suggested my post would make a good first time filmmaker "sticky", I thought I'd expand on it, make it even longer (ha!) and put it into its own topic. Apologies if this is the wrong place or if my post offends.


I'm the guy you dream of attracting to your "indy" project. I own a truck full of grip, lighting, sound and camera support gear. I am a 20 year veteran in the industry but the "hobby" and "passion" side of me really enjoys a good scrappy no-budget indy project now and then. As a rule I'm paid nicely for my time and equipment, but I am open to doing the exact same job for free if something about a project intrigues me. When I sign up for freebies, it is without any delusions I'll ever get paid. I also don't have any ego about it. I'll join your team, say "Lets do this thing" and do everything I can to do it right.

"Indy" or "Independent" used to simply mean "not a major studio project". Now it seems synonymous with "no money." When I refer to an "indy crew" I'm talking about "skilled and/or experienced people willing to work beneath their pay grade for love, passion or psychosis."

First things first, I'd like to suggest you think of your movie NOT as the collection of the work of a bunch of people on set, but as the thing you have created, honed and perfected in your head. I'm not showing up to help you make a movie. I'm there to FILM your movie. The difference is profound and has everything to do with vision and discipline on your part. If the movie is proceeding in front of me, I can put my energy into doing my job.

If you know exactly what you want - not basically, not mostly - but shot by shot exactly what you want the finished film to look like, so much so that if you could draw, you could create the graphic novel of what is in your head... then we can talk. If not, then I'm not helping you film your movie, I'm helping you figure out what your movie is. That process is SO slow, and SO inefficient and such a pointless waste of a film set that it takes all the wind out of my sails. The absolute best way to run off your crew is to have them waiting around while you "figure things out". The absolute best way to keep a crew is to have everything so organized that they spend their day doing what they agreed to be doing. Soundies are recording sound. Grips are gripping. Actors are acting. If a day goes efficiently, it goes quickly and without as much attitude. Everybody wins.

Obviously things change on set. I'm not saying you can't be flexible or even improvise when shooting. However, in order to flex efficiently without wasting time and burning out a crew, you need to have your "base vision" complete to start with. That way, there is a plan of action even when you get confused or distracted.

Thats a huge ask. Having all your crap together is a tremendous demand. But that is precisely the job you are signing up for. The reason the producer and director get their name up front is because their job is the biggest. If you just want to have some fun "playing filmmaker" then just be up front about that. Throw some zombies in the plot and you'll get people to show up for giggles. Thats a whole different thing than attracting a good indy crew.

Tips for assembling a skilled crew willing to work for less than they should:

1. Don't call me until your script is locked down, solid and awesome. Some evolution can occur on set, but if you start improvising scenes, characters and motivations, you are GUARANTEED to miss something. I'm not going to agree to do your film until I know what your movie is. So... get it on paper at the least.

2. Write a movie that doesn't suck. That seems obvious, but 99/100 scripts that are handed to me are incoherent dribble that shifts genres mid stream and at best is a lame knockoff of some other movie except with horrible dialog. If a movie is something I'd want to watch, its something I'd want to film. Sometimes I'll help somebody because a director is a really nice person, but even then, there has to be *some* hope the finished project is something I could at least show friends without a big "watch this ironically!" disclaimer.

Sareesh said it first. If you think your script is awesome, go workshop it. Show it around. Test it. It needs to flow as a story AND have believable, compelling dialog. If i'm to invest my time and energy sailing with you, make sure your treasure map is accurate. In so many cases the person pitching to me has simply grown weary of refining and revising their script and are anxious to "just start filming and sort it out then". If you don't have the energy to see the movie through as a concept, how can you possibly claim you can finish it as a film?

3. Write a movie that is reasonable and possible to shoot on our budget. Maybe you shouldn't write in that underwater battle between the robots and martian spiders? That might be obvious, but I was pitched a script that changed locations every few lines of dialog. A no-budget 15 page short that had 27 different locations, each at least 30 minutes travel from the last. To make it worse, the locations had nothing to do with the dialog. The writer decided the dialog was slow and tedious, so he wanted to fix it... by having the conversation randomly take place in lots of different places. Thats like a violation of both #2 and #3. yuck.

4. Put more time and money into attracting actors than attracting me. You can fluke a good movie with green crew. If the actors suck, the movie sucks. Period. Script first. Actors second. With those two nailed, the rest can be sorted out.

5. By the time you talk to me, you should have your acting leads fully vested and they should have done at least a dozen full length rehearsals (not readthroughs, but actual rehearsals) and the clumsy parts of the script should have been addressed and fixed and re-rehearsed.

Now, #4 might sound extreme and you can get all huffy about how i'm not a team player, but put it in the perspective of efficiency. If you and the 2-3 leads spend a solid week working out the kinks of their lines and performance, that is what, 4 people spending a week? If you go through that same process on set, that is what, 15 people plus a whole lot of gear spending a week doing the exact same thing? And on set, its not just a week. Its 2 weeks because every time we need to do another take because the actor didn't understand the script - that slows the day, loses inspiration and forces rescheduling and replanning around all the various schedules. That means more catering, more crap to sift through when editing... Rushing into the shooting stage is disrespectful of all the volunteer crew. Never dis a volunteer crew.

6. Put more energy into art direction and wardrobe than in me. Whether the movie sucks or not, the wardrobe and art direction can still be a portfolio piece for those departments. Get a good person for each of those roles and get them involved early enough and vested enough that they are able to do what they need. Those people will need thrift store budget, so you HAVE to spend money there. They can volunteer their time, but do not make them volunteer their money to buy clothes and props. A great art director can make magic out of a few hundred bucks, but they need that money to make magic.

7. Put in the time to nail down great locations. Not good, not "will do" but great. Its a huge effort, but locations that do not have major sound issues are vital. No flight path if your film is period. No french horn academy next door. No gymnasiums. Spend time on the location with the DP AND soundie and sort out what happens with lighting through the day and what sound issues arise . Schedule and plan accordingly.

I forget which movie it was, but I saw some footage of Robert Rodriguez (the master of under funded film) going through potential locations with the cast and a camcorder, doing a rough blocking and visualization of the whole film. That right there is such a fantastic idea. Figure out what you want with as little crew as possible, then bring them in once you are ready for them. If you can know exactly what you want, then you don't need to to have a huge crew spending time overshooting to give you "coverage." That could save days of shooting.

8. Do NOT lie to your crew. The moment you screw up, admit it. If you say you have permission to film somewhere, you need to have permission. If you say you've scouted the location, then by dammit, you should have stepped foot on the location before. I've lost track of how many times i've shown up to a location and the people there had no clue who we were and why we were there. I'm ready to film a movie and instead we are calling people to talk to other people to verify what somebody meant or where a key is hidden. No. no. no. no. no. no. Get all that sorted out before me and if something is iffy, let the crew know in advance. I'm willing to give up my time and energy, but not willing to get screwed. If it turns out you lied to me about something important? I'm gone. Being a team works both ways, and honestly, it needs to flow MORE from the "indy director" down than it needs to flow up. You need to respect the time and effort of the crew more than we need to respect your vision. You own the final product, so its only fair. You are asking the favor, not me. Do not lie.

9. Food. No indy film is ever "no budget". You gotta pay for food, and it needs to change in some fashion between meals. Not the same box of crackers and easy cheese sitting out all day. I'm more than happy for somebody's mom to make sammiches. I'm not asking for gourmet, just make sure we have some meals, have some meal breaks and there is drinking water and glasses aplenty. Write my name on a plastic cup and buy generic soda, thats fine. But make sure there is something.

For multiple days in a row, junk food kills momentum. At least have some of the meals "healthy". The fatty salty stuff is awesome, but makes you want a nap if the shoot goes long.

10. Money. There are decent crew out there that will work for free... but only if you spend money on 1-9. Part of why I want people to pay me is because if they are paying me by the hour or day, then they naturally start to prioritize 1-9. If you are paying me $2k/day for me and my gear, then YOU will come up with the bright idea to maybe rehearse your actors before they are on set with me and maybe double check locations and the upcoming weather. You might even decide NOT to shoot the outdoor scene in the rain because its pretty obvious it doesn't match with the rest of the footage and "we might as well shoot something since we are all ready to go" isn't a good enough reason to pay for a whole pointless day of shooting.

So probably the #1 most important lesson here is that even if you are not paying your crew, you need to structure your shoots as if you were.

Let me repeat that because it is so important: No matter what you are paying your crew, you need to structure your shoots with the same awareness and caution that you would if you were paying the $10,000/day that a proper indy film shoot might cost. Anything that might waste part of a day of full crew? Don't do that, unless its worth $2500 out of your own pocket.

Here is a related life-lesson: If you ever ask people to help you move, you need to box up all your crap BEFORE they show up. Moving all your stuff is enough of a favor. If they show up and all your stuff is out on the shelves and you don't have any boxes and haven't sorted out a moving van or even a trailer, then you have abused your friends and are a jerk. You also need to have a new apartment already rented and have a map to it. There are professional moving companies that you can pay to box it all up and bring trucks and store your stuff and unpack it. If you are asking your friends to do all that you need to spell out exactly what you are asking because "help me move my stuff" is usually a big enough favor on its own. And if you want your volunteers to stay happy? You need to measure your hideabed couch and make sure it fits in the third floor doorway before people carry it all the way up the stairs. (i wish that was an abstract lesson and not something i experienced firsthand. ugh)

The above paragraph was also an analogy, if that wasn't obvious. hehe

Andrew Dean April 9th, 2011 10:17 AM

I realize that probably nobody is reading on this far, but the above post brings me to a related but possibly tangential point:

Crew need gear to do their job. If lighting and grip are a part of your set, you need to source decent lighting and grip gear. If somebody is volunteering their time to gaff, it is your job to get lights into their hand to gaff with.

There is a dangerous logic trap that comes next with indy directors. here it is:

1. i don't have enough money to do this film, but am going for it
2. i found somebody to gaff for free, but they need lights
3. I can rent lights that are the right tools for the job, but they are so expensive!
4. I know... for the same money i can BUY cheap lights, force the gaffer to make them work and then own them for my next shoot!

you can repeat that with grip or sound gear too. It is really hard to get no budget directors to comprehend how short sighted the jump from 3 to 4 is. You get somebody to work for free, then CHOOSE to force them to work extra hard and compromise what they can accomplish so you can have a long term investment in gear. That sucks.

Here is the solution to that logic trap:
5. At the end of the shoot, the low budget lighting/grip/sound gear becomes the property of the gaff/grip/soundie as payment/reward for their services.

Knowing you don't keep the gear may very well change your priority. At the least, the volunteers have something for their time. Either they get some ghetto gear out of it, (which you will then be able to use next time you bring them on as crew like you promised!) or you will opt to rent the good stuff, in which case the crew gets to use good gear. win/win.

It seems so obvious, but if you pay people to be on set, they are less upset when you are inefficient and slow and "learning the trade" on their time. If you cannot pay people, then you need to hustle something fierce to make sure you are NOT "learning the trade" on their time.

So with all that sorted out, you can come to me and pitch your movie, your script, your actors and your locations. THAT pitch, with all that stuff sorted out, has an infinitely better chance of attracting a good indy crew. If you can answer all the above concerns straight off the bat, then that is the absolute best way, in my opinion, to attract an independent film crew.

Any of us would gladly time travel back to be unpaid crew on the original starwars or indiana jones movies. Another way to attract a crew? Be an upcoming film visionary with a groundbreaking movie... or win the lotto and pay people good money to put up with your halfassed piece of crap. Either way works for me.

Andrew Dean April 9th, 2011 10:21 AM

Re: A crewmember's tips for attracting indy crewmembers
Now! You've refined a decent script, got yourself organized, got your actors dressed, motivated and rehearsed! Using my suggestions above, you have locked down an awesome crew... Be aware that once you pull the trigger on a feature, its off like a rocket. Mid-filming is the last place you want to test out the crew's skills and whether or not you gel with each other.

I STRONGLY suggest you find a local musician or band with a great sound and use your potential crew and actors to shoot a freebie music video for the artist. You can often knock out a music video in a single day of shooting. It is a perfect venue to test out crew personalities and skills. Find a storyline that works with the visual theme, costumes and actors of your movie and the video can act as a technical test for your visual workflow (and data workflow too.) If something goes horribly wrong you can probably still salvage a music video out of it. If it goes poorly, you have saved yourself a crisis that could have been catastrophic to morale on a feature set. There is a natural "closure" to the shoot, which gives you a perfect opportunity to fix problems and cull out the unhelpful. As a bonus, if you do a great job, you can hit up the now-ecstatic musician to write and record some music for your film. Awesome.

Andrew Dean April 9th, 2011 10:41 AM

A crewmember's tips for KEEPING a crew
So you got crew... Now lets talk about ways to keep them:

1. prioritize sound or let the soundie go home. If you are going to have somebody with sound gear on set, let them do their job. That means the soundie needs to fight for an angle and the lighting might need to be fudged for shadows. Fridges, air conditioners, generators, race cars, circus animals and airplanes need to be silenced, one way or another. Allow the time to wire up lavs as required. Don't make noise during a room tone recording so the rest of the crew will follow suit.

There are very good and very practical reasons to attempt great location sound. If you have ANY inclination to lecture the crew that "in hollywood ALL the audio is ADR" or "ADR will be better and take less time" then please go tell the soundie right now that he's not needed. If you believe ADR is simpler and faster than location audio, then you aren't going to be patient when doing all the necessary live sound related stuff like covering reflective surfaces and fighting for position.

If you don't respect the need for the location sound, then your passive aggressive crap is going to make it impossible for the soundie to do a good job, and then your rant about ADR being so much better than location sound will come true in the worst way possible. ADR is time consuming, tricky and forces you to create all other audio from scratch. Its a huge job, and extremely difficult to "get right". When done "right", its absolutely killer. When done wrong, its a complete trainwreck. Whether you can do it "right" or not depends on you and your resources. My point is if you are going to do ADR then you don't need a skilled person wasting his time just to capture a guide track. Even DSLR with auto gain will record a guide track just fine.

Choose from the start: "THIS PIECE IS all ADR AND FOLEY" or "I AM GOING TO EMPOWER THE SOUND GUY AND GIVE AUDIO EQUAL PRIORITY TO LIGHTING AND CAMERA, EVEN IF ITS REALLY INCONVENIENT". Riding the line between the two is the same as making the first choice while also being a gigantic prick to whoever agreed to do your sound. Obviously, sometimes good field sound is impossible. Make sure the hurdle isn't you.

2. Be equally flexible with the needs of the crew, the schedule and your vision. If something gets complicated, or somebody screws up, or something breaks then something has to give. I've seen many directors who are quick to ask the crew to abuse themselves or sacrifice when the director absolutely will not flex on their vision or shooting timetable. One director/producer screwed up and booked the "adult" version of the character for a scene that was supposed to be the child version. We lost hours trying to see if the kid was available or seeing what other scenes we could shoot instead. Everybody was understanding and cool about it until the director demanded we make up for their screwup by skipping the wedding that several of the crew were in the wedding party later in the day.

If you are going to try to fix a mistake by going overtime by 5 hours, or ask people to skip their obligations, then the crew deserves to have you bend your perfect vision for the same reasons. If you want to keep a crew, i reckon the schedule is what should break. If people can't stay late, plan for another day. If there are major screwups, consider throwing out the shooting schedule, pulling the plug, fixing the problem and then rescheduling.

If you are paying then it might be reasonable to ask people to work through a sudden freezing rain when nobody is dressed for it. For free? Come on. Just bite it and reschedule. And look extra hard if there are workarounds or alternative locations or scenes that can make up that time. The biggest hurdle in making an indy film is finishing. If changing your space fight to a bar fight means finishing the film? At least consider it.

3. Don't be a dick. Seriously, this should probably be the title of this whole post, but don't do it. You can be a total hardass dictator who works their crew like horses... and still not be a dick about it. A director is a leadership role. Often times wannabe directors are social misfits and when faced with "leading" they revert to some model they learned from a gym teacher. You can be in charge without being condescending. You can be in a hurry without being snide or overly impatient... especially if the crew has had to wait for you to "figure things out". Remember, the crew agreed from the very beginning to do your bidding, so you don't *really* have to prove yourself to them.

4. Do not "Fight" on set. Ever. If you are having a personality clash or power struggle with somebody on crew, then you failed at the point you selected your crew. In most cases no amount of power struggle or arguing on set is going to end that clash. Learn diplomacy first. Learn how to listen, too. Most importantly, learn to pull the cord on a shoot before the shoot spectacularly flames out. Calmly and rationally dismissing a renegade crew member from the project at least allows you to continue.

If that doesn't work to bring peace, or if the dissenter won't leave without a fight, pull the plug in as non-angry way possible. No passive aggressive stuff either. Just "ok, sorry guys, we need to address this. Thats a wrap for today. I'll be in touch and we can pick things up later." Dismissing crew and pulling the plug will both cost you time and may cascade into the leaving of some of your crew, but flaming out in an angry screaming match means replacing EVERYBODY on set. Often times even the actors will refuse to return after a nasty meltdown. Nobody likes being the child of a divorce and no matter how good or clever you think your argument was, nobody cares what words you were yelling. You were yelling, so you were an irrational dick. Don't do that. Calm. Collected. Coherent. Failing that... just shut up. Shut up, calm down, take a breath. Do you want to win an argument or shoot a movie? Pick one.

5. You probably need a 1st AD. Probably not for a short, but definitely for a feature. No matter how awesome you think you are, and no matter how much you dislike the "hollywood model," a good 1st AD is so unbelievably useful that you should look into getting one. Ok, so you don't *really* need somebody yelling "cut" for you, but the job the 1st AD does that is miraculous is between takes and between setups they are guiding the crew into what you need from them next. That means you can take a tiny bit of time "figuring things out" without having everyone sitting on their thumbs.

The second miracle is scheduling. If you go to the effort of scheduling in advance, the 1st AD keeps track of whether you are meeting that schedule, and in the early stages of slipping can make adjustments or start devising alternate plans and schedules. As director/producer you can focus on the things you need to focus on, but there is another brain and voice dedicated to make it happen more efficiently. During those horrible moments of "oh crap, we lost light and can't shoot the sunbathing scene", the 1st AD will have a suggestion in their pocket that you can default to if nothing better comes to mind. Its like having a directing Caddy that is there handing you clubs. They totally change the game. Plus, the 1st AD will also be putting fire under your butt to keep the schedule. It can be very frustrating to the director, but is an absolute godsend to the project and can mean the difference between a well oiled machine and a crew mutiny.

6. Know your limits. (and ideally learn them on your own time) I work for some incredibly talented cameramen. When they take on the role of director, they often hand off the camera. Its not that the new person is better as cam-op. Its that the director needs to focus on directing. Sometimes its just for a few tricky shots, and sometimes its for a whole shoot. If you are directing a piece, you should care enough about the whole piece to know when YOU aren't the right person for the job. Be as critical of your own performance as you would be of anyone else on the crew... and do something about it.

I know some DPs that also run camera. Maybe not very hollywood, but it can work. I know a few directors who also tried to DP and operate camera at the same time. On shorts and music videos it can work fine. On long form pieces, they didn't do any one of those jobs well. Surrendering the camera or photography to somebody might very well mean the framing or lighting isn't *exactly* like you'd do it. But if you doing a specific job means that other huge balls are being dropped, you need to weigh the nitpicky vs. the big picture. Only handle as many hats as you can wear efficiently. As soon as one of your jobs waits for another, that lag is experienced by the whole crew. I can Grip or I can Gaff. On sets where we need to lay track AND rig lights, I cannot do both at the same time. I can delegate responsibilities or I can make everybody wait for me. As director, which of those scenarios works better for you? Now apply that to yourself.

7.Give up smoking, and know when to break. Not enough breaks wears crew out, but too many breaks can kill momentum. People that crew movies want to crew movies. I'd much rather be rigging a jib than waiting around. Usually the waiting is poor planning on a large scale. But I've found that Directors that smoke have an annoying tendency to call breaks when they want a cigarette. Thats a completely stupid reason to grind the whole machine to a halt. This mostly comes up indoors when smoking intrudes with the scene and gear and the actors eyes, etc. If you won't give up smoking, then you need a DP and a 1st AD. Then you can run outside and suck a fag (that isn't a rude thing to say in NZ) while the crew is setting up for the next shot. If you need more nicotine than that, or if your addiction is causing you to be distracted on set? Go buy some patches or gum.

Same goes for coke, heroin, trashy women, world of warcraft, white house page boys, farmville/town... if your addiction in any way distracts you from the job at hand, go into rehab or replace yourself with somebody who can focus.

A common theme in my rant is "be efficient". Its really the most important thing to a crew's morale. If you are efficient, things constantly change and evolve and the shoot can remain interesting. If you are inefficient, people get bored, frustrated and thinking about the things they'd rather be doing. Chances are, there is nothing your crew would rather be doing than shooting a movie. If they are thinking about something else while on your set, what does that tell you?

I don't know if this deserves a number since it occurs after filming is over, but you really should ask the crew what credit they want in the film and try to give it to them. Before you finalize it, you should send a copy of the credit text to everybody who helped out. This gives them time verify spelling and to challenge a title or placement. A lot of directors don't want to do that because its a hassle and they don't want to be confronted with their decision to give you a crappy credit. Your crew gave up their time and energy to make your film. They deserve a voice in how they are portrayed... and you want them to be happy if you ever plan to use them again. You have the power to totally snub somebody in the credits, but this entry was how to *keep* crew.

Andrew Dean April 9th, 2011 11:03 AM

Crewmember tips for keeping alive
Some tips for how to keep your Post production crew from vandalizing your car:

1. Never ever ever ever take the mouse from your editor. You can ask in the rarest of occasions, but do not take. The editor has had to sift through every bad decision you've made. They've had to try to fix your failures. Give them respect by never grabbing the mouse and only asking for it in the most dire of situations. No matter how much you want to show them that you know better than them... don't do it if you want them to continue helping you. Let the editor remain delusional that you value their input until the end.

2. Let your editor edit. There are natural points where you can make big changes. The assembly cut is for major structure issues. When they deliver a rough cut you can address details. A fine cut and you can get picky. A refined fine cut and you can get down to frames... etc. During all those stages, you can guide the editor with what you want in a broad sense, but do NOT interfere on a shot by shot or frame by frame basis until you reach that level of finish. Rushing into minutia too early destroys morale. Let the editor cut. THEN, after each landmark, if you really want, you can take the duplicate drives home and have a go at screwing up their edit without forcing them to watch. A good editor will try to make your wishes come true, but remember they are limited by the source material.

3. Trust your editor. The editor is looking at your piece based on what made it to camera, not what your original intention was before you started shooting. A good editor can find and make the best of what they are given. Chances are what you delivered is NOT the ideal grocery list for the film you had in your head. If the editor is able to make something awesome that isn't exactly what you had in mind, try to be as objective as you can. This is an indy film. If they are able to cut something awesome from it, holy crap! Awesome!

5. Try your hardest to use fresh eyes. Writer/director/camera combo people are the worst when it comes to editing. They cannot differentiate between their original vision, the script in early drafts, what made it to the final script, what made it onto the camera and what they are liking as they watch the edit. They are constantly chasing ghosts and trying to edit nuances into scenes that were simply not shot. The best movie from your footage may not be the one in your head. Try to be open to that as much as you can.

6. If you chose ADR and it turns out to be a giant nightmare, never matches quite right and you don't have the time or money to do all the foley effects to make the soundscape natural, you need to pick up the phone and call the soundie that you dismissed/neglected and apologize for your poor judgement. Eventually you are going to want to use location audio, and having a soundie that is willing to fight for their audio is exactly who you want on set.

7. Do not have a "rough cut" crew screening. Its hard for the crew to get the halfassed version of the film out of their head. Wait until its polished.

8. finish post as soon as humanly possible. That might mean deferring to the editor over decisions you may not totally love. The longer a piece remains in post, the more the post team loses passion for it and it rarely makes it "better" to slave over it... and slaving over it usually means "getting really busy and doing something else that doesn't remind you how much you DIDNT listen to all the above pages of advice." (hehe) Try to keep in mind, you did this thing cheap! Cut the best you can as fast as you can, wrap it, have a killer party and move on to the next project. If you win any festivals? Use the money to revisit the final cut... or better yet, throw another party.

9. Unless your film totally sucks, your actors will request excerpts for their reel. Expect this, keep an editible version on an external hard drive that allows you to quickly retrieve the scenes they want and export to whatever format they want. You owe the actors a massive debt of gratitude. Helping them with their reel is the least you can do. Don't pull the "i want to keep this project a secret until X" line either. Give them what they want and smile. Even if you were trying to keep the project a secret, the actors "own" the spirit of the film. Make them happy.

This post-production post more than others is very specific to "indy" productions. If you are paying the post crew, then you can be much more heavy handed. You'll be a jerk, of course, but editors are used to producers being jerks. However, when editors are not being paid, that dark seething hatred for your entire ilk can start to leak out. Don't screw with editors. They will snap and do things so unspeakable, you'll want to write them down for your next movie... if you still have use of your fingers...


Andrew Dean April 9th, 2011 11:17 AM

A crewmember's tips for typing long forum entries
I don't know if it needs to be said, but the 80 zillion words in this thread are all just my opinion. I tried to keep it all "film crew common sense", but i probably crossed some lines. I'm more than happy to be corrected and I hope this will inspire others to add their experiences to the mix. Credit absolutely is shared with all the dvinfo people offering their crew wisdom over the years. And a special kudo to anyone that actually read this mini-novel and made it down to this sentence. Whoah! Get a job man! hehe.

I've suffered from post-earthquake insomnia for a few weeks now. Supposedly its a real thing and not just me drinking coffee at night. Anyways, an inability to sleep, an overactive mind and the ability to touch type taught to me by mrs. Rodriguez in 7th grade are all to blame for this unending verbal assault.


If any of my tyrade was helpful, maybe consider donating something to the Christchurch earthquake fund? Its really screwed up here. Or better yet, send me some gear to review until work picks up again. heh. I was supposed to get a Seven Jib today when my mom brought it as luggage, but qantas lost it somewhere between austin and auckland. doh.


Steve Lustgarten April 10th, 2011 06:58 PM

Re: A crewmember's tips for attracting indy crewmembers
great post. thanks for the efforts.


Josh Bass April 11th, 2011 02:19 AM

Re: A crewmember's tips for attracting indy crewmembers
I didn't read through the entire thing, just skimmed, but I didn't see anything about that INITIAL ATTEMPT TO ATTRACT folks. I mean before the script, budget etc.

That craigslist ad you place. . .

I want to suggest people not BS when trying to advertise that they're hiring. What I mean is, no "festival bound feature film" "Sundance-worthy", etc. Just admit it's a no budget thing that you believe in. Links to a director/writer/whoever's previous work, and FULL DISCLOSURE OF WHO THEY ARE also greatly appreciated so crewpeople can see if it's even worth the effort to apply in the first place.

Justin Whitney April 11th, 2011 07:22 AM

Re: A crewmember's tips for attracting indy crewmembers
Absolutely brilliant. All of it. Thank you for the time and effort in posting all of this! I wish I'd seen it before my first short. (I wasn't a dick, but I could have done a few things better.)

Andrew Dean April 11th, 2011 06:07 PM

Re: A crewmember's tips for attracting indy crewmembers

Do not lie or hyper-embellish when pitching your film to potential crew. Great advice. That is going to be a monumental challenge for most directors. heheh.

Full disclosure is a great suggestion too. I'm far more likely to say yes to some film school dropout that says "i'm a film school dropout BUT..." than somebody that props themselves up and in digging around I find out they aren't what they claim.

Anybody got any more?



Originally Posted by Josh Bass (Post 1637472)
I didn't read through the entire thing, just skimmed, but I didn't see anything about that INITIAL ATTEMPT TO ATTRACT folks. I mean before the script, budget etc.

That craigslist ad you place. . .

I want to suggest people not BS when trying to advertise that they're hiring. What I mean is, no "festival bound feature film" "Sundance-worthy", etc. Just admit it's a no budget thing that you believe in. Links to a director/writer/whoever's previous work, and FULL DISCLOSURE OF WHO THEY ARE also greatly appreciated so crewpeople can see if it's even worth the effort to apply in the first place.

Burk Webb April 11th, 2011 07:09 PM

Re: A crewmember's tips for attracting indy crewmembers
Well done sir!

Paul Mailath April 13th, 2011 07:50 AM

Re: A crewmember's tips for attracting indy crewmembers
Love it! - I'd send this link out to a few people but it might just come back and bite me

Ian Dart July 29th, 2011 07:31 AM

Re: A crewmember's tips for attracting indy crewmembers
hi andrew,

i hope things are settling down over there for you after the big shake,
our thoughts were with you.
i must say your posts are the most sensible thing i have ever read about indie filmmaking.
it is great to see them laid out so clearly.
i to am a 20 year veteran camera op/gaffer and do my fair share of
low/no paid gigs.
the only thing i would add is the amount of hours worked in a day.
i work a 10 hour day and will do up to 2 hours overtime if asked politely in advance.
at 12 hours the lights get switched off........... no argument is considered.
i make it very clear from the moment i am aproached to work that there is a 12 hour day limit and is not negotiable.
it is unfair and dangerous to ask people to work any longer if there is no pay.
there is also the matter of on set safety but that is for another post.

cheers mate

Chris Hurd July 29th, 2011 11:04 AM

Re: A crewmember's tips for attracting indy crewmembers
I think this is destined to become a feature article on DVi -- well done, Andrew!

Chris Soucy July 30th, 2011 12:06 AM

Re: A crewmember's tips for attracting indy crewmembers
Awesome, Andrew...................

What an intelligent, thoughtful (not to mention exceedingly well written) piece, it definately deserves a permanent place on DVinfo.

Oh, that I could pen such gems!

The CH "shake, rattle and roll" has obviously had a positive effect on your writing skills, if leaving your blinding "on site" ones a tad under utlised.

Can't help with the latter, and doubt there's much milage reviewing my Hague J12 jib, so shall just say best wishes to you and all of (the remaining) CH residents.

See the AMI stadium has just got the thumbs down - bummer, not that I watch rugby, but even so.

Think us Australasians are punching above our weight in the "sock it to 'em" stakes, must be either the water or the beer (not that I ever, ever, drink the former, under any circumstances, though I have been known to wash in it on rare occasions, and even the latter is frowned on, needs to be a tad stronger to raise my interest).

You're a born reviewer my friend, hope you can make that part fly, but boy, it's bloody hard work!


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