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Old August 19th, 2019, 07:28 PM   #1
also known as Ryan Wray
 
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How should I handle this problem with a client and friend?

I am making a nature documentary corporate video project. I am doing it for a friend, for pretty much free actually just to get another project under my belt and for the experience.

However, things have not been going well on it though, and I wanted other people's opinions on this situation.

As part of this nature documentary, my friend who I am doing it for, arranged to have this person come out and speak about it for an interview. Me and my friend discussed how the interview was going to go and she said that she wanted the speaker to speak directly into the camera as if he is hosting it, just for about maybe 20 minutes. I asked if we are going to ask him questions, and she said no, he will just speak as if he is hosting, and we'll cut back to him looking into the camera every so often. So we agreed to do it that way.

Three days later, we all go to the forrest, where we have been mostly shooting so far, and I wanted to go to the place where we were going to shoot him and set up the camera and sound equipment. I wasn't sure if her nature society company had a place in mind, or if were just going to pick one, I was good with either of course, it's their project :).

Now I wanted to set up before the man got there because I didn't want any audio or video troubles with the area they wanted to do it in and wanted to make sure everything was good of course. However, they didn't want me to set up ahead of time, because the spot they wanted to shoot in was about a 2-3 mile hike up hills, and they didn't want to bring me there to show me where it is, and then come all the way back to get him, and then go back up there again, after I had set up.

I didn't know where this spot was, so I couldn't go there with my equipment myself to do it. So that's understandable that they didn't want to do make the trip twice. It would mean that I would have to wait with them and then one the speaker arrived, we would all then have do the 2 mile hike together, and then the speaker would have to wait while I set up. Which is fine with me, if that's the best way to do it they felt.

The speaker is a native American man and he brought some of his religion to the shoot. Which is totally fine, if that's what they want, I am just describing him. So what he arrived and we all hike towards the spot.

When we got to the spot, I could tell there was going to be some audio issues in this spot that I wanted to address, and perhaps could pick another spot.

However, as soon as we got there, the man started praying and doing a religious native American cultural dance.

I thought maybe he was just going to do this thing and then we would get on with shooting the interview. I asked my friend who was there if I should be recording this, as I was setting up the camera. I said if you want me to record it, just let him know, so I can wire him for sound as well as set up other sound equipment and camera equipment.

My friend then said to me that I'm suppose to be recording him already before he started preying and dancing but I can't wire him for sound while he is preying and dancing. But I said I was unable to do that as we just started dancing and preying before I could even ask him to be wired for sound, or before I could even talk to him. He just started right after he got to the shooting spot. When she said I was suppose to start recording him before he started, he started preying and dancing just as we all arrived, so there was no time to do set up the equipment, wire him for sound and do any sound checks.

So I asked my friend if she could ask him to be wired for sound then and maybe he could talk go over a quick run through of what we are shooting here. Because I was under the impression I was shooting an interview, not praying and dancing.

I can shoot preying and dancing though, if that is what they want, it's fine by me. But she said that she cannot interupt him during it, and that I missed my chance to wire him for sound and it's over now.

She said to just get what I could so I got what I could but I couldn't even wire him so it turned out really terrible, quality wise, and I didn't even get the whole thing, because he started doing his thing, before I could even talk to him, and I wasn't even allowed to talk to him she said, after he started.

So he finished the prayer and dance and then left. I asked her, why not call him back to do this properly, since that is what all this was for. But she said that I missed the chance, and that her and nature society payed him to come out there, and it was now a waste of money possibly, since I got terrible quality audio as a result, and didn't even get the whole thing. So he left and she wouldn't ask him to do another round of it, and that was that.

So I feel she has some tensions with me now and doubts now, but did I do something wrong? Was I unprepared? I figured it was best to wire him for sound after we got to the spot, rather than hike up a hill for two to three miles, through bushes, and risk something going wrong with the equipment, if I tried to prep it before the hike.

So did I handle this wrong though?
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Old August 19th, 2019, 10:55 PM   #2
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Re: How should I handle this problem with a client and friend?

There is always unexpected things and miscommunication with projects especially of a low budget nature. If you had talked directly to native American subject you would have discovered he wasnít doing an interview but a prayer ceremony. Itís always better to get something. I would have quickly picked up the camera and start filming for use as broll even if I thought I do an interview after. The sound was inconsequential and you very well would have got a lot of noise if he was moving a lot.
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Old August 19th, 2019, 10:57 PM   #3
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Re: How should I handle this problem with a client and friend?

Okay thanks well he didn't dance the whole time, I still could have gotten a lot of prayer dialogue while he was still, if they allowed me to point out he we should move to a different area, with better audio, and wire him and set it up. I actually wanted to talk to the native American man before shooting, but they wouldn't put me in touch with him, and just wanted me to meet him right then and there. They told me an interview though where he would speak into the camera to an interviewer, so from that, I interpreted that as an interview. I still tried to get B roll, but it's not very good, since it was not what he discussed and planned before.

What if from now one for this project, I tell her that she is to put me into direct contact with everyone else who will be on camera, and no further third party communication? Would that be out of order?
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Old August 19th, 2019, 11:16 PM   #4
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Re: How should I handle this problem with a client and friend?

I don’t know what actually went wrong. Instead of trying to guess or ask us, you should have a constructive discussion with your friend to discover why it went wrong and how to avoid it in the future. I’m saying while you were hiking to the location you should have talked to him. Or once you got to there.
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Old August 20th, 2019, 03:40 AM   #5
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Re: How should I handle this problem with a client and friend?

Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance
The 6 'Ps' - a popular maxim in the armed forces.

Almost everything that could go wrong, went wrong.

Forgive me Ryan, but you must learnt to grow a pair.

YOU are in charge of shooting video about something, with a crazy plan to talk to camera for 20 mins, in a place not of your choosing with no prep time and absolutely NO communication.

WHY DO YOU SAY YES TO THESE THINGS?

Surely with your continual desire to do new thing you must at some point develop warning bells. As soon as you got to the location and he started doing something - the person in charge should have done their stuff. You as the technical host should have stopped it - there are only three of you there for goodness sake, and if you didn't have the courage, you should have got her to stop it. Absolutely you should both have prevented him leaving. While you were walking there, did you travel in silence? surely you were discussing what was going to happen, and at t his point YOU should have laid downtime ground rules, especially with a subject who didn't know what was expected. "When we get too the location, I need to set up. Will both of you be speaking or just you? won't take long to get a microphone on you and do a couple of test sequences." rubbish really, but it warns them what is coming.


We've all been in these positions and you have to always have a plan B. As soon as he started, you should have sorted it. Yes, he could have taken offence, but the reason he was there was to do his thing, as it is you have no video, or rubbish video and unhappy Indian Chappy. Stopping him could have made him unhappy, but having no recording makes him even more unhappy.

This is not technical, it's managerial. You let people walk all over you and you must stop and take charge. They use you to get free video. This time they have no video. It's their fault for not explaining things, but you get the blame for not being a mindreader.

Next time - do some of the questions via phone text or email. That way you have it in black and white. The question is simple - so what's the plan? I feel for you but you are behaving like Inspector Clouseau.

This person is the one you're shooting the wildlife thing for? Totally clueless, and they're taking advantage of you. They have no clue, and their judgement is severely flawed. It will not end well! If there is money involved they will need a scapegoat, and I spy you!
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Old August 20th, 2019, 03:56 AM   #6
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Re: How should I handle this problem with a client and friend?

So you are working for FREE for 'A Friend' who has PAID a native American to dance and pray for a few minutes with no briefing or discussion, after giving you completely different information, then blaming you when it went wrong.

I would walk away now as you are going to learn absolutely nothing from it apart from your own inability to assert yourself in your own area of responsibility. No amount of technical advice here is going to give you the skill to speak up for yourself and plan properly for your shoot.

You are being walked all over and given no respect at all!

Roger
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Old August 20th, 2019, 04:43 AM   #7
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Re: How should I handle this problem with a client and friend?

The whole thing as described is odd. Did the interview never happen because:
Ryan didn’t talk to him or did the subject not want to do one. Or was the main goal to film the pray ceremony and the interview was incidental?

It’s hard to say whether Ryan is being taken advantage of or because he’s on the spectrum he doesn’t feel comfortable taking, interacting with people and reacting properly to situations. It’s also not uncommon for clients to not understand the technical logistics of a shoot.

Paul had good advice. The description of the job should be in an email. Even if it’s just a bulleted check list and a brief summary.

Last edited by Pete Cofrancesco; August 20th, 2019 at 05:13 AM.
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Old August 20th, 2019, 04:59 AM   #8
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Re: How should I handle this problem with a client and friend?

Seems like if you had everything set up you might still have missed part of it due to poor communication, expecting to film interview or monologue. Why no film of the hike to the site? Default to action.
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Old August 20th, 2019, 05:03 AM   #9
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Re: How should I handle this problem with a client and friend?

We have to be realistic an honest dealing with Ryan, as he has clearly set himself a direction he wants to go and has his own difficulties which prevent him dealing effectively with many of the problems that he encounters. There are sometimes things in life that we would love to achieve, but often these are unobtainable for various reasons. The ultimate achievements that Ryan is aspiring to, need more than just technical information, they need an ability to make unilateral decisions based on weighing up the available alternatives, making quick decisions where compromises are needed and being able to direct people efficiently and with authority and respect.

These may be things that Ryan isn't yet and may never be comfortable with and we need to be helping him direct his strengths rather than confusing him with endless advice and alternatives that he may not be able to implement effectively.

His strengths from the incredible number of posts and replies that have resulted from his threads, would suggest that he would be a great asset in the industry in researching for projects and productions. He has a dogged determination to get the information he wants and can go into small details and a myriad of alternative directions, whilst still remembering where he wants to get to. That infinite patience and attention to detail would be a great asset in many situations alongside others that are good at implementing ideas.

Roger
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Old August 20th, 2019, 05:22 AM   #10
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Re: How should I handle this problem with a client and friend?

Yep - I agree with Roger. One of my teachers always said repeated to students - always play to your strengths, and avoid your weaknesses.

Ryan is very keen to learn things, and his problems usually stem from other people either not appreciating they need to give clear steers, or those flowery "isn't this a good idea Ryan - can you do it? Great, come back when it's done" statements. Collating and researching is clearly something he's very comfy doing and asking here, and I think we don't actually mind this - many of these topics run to hundreds of posts and the signal to noise for other people's use is pretty decent I think.

People have over the months become quite comfy with trying to move Ryan on, and it's always good natured and while often confused, we do try.

A good friend of mine is very similar and I always have to remember to be factual, avoid jokes or silly suggestions because they just confuse. I do think his friends and collaborators seem to take less care than we do!
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Old August 20th, 2019, 05:39 AM   #11
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Re: How should I handle this problem with a client and friend?

The odd part is Ryan seems to be determined to want to do things he isn’t suited for. He would be better doing a narrow job ie camera operator, script writer, location scout... Something that has structure and the tasks are laid out. He seems to be drawn to the opposite. Huge open ended projects with a million decisions like creating a feature film from scratch.
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Old August 20th, 2019, 07:08 AM   #12
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Re: How should I handle this problem with a client and friend?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance
The 6 'Ps' - a popular maxim in the armed forces.

Almost everything that could go wrong, went wrong.

Forgive me Ryan, but you must learnt to grow a pair.

YOU are in charge of shooting video about something, with a crazy plan to talk to camera for 20 mins, in a place not of your choosing with no prep time and absolutely NO communication.

WHY DO YOU SAY YES TO THESE THINGS?

Surely with your continual desire to do new thing you must at some point develop warning bells. As soon as you got to the location and he started doing something - the person in charge should have done their stuff. You as the technical host should have stopped it - there are only three of you there for goodness sake, and if you didn't have the courage, you should have got her to stop it. Absolutely you should both have prevented him leaving. While you were walking there, did you travel in silence? surely you were discussing what was going to happen, and at t his point YOU should have laid downtime ground rules, especially with a subject who didn't know what was expected. "When we get too the location, I need to set up. Will both of you be speaking or just you? won't take long to get a microphone on you and do a couple of test sequences." rubbish really, but it warns them what is coming.


We've all been in these positions and you have to always have a plan B. As soon as he started, you should have sorted it. Yes, he could have taken offence, but the reason he was there was to do his thing, as it is you have no video, or rubbish video and unhappy Indian Chappy. Stopping him could have made him unhappy, but having no recording makes him even more unhappy.

This is not technical, it's managerial. You let people walk all over you and you must stop and take charge. They use you to get free video. This time they have no video. It's their fault for not explaining things, but you get the blame for not being a mindreader.

Next time - do some of the questions via phone text or email. That way you have it in black and white. The question is simple - so what's the plan? I feel for you but you are behaving like Inspector Clouseau.

This person is the one you're shooting the wildlife thing for? Totally clueless, and they're taking advantage of you. They have no clue, and their judgement is severely flawed. It will not end well! If there is money involved they will need a scapegoat, and I spy you!
Well the guy was talking and preying in his doing his and she was right there, so after a couple of minutes into it, I asked her, if you want me to record this I need to set up everything and wire him. So I asked two minutes in, but she it was too late and would not let me talk to him at that point. I asked her to talk to him for me, since she wasn't allowing me and she refused, worrying about interrupting what he was doing. I suppose I could have interrupted his prayer and asked him too, but I asked her to talk to him, three times, and she refused for some reason. I guess I just considered her to be the boss and she was in charge of the decision making but should I override her and take charge then, even though it's her expedition so to speak? I still took video of him doing his thing, it's just the sound is unusable since she gave me no time to set it up for some reason and refused to stop him when I asked her to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Michael View Post
Seems like if you had everything set up you might still have missed part of it due to poor communication, expecting to film interview or monologue. Why no film of the hike to the site? Default to action.
Oh okay was it really poor miscommunication since she said interview with him looking into the camera though? I thought she was pretty clear, but then when he got there, it was completely changed to something else it seemed, but I thought she was clear in what she wanted, then changed her mind for some reason, or so it seemed.

I did film parts of the hike yes. I shot them walking up the hill from further away. That's why I didn't talk to him as much cause I thought I would get footage of him walking there and then once we got there, I thought I would wire him for sound, but I didn't know that I wouldn't be allowed to to talk to him once we reached the spot.
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Old August 20th, 2019, 07:37 AM   #13
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Re: How should I handle this problem with a client and friend?

Actually you sound at fault. It shouldn’t have been a secret the point of going to this location was to film the ceremony. You should have miced him up when you arrived and been ready to record. It’s not uncommon to have a change of plan. They must have had a conversation but you weren’t paying attention. Two minutes in wasn’t the time to ask if you should be recording.
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Old August 20th, 2019, 09:32 AM   #14
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Re: How should I handle this problem with a client and friend?

It may have not been necessary to mic him up, outside in the forest? If he's doing the sort of thing I've seen on TV, it isn't exactly quiet, so did you not have anemics attached to the camera with cables - or is your DSLR unable to handle sound at all?
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Old August 20th, 2019, 10:10 AM   #15
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Re: How should I handle this problem with a client and friend?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
It may have not been necessary to mic him up, outside in the forest? If he's doing the sort of thing I've seen on TV, it isn't exactly quiet, so did you not have anemics attached to the camera with cables - or is your DSLR unable to handle sound at all?
I would have moved in close and used the internal mics and it should have been ok.
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