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Old 01-13-2018, 02:46 PM   #37
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Join Date: Nov 2012
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Originally Posted by rishi851 View Post
Can you tell me what makes a terrible producer/director? I am going on floor for my first feature in a few months and producing it also, I'd like the tips.
And any other production basics? catering, transport, generator?

Thanks and cheers
Just to clarify terms, TV is a producer’s medium. Film is a director’s medium. Whichever role you fill:
  1. Communicate with your crew. Don’t assume they all can read your mind. You can’t get pissy with the crew for not getting something you never told them you need.
  2. Assuming #1 above, everyone has the same end-goal. The departments have their own responsibilities, but the paths converge at the same point. You need to have a working understanding of how the departments operate, intercommunicate, and impact one another. Your job is to facilitate this, occasionally to quash drama, and to make sure that each department has what it needs. Their success is your success.
  3. If you can, take a workshop on pastoral care. If there is some sort of interpersonal conflict on set, or if you have a crew member who is distracted by outside stresses, pastoral skills will be incredibly helpful in handling the situation. Yelling, telling them to put on their big kid pants and deal with it, or otherwise placing both blame and responsibility on them will not solve any problems and will likely create new ones. This won’t qualify you as a phsychologist or counselor, but it’ll give you the tools you need to listen and respond, and to know when you have hit the limit of what you can handle yourself.
  4. The producer or director sets the attitude on set. If your first introduction is to yell at the crew, or to be condescending or arrogant, that’ll define the rest of the production and good luck to you with getting what you want or need from them. We’re all responsible adults, so please treat us like we are.
  5. Feed your crew, and feed them well. That doesn’t mean filet mignon every day; it means sustainable nutrition. If you’re on a large production with a huge meal and crafty budget, you can hire skilled professionals and rely on them to take care of that (be sure to talk to them about expectations up front... again, nobody’s a mind reader). If you’re on a smaller production where you may be responsible for lining up some of those details, be intentional about meal plans. Crafty that’s just candy, chips, and soda won’t work, especially to keep folks moving between meals. Protein and fiber are necessary, so focus more on things like meat/cheese trays, veggies and dips, fruits, and hummus/chips/salsa. Meals should be more than fat/salt/carb bombs, and carb-heavy meals make the crew sleepy about an hour later, and hungry again an hour after that. These are not expensive goals to acheive, but require attention and intentional planning.
  6. Be cognizant of meal times. Even if you aren’t a union production, try to keep to union standards on meal penalties. Just as important as quality of nutrition is making sure folks have a reasonable opportunity to eat at expected intervals. The producer/director that ignores meals, or constantly pushes the crew into meal penalties just because “we need to get this done”, will end up with a crew that is hangry and resentful. If, on the rare occasion where it might be worthwhile to delay a meal break because of circumstance, go back to #1 and communicate with the crew up-front. Get everyone on the same page. Your actors may have finally hit a rhythm that needs to be harnessed to complete the scene, or you may be on a time constraint for the location’s availability or the return of the construction crew across the street. These are the exceptions, not the rules, and if the crew is all on board and it isn’t habitual, they’ll be more motivated to push through. Even then, do everything in your power to minimize the amount of time it takes to get to meal break.
  7. Thank your crew daily, not just as a crowd but on an individual basis and by name. The “no news is good news” boss does nothing to motivate the crew because everyone eventually learns that they only time they’ll hear anything is when the boss is pissed. That keeps everyone on eggshells... not a good way to live.
  8. Trust your people. If you micromanage, especially outside of your area of expertise, you are tying your crew’s hands and hindering their ability to get the job done. You hired a PSM to get the best sound possible, so don’t order that the boom MUST be a ___ mic. Just because you heard one time that the CMIT is a damn fine mic doesn’t mean it’s the best tool for that job, and doesn’t mean it’s the mic that your PSM and your boom op know or prefer most. You hired a DoP to shape the image you want, so mandating that they have to use ___ LED panels because you think they’re trendy puts your DoP and the entire camera and lighting/gaff crews in a bind. What if HMI is better for the production? Or tungsten? Trust your people to do their jobs; if you don’t trust them, you hired the wrong people (or, more likely, you have a stick up your ass that needs to be removed post haste).
  9. Nobody on set is such hot shit that they’re above even casual conversation with even the lowest rung on the ladder. That includes you.
  10. Know your own job. Just as annoying as a producer or director who tries to do everyone else’s job, is one who leaves tons of slack that others end up having to pick up.

Last edited by AcousticAl; 01-13-2018 at 03:09 PM.
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