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Pro Video Tips is designed for busy videographers like you. This series brings you a new tip every week, on everything from controlling reflections to hiding mics. Host Anthony Q. Artis covers shooting techniques for particular video challenges like portraits, tools to help you control light and judge exposure, and advice for the traveling videographer, such as putting together a great lens kit or packing a truck. Come back every Tuesday for a new round of tips.
- One of the things I really like to do on Pro Video Tips and elsewhere is try to help people with some of the many practical aspects of filmmaking that aren't covered in textbooks or film school. So, in keeping with that goal, I wanna share my advice for one of the biggest challenges many of you will face on your first big project, and that's managing your crew. The cold reality that many new filmmakers discover is that although they may have spent hours thinking about and mastering the technology and methodology of filmmaking, often times, those are the easiest things to control and master.
Perhaps the hardest thing to master on any production at any budget level will always be the people. If you truly wanna be successful as a filmmaker, even more so than the technology, you will have to learn to master the many people you will need to help you make your project. By mastering people, what I'm really referring to is developing solid people skills and really mastering ourselves, which essentially means learning how to deal with a wide variety of very real and complex human personalities, conflicts, and emotions within your crew and within yourself.
So, now I'm gonna break down seven tips for better managing your crew. First and foremost, it's extremely important that you understand that directing is a position of leadership. Apart from the requisite skills of technical filmmaking, planning, and budgeting, no matter how much talent you have, or how much prep you put in, you still have to command one of the most challenging aspects of filmmaking and that's being a leader. Being a manager, a supervisor. Commanding a group of individuals to all be on the same page at the same time and functioning in unity to achieve your creative vision.
It's so much easier or simpler to command shots, equipment, and words on a page than it is to command people. As a leader, you have to first possess the maturity to put the production before your personal needs. Know how to be diplomatic and resolve, or better yet, avoid crew conflicts. You have to possess the wisdom to know when to let something slide and to know when to stomp it out forcefully right then and there. You have to possess the kindness to be compassionate with other people's mistakes, but still have the harshness to discipline or fire people whenever it's necessary.
You have to have the courage to take responsibility for your decisions, even when they're wrong, and at the same exact time, you need to have the grace to be humble and share the credit for everything that goes right. Unfortunately, crew dynamics and leadership aren't really subjects that are covered much in film school or touched upon in too many film books. It really is a sink or swim lesson that most filmmakers will only learn from helming a crew, unless they somehow have previous experience as a manager or supervisor to a large group of people.
Nevertheless, leadership is a quality that you ultimately must develop to be successful at filmmaking. While there aren't many books on the subject, I do wanna recommend two film books that I found particularly helpful in this area. The first one is Christine Vachon's producing primer, Shooting to Kill and the other is What They Don't Teach You at Film School by Camille Landau and Tiare White.
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