On a film production, it's important to communicate to both cast and crew so that the members of the team understand what is happening with the film schedule on the day. It's also important to communicate for safety reasons, so all of the people on the movie set know what to expect and can be safe on set.
- In this whole chapter, we're going to look at keeping the crew happy. I've been on sets where the crew is united and hating the production, and every second is just pure agony. And it seems like there's always someone on set that is just overtly negative, and that attitude has a tendency to spread quickly through the production unless people are kept happy. One of the most important things you can do is be honest and upfront with your crew. Look, unexpected problems happen on every set. Everybody makes mistakes sometimes. From my experience, crews might grumble a little bit, but they're quick to forgive.
They wanna make a good movie too. So they're usually willing to step up if there's a problem, unless they've been lied to or mislead. Because we didn't have pre-production meetings as an entire team, we had a lot of issues that would've been solved with better communication. I never mentioned to my AD's that my wife Heather and I made personalized goody bags for every single member of the cast and the crew, including each of the extras. So a lot of the extras left without even knowing about the goody bags, which was our way of thanking them for their work in the film.
That was a heartbreaking, embarrassing blunder that was 100% my fault because I didn't have the necessary pre-production meetings, or communicate well to my AD's. We also had to be honest with our crew that night. We had a big night shoot scheduled. We set up and we got a few great shots out of it. But as we'll talk more about it in chapter six, I knew we weren't going to get any more usable footage. We could've just pressed forward, so we maintain this appearance that everything was going exactly as planned, but it wasn't. So we were up front with the crew, and told them exactly what was going on right then.
Let's also not forget the moment we talked about in the last training series on directing. I was stressed while filming the pivotal goodbye scene, and wasn't really listening well to the crew and their concerns, and so they kind of banded together a little bit. In between takes they would talk to each other about the bad decisions I was making, and they were a little cold to me. You can tell that they just stopped feeling like collaborative partners, and it added to the stress of the shoot. Once they felt heard, you could just see it in their body language, that they were on my team again.
On the third day of production, we had a major reset, right at the beginning of the day. That was so embarrassing for me. The day I had planned was way too ambitious, and I was the only one that planned it, so it was completely my fault. I was torn because as director, producer, and DP, if I look like an idiot, I lose everyone's trust on every level, so I could've just proceeded as planned, in order to save face even though it would hurt the film, but I decided to just be upfront and honest with everyone, and as we'll see in chapter six, I borrowed our first AD and Scripts Advisor to help me out, but I kept our department heads in the loop as much as possible.
As you'll see in chapter six, being upfront and honest worked out very well. The cast and crew were extremely supportive about the time that I had wasted because of my mistakes, but the lesson here is that communicating with your crew, and being completely open and transparent with them, is always the correct decision.
Find the rest of the courses in the series—on everything from script writing to directing—on Chad's author page.
- Understanding the role of different crew members
- Sending out call sheets
- Using a slate
- Keeping continuity with a script supervisor and production photographer
- Keeping the crew fed, happy, and safe
- Rescheduling shoots
- Dealing with wardrobe for a large cast
- Using special effects makeup