Prior to working in the film industry I worked for several non-profits for years at a time. During that time I worked closely with several of the employees who quickly became friends and I was able to see how they worked and what their quirks were. There were even many times that we would do team-bonding events and learn about each others strengths/weaknesses and sometimes personality profiles.
The secret to really sharing the same values was having the time to get to know each other and learn how everyone likes to work.
In the film industry one problem is the often short-term approach to working together. Whether its a commercial, music video, feature or pilot… Crew members are often forced to quickly adapt to new people and new ways of doing things in their approach to work. Sometimes this type of immersion works and sometimes personalities will clash. It’s not a bad thing to work with new people and discover new ways of doing things, however at the end of the day there can be challenges with new personalities when a culture is never established early on.
One thing that I am determined to do this year is to try and establish shared values early on whether with a dept of three or an entire crew. Your values may change based on the type/size of the project or the people involved.
Below I have listed a few of the values I aim to bring with me on the next project.
#1. Accomplish this week’s tasks like you were going to eat an elephant.
Don’t get overwhelmed. List the tasks you need to do and do everything one thing at a time.
#2. Imagine if this cast member was Tom Cruise….
If you were dealing with Tom Cruise would you point to the dressing room or trailer and say Tom its over there or would you walk with him and hold the door? Even if your actors are not famous or celebrities…how can you treat them in a way that makes them feel special.
#3. Pay people like they have $100 in the bank.
Whether or not people have $100 in the bank is not the issue. Imagine that that there is a crew member or extra that needs that paycheck to pay their rent or car payment or whatever…. Now sometimes there are delays in payments because of an ACH or payroll issue…but having this value among your accounting team is important to instill.
#4. Master the art of sending clear, concise and creative emails.
Take the time to craft emails so they look professional and are informative. Look for typos, errors and info that may not need to be included. Lengthy emails can be too cumbersome to be read and may be a waist of time.
#5. Focus on what is urgent important today that only you can do.
When you are faced with 100 tasks its vital that you and your team divide and conquer. You don’t want to spin your wheels doing everything when you have people on your team to focus on the tasks that they can specialize in.
#6. Relentlessly follow up with that unanswered question until it’s answered.
Occasionally there will be a question that someone poses via email/text etc. Don’t let it go unanswered. Get back to them and try and find the answer with an appropriate amount of time.
#7. Remember that someones lack of preparation on their part does not constitute an emergency on yours.
This famous saying is so important to remember because emergencies will come to us everyday…but we can’t always drop everything we are doing to attend to the emergency.
#8. Telling a great story sometimes mean you go over schedule or budget.
Yes I like staying on schedule and under budget, however at the end of the day no one will care if the project is lousy. Look for ways to tell a better story and be willing to adjust the schedule/budget in favor of the story.
#9. Create sacred space to share issues.
Whenever there are issues between crew members or cast its important to pull people aside and talk through the issues calmly. Avoid yelling in front of the entire crew or making a scene….this never ends well
You can use one or more of these shared values at the beginning of your production. Feel free to make up your own and mix them together. Write them on a wall or whiteboard somewhere. Don’t feel like you have to lecture the entire crew with a set of shared values. Maybe share a few of them with someone in your dept or ask a team member what values they want to instill in the crew.