Tips to sharpen your e-mail game and stay on top of everything

It’s amazing how much time one can spend on any given production reading, sorting, replying to and writing emails. Sometime the emails I receive look as if a third grader wrote them and other times I am impressed with the meticulous detail and thought that went into a certain “email message.”

Below I have come up with some tips to increase your email game and stay on top of everyting.

  1. Use an e-mail client. If you are a mac user you can easily use the Apple Mail client or Outlook for PC users. Using an e-mail client will allow you to manage your email easier by having your mail at your finger-tips. There was one point where I got so bogged down in emails that I switched to a paid mail client. I currently use Super Human and love it.
  2. Create a relevant title in the subject. Because we all get so many emails its important to title your email appropriately. If I worked in commercials and got an email about location update this could be confusing because I could be working on multiple commercials at the same time. I prefer titles that start with the project with a dash to the subject of the email.

    An example of a proper title would be: Movie Title – Crew Housing Updates

  3. Send the email to the right people. I know this may sound obvious, but there are so many times where an email does not properly get into the hands of the people that really need to see it. If you aren’t sure who to send the email to or who to CC or BC it is always a good idea to ask. When starting a new project ask your supervisor what type of emails he/she likes to be copied on.
  4. Use a distro program when sending emails to the entire cast/crew. There are many software applications designed to send company wide emails in the film industry. What I appreciate about these programs is that they allow you to be able to watermark scripts/documents and easily update the groups with a click of a few buttons. A few of the programs out there include Setkeeper, Croogloo, EP Scenechronize, Studio Binder and Yamdu. One problem with sending an email to 100+ people with gmail/yahoo etc is that many times emails of this nature will get flagged as spam causing the important call sheet email to go to someone’s junk folder.
  5. Collaborate with others on the content of emails. If I’m sending an important company wide email I like to get a second pair of eyes to see what could be added/subtracted. Consider using a google doc to write the email and share with others so they can tweak and make suggestions.
  6. Use an email signature. It’s NOT important to add your email address in your email signature in my opinion because this is redundant. Here is an example of an email signature…
              John Smith
              UPM | Name of Movie
               +1 123-456-7899
  7. Keep your email concise. Writing an email that is more than 5-6 sentences will dramatically increase the chances that the email will be read in its entirety. If you have to send a really long email consider that maybe the content of the email could be relayed at a meeting or in three smaller emails.
  8. Add a simple greeting and simple thanks. The greeting can be short like Hi All or Hi Crew. Consider ending the email with an encouraging word or even just thanks.
  9. Bold or Highlight important items. I’ve noticed that if I highlight certain sentences in yellow or red that they will really pop. DO NOT PARK ON SET will often be highlighted in YELLOW and same with COVID TEST upon arrival etc..
  10. Decide when to send an email. Just because you can send an email at 9pm on Sunday does not mean you should. Can the info wait? Yes there will be times that emails should go out on a weekend or when people are off, however if there are items that are non-pressing I find that its a good idea to wait and send the email at a time and day that I know most people will be in work-mode. If I do get an email on an off-day I will probably still read the email, however I will sometimes be annoyed and forget to reply.
  11. Add a call to action if necessary. If you need people to confirm they have received the email or need them to reply they will be at the production meeting I like to add something in the email that specifies.

    An example: Please reply “Got It” by 7pm tonight that you will be at the table read this Friday.

  12. Follow up on emails that were never answered. This is a common occurrence in today’s world. The non-response when you have sent an email that requires someone else’s attention and need to respond. There are several times when dealing with important issues such as city film permit that I will follow up and ask if they need any additional details.

    An example of a reply:

    Hi

    I just wanted to follow up on the email I sent on Friday. Do you need any additional details for the permit? I’m happy to jump on a call to discuss if there is anything unclear about the route for the process trailer.

    another example

    Hi

    Did you see my email about the location scout tomorrow? Do you have any notes?

  13. Attach the right items to the email as PDF. When sending complicated emails like a Call Sheet email I like to make sure that all the documents are in PDF format and are labeled properly. I like to attach the Call Sheet, Digital Sides, Map, Overhead, Safety Memo (if there is one), Shot-list (if avail) etc. Not having digital sides as part of the call sheet email is really unacceptable in my opinion. Having the sides allows every department the ability to see what is in the scenes without having to rely on paper sides which can sometimes be a hassle to keep track of etc..
  14. Add a meme when necessary. Memes can be fun and who doesn’t love a good one.

How to land your next film crew job

One of the challenging things about working in the film/tv industry is that you are most always looking for the next job/gig unless you happen to be lucky enough to work on a six month tv-series or the next Marvel movie that has an extended shooting schedule.

How does one land that next job/gig/position as an AD, UPM etc?

Below I have come up with a list of ways you can use to secure that next job.

  1. Know someone who is hiring. For better or worse this is the number one way to land your next job. Who do you know that is in a hiring position and is the “decision maker” on a project that is in development or in pre-production? Even if they don’t currently have a job opening..they may have an opening tomorrow or next week or next year. Maintaining relationships with people over the years and reminding them you exist can be paramount to securing that job that is currently vacant. More than just knowing this person who is hiring…is the person you know excited to consider you because you did an awesome job the last time you worked for them? People want to hire people they know who are great to work with…plain and simple.

  2. Know someone who knows someone who is hiring. If I’m in a position to hire someone and all the people I know are currently booked, the next method of securing that position is to ask others for trusted referrals. The referral is very important because it’s easier to trust other crew member referrals than a resume of someone I have never worked with. A referral could come from anyone really. I was once referred as a 1st AD by the craft service person…
  3. Apply for positions on Facebook. Yes I know not everyone uses facebook, however there are hundreds of film facebook groups and many groups specifically for ADs, Production, Line Producers etc. The great thing about facebook groups is that by joining these groups they will notify you of new posts.
  4. Apply for positions on Film Crew websites. Sites like staffmeup.com,  Mandy.com, IMDbpro.com are just a few of the many film crew websites out there were you can search by position and area etc.
  5. Check local film commission job listings. Many cities and states that have a film commission will also list an email that you can send your resume for upcoming projects and sometimes they might even list specific positions that are vacant.
  6. Update your avail on the DGA Avail List. If you are a member of the DGA you can list yourself as available once you login to the website in the availability section. Producers and UPMs occasionally will look at this list when trying to fill certain vacancies.
  7. Secure an Agent. Agents can broaden your network and help you to land meetings with Producers and Directors that once may have been impossible to get.
  8. Join a committee, organization etc. Expand your network and meet other people in the film industry by staying active and contributing in various ways that allow you make new connections.
  9. Research projects that get green-lit. Occasionally films that are about to go into production will be announced on the trades such as Deadline or Hollywood Reporter. In addition to the trades you can search IMDbpro to see what projects are tracking and contact producers and UPMs that list their contact info. Occasionally you may notice someone you know who is attached to a project which could lead to an open door.
  10. Remind people you exist. This is different for everyone but finding that way to network online or in person is important to stay present in people’s mind. Follow your favorite crew members on instagram or send an email/text to people with your updated resume letting them know you are avail and looking for work.