Trust, Don’t Let It Plague Your Production

Ok, so trust doesn’t plague your production, rather a lack of trust does.

Trust Your Team.

Sounds like a no brainer right? Well it should be, but unfortunately the high level of stress that occurs in any given production starts to bring out those little things we all like to pretend we don’t have; insecurities. Whether we are worried about our own ability for a particular job or the abilities of the team we are working with, insecurities will plague a production. While we can’t get rid of these, if we are aware of them, we can learn to let go a little resulting in a smoother, calmer production day.

Trusting your team is easier said than done. Perhaps you’ve never worked with your DP or Gaffer before and you are walking into a pretty big job. Maybe you’ve been burned in the past and that experience rings clearly in your mind every time you walk on set. There are endless reasons why we don’t trust people.

Trust is one of those things that is easier lost than gained but it is critical for success. A little secret to overcoming this problem is the simple act of communication. Learn to listen as well as talk. Fight the urge to immediately become defensive when someone comes to you with a change or a problem. First take the time to listen to what they are saying, once you’ve heard everything you’ll be in a much better place to respond with something useful.

It takes more than just communication but good communication will smooth out many of the problems that occur on every set. I realize that many people reading these may not be in a position where they get to decide who they work with, the crew has been hired by the production company or the agency and you are one of the crew.

So what can you do to help promote good communication and trust in a situation like this?

Many times if  you are freelance and are consistently working you will be on set with at least one person that you’ve worked with before. Maybe you are a grip and on this job you have worked with the Key PA on a few other jobs. If you had a good experience with that Key PA, let others on set know. You don’t need to brag, but if you are chatting with someone who hasn’t worked with that PA, mention some good things about them. Sometimes all people need is a little validation that the shoot is going to be a success. Spreading known success goes for all crew you may have worked with and trust. Here is an example using this scenario.

Acme Tech Company has hired a creative agency to produce a 3 min opening video for a CEO Keynote Speech. The Producer from the creative agency is tasked with booking the crew. The Producer calls his/her usual crew and uh oh…they are booked on another job. So they start checking around and eventually get all crew members booked many of whom they have not worked with before. Let’s say in this example they haven’t worked with the Key PA and the Audio Tech.  If something goes awry with one of the crew during the shoot day an easy target for blame would be the Producer since they were responsible for booking the crew. The Producer realizes this and it is always a worry in the back of their mind all the way through the shoot day until they hears those glorious words “That’s a wrap!” That Producer whether they like it or not, has tension inside.

If you are the grip on this job as mentioned earlier and you have worked with the Key PA, it would benefit the team as a whole if at the beginning of  the day you made small talk with the Producer and slyly mentioned your previous experience with the Key PA, how organized they were and what a success that shoot turned out to be. Getting the positive energy and confidence out there at the beginning of the day really works wonders in this industry. You would be amazed how much calmer the set becomes and that is always the goal…to have a smooth, calm, productive shoot day.

I used the Producer in this example because in my experience they are always the worriers and rightfully so! Help them feel confident, trusting, and calm and it will trickle on down, it is truly amazing how important this is and how well it works. Help your Producer whenever possible.

If you are in the position to choose your team, work with people you’ve worked will before and with whom you trust. When you have the option to do this you will immediately be in for a smoother shoot day. That’s why it’s sometimes hard to break into a new market, crews want to be on calm, smooth sailing sets so they tend to form tightly knit groups. When you are the new one on set, be that hard working, calm, upbeat person and you will gain the respect of the crew very quickly.

Trust is also a selling point when bidding. Whenever I’m bidding out a project and the client asks about crew, like most people, I recommend my A-Listers. Many times they are not the cheapest option and the client will sometimes offer cheap alternatives. I use trust all the time as a selling point. I explain how hectic a set can get and that working with a trusted calm crew will increase the chances of success tenfold. Many times I use the surgeon example. If you were going in for heart surgery, would you want the fastest, cheapest surgeon or the one with the best track record whom you trust.

Be calm, humble, hardworking and help others feel confident on set and your shoot will be a success!