by Darya Danesh | 2nd November 2015
This is a guest article by Darya Danesh from StudioBinder. Production is not for the faint of heart. Long hours, physical strain, and emotional exhaustion are part of the job. Stress can bring out the worst in people, and when you have to work with difficult personalities on set, a production can can go south quickly. So what’s the best way to work with challenging people on set? We asked Angela Tortu, a seasoned assistant director who has worked on a wide array of productions, from big budget features like Crimson Tide to shows like Entourage and Scrubs, how she sidesteps potential issues on set. 1. Look for opportunities to build trust Oftentimes, “difficult” people simply want to know that their concerns are being heard. When a problem does arise, take a breath, and give them a chance to express their side of the story. This is usually enough to turn the situation around. Angela Tortu recalls a tense experience with Sharon Stone in regards to blocking: “I noticed that Sharon was getting frustrated, and preparing herself for a big battle. She huffed, ‘I’m not going to do that. I need a stunt double.’ Rather than forcing the issue, I just replied ‘That’s not a problem at all. Do you have a preferred stunt double? I’ll be happy to call her.’ Sharon was surprised that I didn’t push back at all. With a softer tone she replied, “Really? Okay. Great!” The following day she came in with an upbeat attitude, and requested to speak directly with me for the remainder of the shoot.” According to Tortu, one of the most important building blocks for trust is to make a sincere and proactive effort to listen to the concerns rather than letting them fester. Do this and you’ll be seen as someone who “gets it.” 2. There’s no magic bullet, so find creative solutions This is a people-oriented business, and people are different. A solution that may work for one person may not work for another, so make it a habit to identify solutions that fit the situation and the individual. For example, if your lead actor is chronically late to set but sensitive about the topic, forego the discussion altogether and try making their call time earlier. Tortu recalls an experience on set of a commercial where one of the leads, a 5 year-old girl, refused to exit her trailer. “No matter what we said or did, she just wouldn’t come out. So finally, we decided to bribe her with toys and candy. After a few minutes, she finally stepped out. It might seem a bit silly, but it worked for that situation.” 3. Don’t make a scene when someone messes up Every job on set is important, and all positions deserve respect. However, as tensions escalate, some people may blow off steam in public (we’re looking at you, Christian Bale). Whatever you do, don’t allow anyone, especially yourself, to have a meltdown on set. Not only does it make everyone uncomfortable, but it destroys hard-earned good will. “When somebody is chronically difficult or makes a serious mistake on set, never make a scene of it. No one should ever be treated like a piñata, and broken in front others,” says Tortu. Instead, pull the person aside and engage in a private conversation one-on-one. If the issue turns out to be chronic, get the producer involved. Difficult situations come with the job. When in doubt, listen, be kind and tailor your solutions to the individual’s needs. Do that and you’ll be well on your way building a positive culture on set. Darya Danesh is Co-founder and Content Director at StudioBinder. This blog post originally appeared on StudioBinder’s blog.Read more
Watch previous episodes of ON THE COUCH & ON THE GO by clicking here! Visit our Vimeo and YouTube playlists, and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes! Here’s episode 11 of ON THE COUCH, and it’s one of my all-time favorite episodes, in which I was happy to talk to Lan and Vu Bui, the “cinematography brothers” who recently finished shooting a feature film called “20 Feet Below – The Darkness Descending”, as well as director Jan Woletz and producer / VFX man Christof Dertschei, the people behind the upcoming web series “Wienerland”, which we already reported about in detail in this recent post. That’s one lively 50 minute discussion and it shouldn’t be missed by any of our viewers. Vu and Lan Bui talking about the pitfalls of crowd funding & 4K shooting Here’s the gist of the content: • Is 4K a waste of time and money or not? Some very diverging opinions and experiences about shooting on 4K are discussed – Jan and Christof highlight how shooting in 4K on the 1DC with director of photography (and cinema5D partner) Johnnie Behiri saved their butts because they ran out of time but were able to crop into the wide shots to still get those “close ups” that were needed. Lan and Vu argue how much effort needs to be added to post production when dealing with 4K, despite the fact that virtually no clients demands 4K finishing in this day and age. • Crowd funding for indie productions The greatest part of the discussion is about how to fund films via crowd funding. Vu and Lan Bui have a lot of experience with crowd funding because of the feature film “20 Feet Below” and other projects, while Jan Woletz and Christof Dertschei are on the brink of starting their Kickstarter campaign for Wienerland. They talk about how important it is to build an audience before you actually start the campaign, about budgeting for production as well as the perks that are given out – which eat up a big part of the crowd funding revenue if done right. Also, we talked about how important it is to be fair to your audience and team members when asking the public for money, because very often filmmakers only think about the cost of the gear that needs to be used, while they “forget” to actually pay their cast & crew. Lan and Vu talk about the importance of having a “bigger name” no their cast list – like in their case Danny Trejo. Jan Woletz said to that casting choice, “Danny Trejo’s face is the best reason to shoot in 4K,” and I have to say he might be right :) This is an incredibly engaging discussion and I recommend it to anyone who is interesting in finance any kinds of projects via crowd funding, there is so much to learn from all these guys! Jan Woletz & Christof Dertschei, the director & producer behind “Wienerland” Huge thanks especially to Katharina Dietl for her work on that show, we had serious audio problems and she worked tirelessly on fixing these to get this show finally out (and she also did the live edit and camera, assisted by Chloe Mae). For all ON THE COUCH episodes so far, click here:Read more
Well here’s another teaser for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Again from John Brawley. It’s an edit of rushes, no sound. This was shot with the lenses stopped down to around f4.0, some shots show some fringing though and others reveal something that looks like lens softness to me and I would think more open apertures were used at times. I think this suggests that the small sensor will probably bring out the worse parts in your large lenses. It would make sense as a much smaller portion of the glass is used on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera’s small sensor, but is blown up to HD resolution as we’re used to.Read more
B&H offers a very interesting deal on the Canon EOS 7D body that expires today. Regardless of the meaning of this huge sale here’s a chance to get a new 7D at a very affordable price. Why this deal is interesting even though the new & cheaper EOS T4i/650D (Review here: LINK) offers some better features and the identical feature: Because Canon announced a significant firmware update for the 7D that will bring manual audio during recording. Scheduled for August: LINK And because Mosaic Engineering released their anti aliasing filter that impressed us and shows that the 7D still has balls. Review here: LINK Canon 7D for $1345 (only today) at B&HRead more
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