From SoCal to NorCal…And Director Pet Peeves

18 02 2013

Tonight I had the awesome opportunity to share some words of encouragement with The Creative Crew, an artist’s meet-up group that my friend Tony Gapastione started up in Redwood City, CA. I had a great time sharing via FaceTime (don’t you just love technology?!) what I’ve learned throughout the years as a writer/director, they had some great questions, and it was just a lot of fun. They asked me to write down my top pet peeves as a director and to post them on their Facebook page so I thought it’d be fun to share them with you all as well. Ok so here goes…

My Top 5 On-Set Pet Peeves:

  1. When people don’t follow instructions. Quiet on the set means quiet on the set. This is not the time for you to tip toe over to the craft services table, no matter how quiet you think you’re being. Just sit down. Don’t you know the sound guy has bionic ears?
  2. Know-It-Alls. I’m all for collaboration. But have some set etiquette, dude. When it’s time to hear your opinion (because I’m sure it’s great), we will most certainly ask for it!
  3. Divas. I usually try to keep a pretty laid back set, and there is nothing more annoying than someone going around snapping at the cast and crew so that they can get their way. Calm down. It’s only a movie. We’re all working hard to make a good product so take a chill pill and try not to think of yourself  as more important than the rest of us.
  4. Not being honest about time commitments. I once had a D.P. (Director of Photography, i.e. camera guy) to tell me in the middle of our last day of shooting that he had to leave. You can imagine my disbelief when my main camera guy (whom I was paying, by the way) didn’t offer an explanation but just decided as we were setting up the last scene that he had to go. Fortunately, most of the equipment was my own, and the 2nd camera operator stepped up to the plate and shot the rest of the film (which turned out to be my favorite scene, BTW). Point being, if you know you have an appointment or an obligation at some point during the day, be honest about it and tell the producer or the director as early as possible, not as they’re about to call “Action!” I think he told me later on that he had an emergency or something. Still, communication is key, and the earlier that happens the better.
  5. People who crowd the “Video Village”. For those of you who don’t know, the “Video Village” is a nickname some people use for the area surrounding the video monitor on set. The people that need to watch the monitor during the shoot are usually: the director, the D.P., the gaffer, the assistant director, the production designer, the make-up artist/stylist, the producer, the script supervisor. These are the people that have specialized positions when it comes to the image that is in front of the camera. If something is wrong, these people have the knowledge and expertise to fix it. If you don’t have that type of position, then you shouldn’t be around the Video Village, especially if you are blocking the view of one of those people that needs to be there. For the record, sometimes actors can be in the Video Village, just as long as they don’t get too self-conscious about seeing their performance in an unedited form.

Those are just a few of my pet peeves. A lot of it really just comes down to set etiquette. Exercise some common decorum and you’ll build some good relationships on-set and stay in good graces with the director. 🙂

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