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The Fine Art Of Crewing A Movie

So you’ve got your lead actors hired, found your funding and now you are looking to hire your crew. Seems like the best plan is to go after and get the most experienced, most award winning crew members who will work for your budget. But is that what you want to do when crewing a movie?

But that plan can often lead to disaster, or at a minimum an unpleasant and less than rewarding experience for all involved.

The single most important thing that any Producer, Line Producer or Director, should be considering when building their crew, is whether these crew members on this film, with this script, and this production plan can work together well. That is a big part of the art of producing.

You must understand the personality of the Director and then staff accordingly in a way that will help him or her succeed. If the Director is soft-spoken you might want a strong 1st AD… or the opposite… a gentle-understanding 1st AD might be better with a more aggressive director.

A complementary but not identical vision...

Moreover, it is not just about the linear relationships between the Director and Cinematographer, or the Director and Production Designer, but also about the working relationships between the individual departments – can the Cinematographer and Production Designer work well together? Do they share complementary vision? Not an identical vision, but two visions that are complementary?

There is nothing worse than a Cinematographer who hates the work of the Production Designer. Or a Designer who doesn’t like what the Costume Designer creates. I am speaking about equally talented and gifted individuals. They have to be able to play in the sandbox together. And that’s what you are looking for when staffing a movie.

The big key here is that a perfectly staffed crew on one production may not be perfectly staffed on another. Early in my career, I produced two short films using an identical crew for both and two different directors. One film was a dream to make, the other a near-nightmare. So hiring a film is always a very dynamic thing… it is an ART and not a science, or an accounting spreadsheet.

I am curious to hear what things, from your experience, you think are important in hiring a crew.


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