Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Guidelines for my crew. These may not be for you.

From time to time, I get to be the producer/director of a show and hire technicians, engineers, and camera operators to join my team. After 20 years as a video professional, including 8 years of being the Technical Producer for TEDxGreenville, I've come up with a the list of guidelines and expectations I give all the people on my crew. I got the seeds of this list from my friend Phil Cooke. You can find his blog here:

1) Show up early. Our client paid us to be on time, and nobody’s going to wait for you. Show up on time even if it means you leave 2 hours early in case of traffic.

1a) Wear all black shirt and pants, including socks.

1b) Phones on vibrate. Communicate to your teammates directly using spoken words or eye-to-eye contact, don't rely on text messages. The primary way to communicate to me is face-to-face or over coms.

2) If the producer, client, the assistant’s assistant, or anyone else is carrying more equipment than you, step in and help.

3) Bring an umbrella, coat, flashlight, headlamps, protein bars, sunglasses, uber fare, mobile phone charger – and anything else you can think of – because Murphy’s Law is real. Keep track of your own stuff.

3a) Bring your own tools of the trade. I may not loan you tools out of my tool belt
4) Spot issues before they become problems and report as fast as possible. Make things happen. Nobody wants to hear that it can’t be done. We’ve all made the impossible happen before or we wouldn’t have survived this long in the video business. I’m not interested in hearing about your problems. I’m interested in solutions.

5) Bring a notepad and pen. Someone’s going to give you orders. Write it down.

6) Your job is to help make the production happen. You can’t get distracted by taking selfie’s of you next to the cool camera, raiding the craft service table, or chatting up with your girlfriend or the cute makeup artist. Concentrate.

7) Be a problem solver. Take initiative to learn as much as possible about the project. Don’t wait to be told – find what needs to be done and do it. If you have to be told more than twice, I’ll find somebody else.

8) It’s not about you. Don’t be the first in line at lunch. Give up your seat for a client. Don’t take the closest parking space. We all know you’re a genius and should actually be in charge, but right now, you need to be a team player.

9) I may not remember what you did right, but I’ll sure as heck remember what you did wrong. If you want to get invited back next time, put some effort into not messing up.

10) Be the last person to leave. If the director has to work extra to tidy up at the end of the day because you left early, you may not stay on my go-to list.

11) Keep all areas neat and orderly.
11a) Know how to roll up a cable.
11b) Know how to gaff tape wires across a doorway.
11c) Know when to gaff tape cables (Correct answer: just before the actual event, no sooner.)
11d) Keep travel cases and storage containers closed and latched.
12) Be hyper-aware of your situation and put a priority on safety to the audience and clients.

13) Absolutely no drinks in cups, use capped bottles only. Don’t spill your drink. Everybody, including me, gets a 10% cut in pay if somebody spills anything. I’m not kidding.