Starting out in film is not an easy task, so that’s why finding effective ways that could help motivate your film crew is important. Creating a unique approach to how you tackle your work takes time and effort, but as a filmmaker you should dig deep into yourself and even be open to exploring other professional areas. If not only to enrich yourself with experience, most certainly to know exactly what kind of jobs and requirements are needed in order to have a successful career as a filmmaker.
In my experience as a director (and I have had some, I promise) my goal is always to be a positive light that inspires other people to do their best work. Do you know that feeling when you start an internship or a new job, and nobody in the office is open and welcoming? Remember that feeling, and always keep it in mind. If you’re only now starting out and making short films, know that you can most definitely make films with a very small or even no budget, but you need to understand how the industry works and how you should go on about yourself during the whole process. Here are some tips that have helped me in the past:
Be respectful and organized
Why not make weekly meeting with your heads of departments? This way they can talk to other members of the film crew, and get ready for filming. Everybody likes when things are made very clear from the start, that way people can organize their time and do the best job they can. Respect that, and respect everyones time and the work they are putting put into the film, because if you do not make it clear some people will struggle with giving you their best.
Create a relationship with the film crew you’re working with
Make sure that you make yourself approachable, and always be aware of the atmosphere you helped create. Find a 1st Assistant Director and Producer who you have chemistry with, and you can rely on. Have a constant relationship with your cast and film crew, and explain to them that together you can solve any problem that arises. If you want people to work with you, you have to find a way to sell them your idea and stimulate them to give you the best they’ve got!
Don’t be afraid of your actors
This might be the most common thing I have noticed with filmmakers who want to be directors (which would be 98% of people in film schools) – everybody is afraid of actors! When I say afraid, I obviously don’t mean Pennywise is on set type of afraid, but in most cases just not being able to handle working closely with actors. Actresses and actors are usually a very open and emotional type of human being, mostly because their job and calling consists of exploring many different facets of the human psyche and relationships. With saying this, I understand it can be difficult to approach them and find a way to help navigate them in the right direction. Take an acting class or two, or do improv and get to know how they work so you can find a mutual language.
Find a way to make people excited about coming to set to work on your film
I like to think of every film I make as a little start up business that you know is going to disappear very soon – this may sound sad, but it’s a really good way to think of a film set. Most people know that when the film is over, they will have to go do other projects, but why not motivate them and take the time to make it a safe, enjoyable and comfortable experience while you are at it? While in pre-production, talk openly to your crew about the ideas you have and certainly be open to listening to suggestions and ideas – acknowledge the fact that other people might know more than you. Think about what all of you will get from making this film? Credits? Festival presence? Promotion? There are many ways to get people excited, you just need to figure out what types of creative individuals you are working with.
Think of the power of marketing and promotion – if you’re only now starting out and have a relatively inexperienced crew, you could always create a social media campaign to follow your film and promote all of your cast and crew on it, giving them all a platform to shine and be noticed by other possible filmmakers or production companies! Check out this fantastic blog post if you’re only starting out to give you more of an insight into what compromises low budget filmmakers make and how they adapt.
Introduce yourself to everyone and anyone you haven’t met before on set
Remember the job thing we talked about? Exactly, a firm handshake and smile can get you many places – in this case, maybe even to a film festival!
Make sure you are loud and clear, without being condescending
Being unnecessarily mean and bossy doesn’t create a productive atmosphere, trust me. I’ve been around many talented and creative individuals who have told me horror stories of working on set with certain 1st Assistant Directors or Producers, and the film crew they would never work again. If you do a bad job, you could get blacklisted – but if you give a 100% and do your best , trust me you will get jobs as soon as possible!
Be certain that all of your crew members can handle their equipment
A lot of times on set I’ve worked with friends who are filmmakers, but may not be experts in the department they’re working on at the moment. Make sure that everyone tests their equipment and that they’re able to properly work it – do not wait for post-production to fix things, that rarely ever works out.
Rely on the people you’re working with
It’s not a surprise that the film industry is full of competition, but always make sure you rely on your film crew and heads of departments, because they have a lot to bring to the final product of your film. Nobody in this industry has ever achieved anything on their own, and there is never only one person who is successful.
“The recognition of multiple creative presences in cinema has, oddly, not always led to the abandonment of auteurism as a conceptual model. Instead, having to mitigate the role of the director, critics have sometimes searched for alternative auteurs with respect to particular ﬁlms.” (Dix, Andrew. 2016. Beginning Film Studies. 2nd ed. Manchester: Manchester University Press.)
Always take the advice that you get from your mentors and tutors with a grain of salt, but know that there are some very important tips and tricks which all of us could definitely use. Everyone has different experiences in film and life, and you need to know exactly what to take from successful people and recognize which of the things will help you be the best version of yourself.