Rules For Beginning Filmmakers

25 06 2010

Michael Kammes, over at the aptly named, has a great post from a column that he wrote for POST Magazine. It’s basically a list of all of the stupid stuff that young filmmakers tend to do in their interviews for jobs. It’s definitely worth a read for everyone because he points out some really basic concepts that many new filmmakers — either DIYers looking to get hired on something that will pay the bills, or students just fresh out of school having never really been out in the Real World — just simply haven’t had the opportunity to learn.

What is his number one?

Be on time or early. I am absolutely amazed at how little this is followed. Yes, I know there is traffic. Yes I know there is rain. But that means nothing to the person who has 5 meetings after the one with you. Show respect to them and their project. Be on time or early.

That is also one of my pet peeves. It is completely true that someone who shows up late one day on a set is rarely asked back for a second day. There are pretty much no excuses which are acceptable. I’m convinced that that’s why there’s the food truck (the infamous “Roach Coach”) on set bright and early — way before call time. They say it’s to make sure that crew members don’t wander off looking for breakfast, but I think it’s because so many of us leave so early to avoid being late to call time that we end up getting to set pretty early.  And, therefore, need to put something in our mouths to distract us.

If you’re working on a big film, then holding up a shoot is costing tens of thousands of dollars each hour. If you’re working on a low budget film, then holding up a shoot is stealing coverage from the director. If I’m not at a mix because I’m late, I can’t contribute to it — including the note that the director may have given me at midnight one time that only I know about.

Besides, it’s damned rude.

Another very wise rule from Mr. Kammes:

Understand the processes outside of your concentration. What you work with is a direct result of what the previous department did; just as the next step in the post process relies on you doing things correctly. Someone will mess a step up – and you need to be able to track it down. [Emphasis is mine.]

That’s what collaboration is all about. Those of us who have worked in editing are usually the people who work with the end credits. As a result, we know better than most, just how many shoulders we stand on in order to do our jobs well and look great. So, it’s better to understand just what the lab printing process is, or the pulldown changes that the sound department needs to incorporate into their work. That way, when we talk to them we show that we care about what they need from us in order to do their job well.  And we can gain their respect. That respect means a lot more to them than how smart we are, when we have to call them in the middle of a tough day of shooting to ask them to re-send some paperwork, or to discuss a potential problem.

So… scoot on over to Michael’s Scott’s site to get some smart talkin’.



2 responses to “Rules For Beginning Filmmakers”

9 07 2010
Sandra M (15:52:31) :

I would add to that list, that someone looking for a job should remember that all communication with a potential contact is up for scrutiny. Even if the person you’re emailing becomes very informal, you should continue to use proper spelling, grammar, and complete sentences.

I am an Assistant Editor, and one of the best things I ever did to help me in finding and keeping my job, is read The Film Editing Room Handbook. Thank you for such a wonderful book!

1 07 2011
Michael Kammes (02:32:12) :

Ha! Google *just* alerted me to this. Before I even met you, even! Ha!

You’ve been a stranger, hope to see ya soon – ya missed a good LAFCPUG on Tuesday 😉


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