Some more thoughts on production

I spent part of my September on a photo shoot for a german car manufacturer.

I had the privilege to work with a really good photographer and crew. I hired a couple of new P.A’s and I should have sent them this notes in advance. Since I did not, I send them now.

– don’t fuck it up on your last day.

– don’t sit.

– don’t give ideas unless stated otherwise.

– double check but do not ask things twice.

– write things down. and if things are just said on voice, write them down and send them by email.

– do not expect nobody to understand that is hard to get internet on location.

– truck drivers will always come up with difficult requests. be ready.

– have always sweets on set.

– they can maybe drink alcohol. you cannot.

– give the people you are buying things to the sense of emergency and importance that your boss will apply to you.

– eat faster than your clients. sit the last one, stand up the first. the average lunch duration should be 12 minutes.

– the only way to control a situation is to send more frequent emails than your client/boss.

– when you need to be a booss, be a bit of a pain. everybody remembers everything until they forget it.

– save yourself the hangovers. they are hard to work with.

– always work considering you will not get paid before 60 days.

– if you are on set; 1) work, 2) pretend or 3) hide.

– your voice should be always lower than the one on top of the pyramid (photographer or director)

– your chat should always be kept under a security distance from the maximum concentration area (camera).

– people talk a lot on set. increase quality by talking less. and yes watsapping counts as chatting.

– use the walkie talkie as it would cost one euro each time you press the button.

– papers are meant to be read, carefully.

– if you think your job is to forward emails to other people , you are doing it wrong.

– the only one who can forward an email without reading and understanding it is the executive producer.

– if your assistants fails, you are the one responsible.

– pressure handling is the only valuable scale to evaluate how good a film/tv professional is. all the rest is wind.

– you need to know what you are not good at. hire people who are better than you doing that.

–  if you are not an executive don’t Instagram, Facebook or Tweet any graphic material from any job you are doing.

– lots of this rules don’t apply to executive producers. they can decide the way then want to lose a client. you don’t.

– you will always think a production designer is doing few and getting really well paid. this might be a good sign of him being good.

– treat a bit bad the camera department and they will get back to you strong and all union and rights for the working class and overtime warriors. treat them like pure shit and they will accept your conditions.

– don’t try to make a gaffer understand you. he is a knight of the light.

– a gaffer will always take one spark more than the ones necessary. you should do the same with PA’s.

– try to get always at least a girl, a big guy, a guy who understand tools, and a guy who understand computers in your production/location/ad team.

– AD’s are overrated.  AD’s are overconfident and they need that so they can do their job. AD’s want to be  your alpha in the pack. Let them be.

– sound recordists smoke and suffer often. Take care of them well.

– ask your DIT to deliver you a copy of what is in each disk so you never have a the most horrible discussion; the one on missing files.

– you will know a bad camera crew because they will hire a hot and lousy female VTR.

– make up people get often bored. Their fee compensate their deep and constant boredom.

– wardrobe people need to be rock stars.

Guys , welcome to this business

I did not want a production kit

Mentors kept on telling me I should get a case and fill it with anything I may need to run successfully a project; no matter where or with whom I would be producing a photo/film, I should be independent.
I fought hard against this idea since I always considered that some of the thigns where on the production company’s list of responsibilities, not in mine. I quite fighting since experience showed me that I am the one who finally looks like an idiot.

Power- Double your adaptors, bring cables for iPhones 4 and 5, any android device and even Nokia. For the office, for the car, anywhere. Be sure that an important figure will come to set with an old , weird mobile device.

Print /Scan- I want to be paper-free. I really want. But apparently people around me resists. Plus you don’t want to lose any minute with the drivers of a printer if you are already tight on time.So let’s buy at least light devices. I love the scan. I hate any printer.

Receipts- Nothing annoys me more than old paper receipts. I am looking forward for an easy receipts generator – not just for money- . Every time I borrow/lend a runners a memory stick or a pencil it gets lost.

Ipad- I have no Ipad for personal life. But keeping an Ipad really empty of things only for the storyboard or the layouts an locations seems to me a good idea.

Tablet- For contracts. Contract mean tones of paper. Wet paper. Staples. Paper that gets lost. Some people are already working on the matter. Keeping all contracts digitals and just using a Wacom to sign and the tablet camera to snapshot. Nice and clean.

Suunto- Yes. Lots of people still prefer the old good sunto instead of sun keeper or any other device. Well, in our business you damn need to know where will be the sun. So just get one.

Gadgets- For advertising with cars bring toy cars to simulate actions. For sports bring crash pads and with kids bring a backup. And with americans crews book the night before in the hotel so they can sleep when they arrive on the early flight. All that you can’t fit in the case but good to fit in your brain.

Dropbox- Keep the archive somewhere where your team have easy access to it. Limit permissions for changing documents but let it read to a wide group of people-

Calendar – Sync the Calendars of your crew. And use the reminders.

Contacts – I hate when somebody tells

Suppliers- On the first day ask your runner where you can find nearby the office and the hotel where the clients are: a pharmacy, an ink supplier, a good japanese restaurant and a 24h paramedic.

Besides that the obvious: paper, staples, pencils, pens, batteries of any imaginable kind, a bunch of other things that individual experience teach us and lots of patience.