The business – Why you got to be that way?

I’ve moved my blog to Reelgrok, so this post originally appeared on “”

I’m just convinced that I’m on the low end of the business. I mean the business is huge. Ranging from someone shooting M.O.S. – Translated that is Man on Street for those of us who came up through film, and not video – to the Ultra High budget shoots. Now, I’ve put in the time, and spent the years, and the effort, and yet, why is it that I am on the low end. Lack of talent, lack of vision perhaps? No it is a cautionary tale, that has taken years to unravel.

I was young once, and burned myself through and through. Productions that had no budget, I brought everything, and worked hard. So hard, I would lose ten pounds in a day. I hear tell Bruce Springsteen loses ten pounds during a concert, well he doesn’t stop to eat two meals. So with all that, it becomes the norm to accept less from production, which is silly. You don’t think it is a compromise, because you end up working harder, but that is where the compromise is. Now not every shoot needs a full crew, a 5 ton grip truck, etc. etc. but it takes a commitment to not compromise – to turn compromise into collaboration.

Case in point, last year I came on board a short film, very late, the other D.P. had left for – well I don’t know – anyway We shoot on Saturday, and our production meeting is Tuesday, looking at the locations I had enough. The shoot takes me away from my wife and family, and although the kids – who are wonderful and amazing – are a bundle of joy, man oh man are they work. It isn’t right to abandon my wife with them, and if I have to give up time away from my family, I really have to enjoy my work. Well, I look the director, who is self financing the shoot, and say – if we are shooting here, that room needs to be painted. There is no way with the limited crew and gear we have that we can make that room work. I can’t paint it, you need an art director, which he had not realized he needed to hire.

Now it is Wednesday, and time for the next production meeting. There is an Art Director – Not the one I recommended, but a young and hungry art director, who got it. Need I mention the images were good – I’m never really satisfied with my work – but it made all the difference. SO instead of hating the project, I ended up enjoying it, and not killing myself, and in the end it was better.

The director in this project was green, but the producer he hired and I, guided him through. I give much credit to the producer – Claudine – for her part, I think she’d be great to work with again. The Director and I are already planning our next collaboration – he’s moving on from shorts to feature length films and I agree with him.

Still I’ve got to wonder why it is that this seems to be such a secret to producers who really ought to KNOW better. They’ve produced decent shoots, but take on smaller projects and just give up and accept getting less than what is necessary. Yeah sure it happens sometimes, budget issues, location, etc. You can tell, and see it on the screen. Accepting what is acceptable because you can see it on a monitor. Amazing, but the images, the end product fall short. Why, because it’s the cost. It’s get it done for the least possible, for what it can get “done” for not spend what has to be spent – money or effort. There is a company that I don’t want to work for anymore, because it has become to frustrating and it affects my working relationship with the director. Which of course will bring me back to the respect for the medium. There is only so much intention I can bring to a project. If a PA is lacking in intention, that hurts, but it is far easier to overcome than if the Producer is lacking. With no crew, and no time, equipment is useless. When the higher ups lose the respect for the project because it is small, or their is no budget, or the distribution is for the web, then the entire project suffers.

Now I don’t want you to think that I’m only about image – so next blog post – Content versus Style-ismo.

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4 Responses to The business – Why you got to be that way?

  1. Hank Isaac April 23, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    Oh, does this feel familiar! I’m a writer/director who has given up everything in the quest for success. And I mean EVERYTHING. So it pains me to constantly be placed into a situation where I have to “train” producers – I’m close to disassociating myself with number five. I want to stay on the creative side. Does it really take one person (the producer) six days to pick up a phone and inquire of a city’s film office whether a permit is required for a particular shoot? Six days. If I have to micro-manage HIS job, it’d be easier and quicker to do it myself. Sorry for the rant. Keep blogging. /h

    • sgladstone April 24, 2011 at 4:24 am #

      Hey, thanks for reading, and I know what you mean. Today I’m shooting, and I have to train the crew, which is fine, but why do I have to retrain them every day? Why isn’t the A.D. calling roll sound? Roll camera? I started out, I asked people what my job entailed, I was trained. Now people are just on the shoot filling a position, and they don’t know what they are supposed to do, and don’t seem to care. Arrrrggghhhhh. Hey A.D., you’re the Time cop. Keep reading, I’ll keep writing, and tell your friends.

  2. Matthew C. Kriner April 26, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    Offshore jobs are more of a lifestyle. They are not everybody, since they involve long and tiring hours at the oil rigs away from your friends and family and often working under tough weather conditions.

  3. farming pictures April 28, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    Thank you ever so for you blog post.Thanks Again. Cool.

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