Tips to hiring the best crew members for your film

HIRING A CREW
FILMMAKING NOTES

Job Hiring Your Production Crew – When hiring your CREW, first and foremost what you’re looking for is other leaders. People who will take their position and own it – make themselves the LEADER of that job. This is a collaborative medium. Everyone can pour themselves into the film, no matter which position they have, and just plain make the film better.

If everyone on your set works that much harder, and believes in the project with their inner soul, then you have the makings of a great film. In previous films I’ve learned what not when hiring a crew.

As the Producer and/or Director, you are the LEADER of the film. You have to make tough decisions. Hiring Your Crew is the first, and sometimes the toughest, decision you have to make.

I’ve learned two major hiring mistakes in the past:

1) DO NOT hire someone who thinks they are doing you a favor.

If you’re a first-time filmmaker or you are just beginning, you may tend to want to hire a DP, for example, with loads of experience. That is a smart decision, no question, but the danger is that they might think they are just helping you out by coming on board. What happens when they are not emotionally linked to the project? They are there to help out, not to become a part of the overall team.

If you hire someone with a great resume of prior experience, no matter if they are an actor, editor, sound designer, etc., make sure there is an equal partnership in your relationship, and that you are both working with each other because of this great project you have, and for no other reason.

Hiring someone who’s doing you a favor WILL ALWAYS end badly. Every relationship you start has to begin on equal footing.

Same goes for the other way around. DO NOT hire someone that YOU want to do a favor for. It sounds like a nice thing to do, hiring a family member, friend of the girlfriend, etc…BUT nine times out of
10 it never ends well. And these are the people you have a hard time firing, too.

2) DO NOT hire your friend because they are your friend

The film is the ego of the project. Everything must be done for the sake of making the best film possible. And that includes hire the best person for each job.

We all tend to want to hire people that make us the most comfortable, right away. The people we already know, and don’t have to go through the “getting to know you” stage of the relationship. But are they the best person for the job? Is there someone better you can find with the means you have?

This is your film. Your mission is to make the best film, and sometimes making the hard decisions about whom you bring on will give you the best film.

When HIRING YOUR CREW, they have to pass the TEST. A good measure is if they can answer these THREE QUESTIONS with a PERFECT SCORE:

1) Do they have INTEGRITY?

-Do they tell the truth, keep their word, take responsibility for past actions, admit mistakes, and fix them?
-You can rely on their reputation in the field and their reference checks (always ask for references, even for freebie films). Reference checks of course aren’t infallible. So ask yourself what YOUR INNER GUT says. When you’re shooting a film, you’re going to have to rely on your instincts a lot, so when hiring your crew you’ll get some good practice.
-Even if their resumes, reputation and reference checks are great, if your instinct feels something is off, then trust your instinct.

2) Do they have INTELLIGENCE FOR THEIR CRAFT?

-They understand the practical means of their position, while also being creatively unique. And they understand how to be a leader, too, and bring other smart people to the project for you.

-Take a look at their reels and see if there’s something there that will make you KNOW that they can do your project.
-They understand that intelligence for their craft also means showing up on time, showing up prepared and ready for a long-but-insightful-and-meaningful day. And they treat everyone else on the crew with respect for their jobs, and offer kindness and support.

3) Are they MATURE?

-You can be mature or immature at any age.
-You can see that a person has grown up when they can withstand the heat, handle stress and setbacks, and enjoy success with humility. Bottom line: They respect the emotions of others.

WHEN HIRING YOUR CREW, THEY MUST SCORE PERFECT ON THESE QUESTIONS

Overall, to build an effective team, as a leader you know that, in order to meet and exceed your goals, you need help from the best. What I try to do is always hire people that are smarter than me.

And this is never about MONEY. Sometimes you have no money, sometimes you have some, sometimes you have a lot. Of course you can’t hire Tom Cruise to act in your film if you don’t have any money, but there is always someone out there, no matter what your budget is, who can do a great job.

The less money you have, the more you have to search, but there is always a great hire out there. NEVER SETTLE!!

Now that you’ve hired the best crew, it’s your job to lead them to victory.

* * * * *

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By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival www.wildsound.ca

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