Temperament

Making a film tends to be an all-consuming operation, at least during the shooting. For many people, nothing else exists during that period except the film itself and the other members of the crew. Although this is particularly true for features, it also describes the conditions on many documentaries. During filming, whether for one week or seven, whether in New York or New Guinea, your crew tends to become your family. Therefore, when you choose your crew, it is worthwhile looking at their temperament as well as their skill. I always hope that the filming will be interesting and fun, and I want people who share that attitude to join me on the crew.

Often the filming is done under tremendous pressure, in frightful conditions, and far away from home. Those elements can bring out the best in some people, but they can bring out the worst in others. So choose people accordingly. I am generally wary of morose, silent types, however good their professional skills. On location, I want someone with me who is cheerful and bright and has at least an elementary sense of humor. I don't necessarily need someone who is going to be my bosom friend for life, but I do prefer people with whom I can comfortably relax and have a drink at the end of a difficult day.

Though I think informality is necessary among small crews, it is also extremely important that there be a clear working structure, that everybody knows what they have to do and when, and that the ultimate decisions are made by you, the director. You are the leader, and this is something that should never be forgotten. As leader and director, you have to exercise patience, sanity, and equanimity as you make sure that your team is pulling together as a group.

One thing that is always interesting to see is how the separate individuals gradually bond into a cohesive team. That usually happens on the third or the fourth day of shooting, or after some mishap has been solved and can be laughed at. When that bond comes, the film stops being just work and becomes a real pleasure.

Sometimes, however, even with the best-selected crews, tension suddenly arises. And it can happen for all sorts of silly reasons, such as one member of the crew feeling that a second isn't pulling his or her weight. Once you become aware of that tension, it needs to be settled immediately, before it festers. Usually a private talk will do the trick; if not, try to get the matter out into the open, discussed, and assigned to the past.

Film Making

Film Making

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