And finally the other shoe drops.
Our 3rd exclaimed to us one night “Why the hell is everyone so mean to the AD department? Doesn’t the crew know being nicer to us is far better in the long run?”
It was a cute question but I actually did pause and put some thought into it. See, the AD department is the lightening rod for hate. It’s how I’ve been trained, it’s the sets I’ve worked on. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t go out of my way to be an asshole, but you know when you sign up for this job, you have to get tough skin, because as the center for information, you will get everyone’s unfiltered thoughts, concerns, complaints and frustrations. And yet you need to smile and turn their problems into positive solutions.
And yet there are those crew members that will kill the messanger. Even before there’s a message. So, in case you as a crew or cast member don’t know, here’s the 5 benefits to being nice to the AD department.
1. We will actually listen to you. How much, is up to your attitude: Crew Member A from G&E has a rather minor issue of getting home because he drove the grip truck to set and it doesn’t have to leave location for a few more days. He let me know in the morning in between running cast, and gave me another helpful reminder after lunch. Cheerfully. At the end of a night he has a ride with one of the cute girls from set who’s more than happy to get back to his place.
Crew member B: Found me in the middle of getting actors to make up and loudly proclaimed how stupid were were to pick this location and we need to get their car reparked or they’re not going to head to set. Crew member B’s car was never attended to, they were late to set, and had to explain their reasoning to producers. Producers told them to arrive earlier and walked away.
2: We are your advocates: I know how long each actor takes in make up. I know how long your lighting set ups go, I know why you take so long getting out of your trailer. I can be the person who defends, and gives you more time, or I can not give a shit. Respect is a two way street, and often we’re in front of the producers or Director, telling them why something’s taking so long. It can be as simple as “Hey, she’s got her period, so we’re going to set a slower pace today, and I know a few ways we can pick up some inserts later.” or “Yeah I don’t know what that guy’s issue is. He’s just slow.” I’ve sat with producers and explained to them why make up takes so long on 20 detailed monsters with prosthetics. I don’t do this for the people who see fit to walk on me.
3: We cover for you: See above period issues. Also apply illnesses, family drama, better job offers, or even getting to the bank. We have lives here and the AD department understands that. It’s the difference in between asking to run to the bank at lunch and someone covering for you when you’re late, to sitting with all the crew on set, waiting for you because you didn’t inform anyone you’d be missing.
4.We recommend good crew: We love getting along with the people on set. A crew in step is a great thing. And we’re probably one of the first people hired. So Directors and producers are asking our opinions during the hiring process. I’ve always said I’ll take a difficult/ talented person over a nice/ green person. But there’s a line, and I know what crew members work and which don’t.
5. We’re in charge of your safety: I’ll never compromise on this, but man, don’t make me imagine the ways your foot could get caught in the lift gate. I’d rather be happy you got home safe, than dread seeing you in the morning.
PS: Reason 6; most of us are really really really ridiculously good looking, great conversationalist, and great date planners. We’re organized and thorough people, in all areas. Just saying. You should be nice to us.
Crew members, like Bryce Dion of “Cops,” are often abused, injured, or worse (and unable to pay for treatment).
I worked my last reality job a couple years back. Insane hours, so much abuse coming from the office, and a producer died a year later from a heart attack. No show is worth it, and it’s about time these ones unionized.
We all have issues. Depression started being one of mine because of various reasons. But being on the road or away from friends, family or internet and things will start to set in. Especially when fatigue starts to really tear you down. But I’ve compiled a list of things to help:
Skype or Facetime: You’ve got loved ones and luckily we live in an age where communication is even faster, and the internet has ways of hitting all areas. Facetime, skype, and Google hang outs are all perfect ways to keep in contact with friends and loved ones. Elect that friend who’s not on the same job, but knows what you’re going through, and just take an hour to decompress about how your 1st called everyone in an hour early and then had them sit. Or about that extra who just won’t stop believing they’re the star. Just having someone to listen to you helps. Find that person.
Writing or blogging: Keep a blog of your experiences and get it out in writing. The cheap form of therapy.
Find your thing: Everyone has a thing. Everyone on set gets known for a thing. Some people send funny pictures to the crew, some sound men have all the new bands. Hell, even I put QoTD on the callsheet, or funny t-shirt day as dictated by the grips. Find your thing and bond with the team you’re stuck with for the next however many days.
Food: Lunches, dinners, breakfasts. Whatever you do, make time to just sit down with people and talk. Doesn’t have to be talking about work, or what’s up next. Just enjoying food with people is the biggest detox. Just please, make sure to chew your food. I know everyone has work to get back to. It’ll still be there. Enjoy your time. If you live in a hotel, try to gather up friends or crew for relax dinners.
Exercise! Being completely full of starches and junk food saps your energy. Sitting all day or standing in the sun isn’t movement and exercise! If there’s a gym at the hotel, or a cheap place to join, or hell, even a highschool running track. Get out and move!
6. And of course, sleep: Restful, UN-interupted rest. Good luck with that.
"My best day had to be the day after I wrapped Guardians of the Galaxy. I was very homesick and coming home to my wife, and my home, and to my son, who was at the time 13 months old. My wife told me there’s a chance he won’t recognize you—but that’s okay that happens all the time. He doesn’t know, he might be a little shy…"
This. This, this, a thousand times this. I cant wait to see my baby girl. It’s been a very long 5 months.
Film sets are notoriously wasteful places. Big movies can generate 225 tons of scrap metal, nearly 50 tons of construction and set debris, and 72 tons of food waste.
It’s Amazing the amount of waste in films and TV shows. The bottled water alone should be enough to convince you to to carry your own. When I can get away with it, I make letter sized callsheets. Not hard to do and still gets the point across. Also a fan of E -Sides. What do you do to help reduce waste?
One of the finest moments in cinematic history.
That 1st day of being an AD on an indie film set…
Anonymous said: I'm going to be setting BG with an extremely impatient short-tempered 3rd AD in about 3 weeks. It's a party scene with about 160 people. Any insight and advice on workflow and how to set them quickly and efficiently would be super appreciated. :)
HA! For a minute it almost sounded like you were afraid of the 3rd AD. Now if that is the case, for real? They’re the 3rd AD. Tell them to finish their PRs on time and then maybe you’ll listen to them. Except for my 3rd. My 3rd is super scary and will generally tear your arm off only to beat you to death with it. For real, just avoid making her angry.
But you have a 3rd and their job is to place background and your job is set pa? Extras wrangler? Whatever the case may be, you’re stuck with this ill tempered douchebag.
First thing I like to do is check in with the 2nd AD and see how they’re being grouped. All 160 aren’t coming at once, or if they are, and they all place first, well fuck.
First thing, see how many groups have names or are broken down into sections. For example I did a large frat movie with 500 bg, and multiple levels of a party. Some girls were marked “Pretty girls.” Some were “Woo girls.” some were “Beer pong guys.” and that made it easier to break it down of who goes where during what scene. After that, I made a map of where we we’re working, and watch blocking to see where I can place each group. 160 bg is 2 groups of 80, 4 groups of 40, 10 groups of 16, or 16 groups of 10. I bunch them up with an even number (If the scene calls for it.) and grab post it notes, and write A on them. Now that one group of 10 is group A, and I know I have Group A- P that I can place, re-use and run though. The rooms is big enough for 60 people. Awesome. I have 60 people to place, use as crosses or filter through because the scene calls for progression of time, so I can filter through and stagger BG to make things easier on departments. Crowd scenes up last? Excellent. Everyone goes in and listens to the first. Problem solved. The thing about placing BG is, the first time will be terrible. They’ll spike the camera, stumble, start loudly talking, or walk straight at the actor and expect them to move. Tried to gather everyone and give the “Do not look at camera, please go back to one, listen for action and cut, and no talking!” speech so you can head off some things.
I always introduce myself to the director, or make it known I’m the one placing BG, or in constant communication with the 1st AD who’s at monitor. I’ve had directors move people out of the way of the monitor so I can get background set correctly. Always watch the monitor when you can because afterwards, you can run in, fix an action and then go again and see things go off correctly.
If you need to move them in and out because someone’s being impatient, well, take your lumps, because herding people takes time. Everyone knows it. It doesn’t magically happen, and being the asshole yelling for it to happen fast just makes you look like an asshole.
Hope this helps. Val and my 3rd are masters at setting background and maybe they’ll chime in about it as well. Every time I have Val do it, everyone on screen looks like they have a story in their head about what they’re doing. And it looks amazing.
kingserpounce said: I'm a 1st wrapping production on a feature and I'd like to get my 2nd AD a nice thank you gift. Any suggestions?
I got my last 2nd and 2nd 2nd a goldfold. It’s up to you but they are very very lovely. http://goldfold.com/ Expensive. but nice reward for all the hard work. Otherwise a headset, iTunes card with a list of helpful apps if they have an iPhone. Or a free “You Fucked up and I won’t yell at you for it.” card. Because not screaming is a gift that keeps on giving.