R-e-s-p-e-c-t on set can be a very elusive beast.
Its a fickle thing. A highly prized commodity.
In my experience, the people who truly deserve it rarely get it and the ones who do get it exude an ego that crushes everyone around them. I know, I know.. its not true across the board. Whats ironic to me is that this is an industry where people are worked to the bone: long hours and difficult conditions (weather, night shoots, time and budget constraints, etc.) in the pursuit of truth and beauty and meaning (art-making) and there seems to be very little acknowledgment of that fact.
I love making films but I don’t love being yelled at by someone who doesn’t even know what my job is. I love directing, but I don’t love when an actor or crew member bails on me at the last minute with no regard for how that will affect the entire production and all the crew involved. I love helping out on sets, helping people achieve their dreams, but not when they don’t think to provide people with food and water and bathrooms! We may be making movies, creating worlds of fantasy and romanticism, but how about a little professionalism?
My rules of respect on set:
1. Thank everyone for everything. Common courtesy goes a long way.
2. Be on time. Don’t be late. Be early.
3. Call sheets need to go out BEFORE BEDTIME! If you’re calling people to set at 7:00am, you can’t seriously expect them to wait up till midnight to see the call sheet!
4. Feed people – and not with the last 50.00 in the budget. People need real nutrition to work 16 hour days and stay positive and energetic.
5. Ask questions. Rather than telling someone how to do their job or assuming they know something.
6. Be aware of things. i.e. Actor in a hot costume? Make sure there is someone on hand with water for them, take breaks so they can rest. Sex scene? Don’t invite your girlfriend to set that day. Close the set.
7. Let people complain. I honestly believe that human beings need to be able to vent their frustrations. The PA handbook tells you not to complain or you may not be called back to work. I think this is cruel and inhumane. Obviously don’t badmouth someone directly in front of others but complaining that its hot and you’ve been on parking lot duty for 10 hours and you didn’t get called for lunch and no one cares… that is ok. That is necessary to maintain sanity.
Respecting everyone for what they bring to the project is the first step, in my opinion, to making a good film. Great script, great actors, talented crew.. wont mean a thing if everyone is bitchy and mean to everyone else. They’ll be distracted and thinking about how they’ll never work with ‘so and so’ again instead of putting their heart and soul and energy into the WORK. Problem is, there can really be one rotten apple that spoils the whole thing. If you are in charge and you notice this – get rid of that person. The crew will thank you for it!