Windmills & Movie Making – what you need to know

windmills

I just love windmills. I enjoy finding them when traveling. I wish I lived nearer to them. I enjoy seeing the movement in the sky line. It amazes me to see them moving in harmony, very often synchronized by the wind. I find a beauty in it. I find majesty in a field of windmills.

The reason I do, I believe, is because of what the windmills represent to me.

They are tall, they stand alone, they work separately, yet they work together for a greater good. They work independently but together they harness the wind power to be used by all. They serve a larger purpose.

I use this as an analogy for filmmaking. This is how I understand people working in film and television.

There are different jobs, different tasks that need to be done by individuals in different departments. Each is separate, frequently working alone, and yet together. These individuals are a team working together for the greater good of the project. They are both independent and interdependent at the same time.

In the case of the windmills no one single windmill is more important than the other. They are all equal. They all do their job and the larger interest is served.

In movie making there is a pecking order, there is a chain of command and there are different job descriptions. While I think all are necessary hence all are equal, my thinking may not be commonly accepted that way. Some people consider some positions more important than others.

Therefore, it is important to know and appreciate this chain of command or this top down order and understand where and how you fit in and contribute to it.

Even though some think one job description is more important than another I think all the job positions are necessary. They exist because they evolved driven by whatever was needed at a moment in time. Most, if not all innovation in filmmaking, art, science and medicine, in fact in any endeavor, is driven by the need to do something easier, faster, or differently. At one time the camera was static, on sticks, and because people wanted to tell stories better cameras became lighter and movable. Dollies and jibs, cranes and steadicams evolved to fill this need.

So I believe every position on a film crew is necessary because someone needs to do it. While there are different pay grades, and import placed on different job descriptions ultimately all are important. Some are deemed jobs for the talented, successful few, while others are ‘run out and find someone who will do this job’. Still, each position is necessary and hence worthy of respect.

Whatever, position on a film crew one finds oneself, one can and should be proud to be part of a collaborative team. If you weren’t doing the job someone else would be. You are needed to make the entire effort work. It may not always seem that way and you may not always be respected or treated as you should be but every piece and every part and every player on the team is necessary.

The whole is more than the sum of its parts. Together each person works in service of the project, the greater good. Each independent player helps this project come together in the same way each piece of a jigsaw puzzle in necessary for the puzzle to be complete.

This is how film work is collaborative. We need each other to bring the film to life. Countless numbers of people  are needed through each of the phases  of movie making from idea to consumer. Everyone along the way IS necessary but no one is indispensable. Everyone can be replaced. That is why working together as a team is critical.

To succeed in this business I believe one must understand and appreciate what everyone is attempting to do when they make a movie. One must understand the different responsibilities that come with each position and understand the etiquette on a production. I will discuss more about this in future blogs.

Different positions carry different concerns. You should: Know your place. Don’t bug people. Be respectful and helpful. Arrive early and stay late (but don’t fudge your union time cards or stay late to gain more pay THEY WILL notice that). Be willing to be helpful OFF the clock.

When you positively contribute to the people on the team and the overall project you become a valuable resource people can rely on.

You make yourself appreciated by remaining positive, by not grumbling. The saying ‘ loose lips sinks ships’ is apt because nothing hurts morale more than complaining and you may sink yourself if you get caught spreading a negative virus. If other people do it. let them, just don’t participate.

Make yourself nearly indispensable by working hard and going the extra mile. Work beyond your pay. You will be recognized by your efforts and when you go out of your way to be helpful, without being a nuisance, employers take note. Not everyone hired will do more than what is required so when you do you stick out head and shoulders above the rest.

You serve your own best interests when you become known as a friendly team player that people can count on. When you help others you are helping yourself.

You may not like someone on the team but you must respect their position, their job title and do your work without letting anything interfere. Obviously, if you are in an abusive job relationship that is something else as I am discussing the day to day working environment. Personalities clash at times and yet you are best served to do whatever you can to rise above it. Keep the larger project in mind. Be respectful of all and all will take notice, especially the people who can hire you back.

Many people think only of themselves, they only look out for number one. You do have to consider your own needs  I understand. The person who moves ahead in their career faster is one who can balance their needs while looking out for others.

Employers look at those whose concern is the project, who are team players and help all be successful in making the project come together. While union rules may preclude you from doing someone else’s tasks for them your spirit and attitude can go a long way in gaining you the attention of those who hire. Willingness to help, even when you can’t is appreciated. Be willing, and be helpful when able. Go the extra mile and give more service than asked for AND you will do more than most other hires. You will separate yourself from them and you will positively stand apart.

Remember, filmmaking is a collaborative effort that requires the management of large numbers of people and the allocation of resources. If you don’t come off as too overly eager and in the way, but as a dedicated, hardworking, positive person you will do well. When you are willing to do anything to help the team succeed you become recognized as valuable team player who is difficult to replace. Because so few work so well it is tough to find someone like you. You want to hard replace.

You make the best headway in this business by becoming known as a reliable, dedicated, hard working cheerful, friendly co-worker who values others and cares deeply about the success of the project and the overall team.

People in it only for oneself, tend to lose out.  People who contribute tend to make headway beyond the rest.

While it is true there can be horrible employers and job situations and some top players may not be nice at all you should remain positive.

Remember, after all you are living the dream you are making a movie.

Some players are power mongers who throw their weight around because they really don’t know how to lead well and most likely are afraid someone may find out. Some may mistreat people and no matter what you do you could be used, abused or ignored because that is just how they are.

There are exceptions to every rule still you should seek to rise above the rest and adhere to a higher standard. Try instead to understand, sympathize, emphasize, forgive OR go where your talents may better serve and be appreciated.

When you enjoy what you are doing and help others to enjoy along with you ultimately you will be recognized by those who count. You will be invited back to work again and again when you become the person they want to be around. When you are recognized as a great person first coupled with being a great worker, known to deliver the goods, who fits in and contributes to the team, you become sought after. You become highly desirable. THIS is what you want to occur. This is how you get ahead.

Look beyond the job and look to your future in film. DO you fit in well with others? Can you work in harmony, while working independently, for the greater good? Can you help all to benefit? Do people enjoy your company? Are you a team player? Are you friendly? Do you like people? Are you willing to go the extra mile to deliver exceptional service, even if not asked? If you can honestly answer yes you will do well.

Keep putting yourself out there. Build your resume. As you do, your positive, helpful nature and your team spirit will become known. Reputations precede us and they follow us. Make sure your reputation serves to get you on the project.

Make sure your reputation is stellar and you will go very far in this business. One of the reasons you will go far beyond others is because when you are this kind of person, this type of worker, when you do these things, you are unlike all the others. You are no dime a dozen worker. You are a cut above. You are rare and you are valuable.” Rex Sikes

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