Here are a few things to remember when working in this wonderful industry of ours.
1: You are not the only department on set!
Despite how important and essential you think you and your team are, you are only as important as everyone else. You may think that make up or costume are trying to delay your lights, performance or camera turning over. You may think sound department putting mat down on a walk way is just taking the piss or that it doesn't really matter which way the penguin was facing on the last take. But it actually does matter, because the Penguin looking the wrong way nearly gets James Caan killed. Having an actor have to come in to re-record the emotional "I'm dying of headfuck cancer" again because there are loud footsteps all over the take only makes actor, director and everyone else sad. Watch Tom Cruise in Cocktail, that dudes hair grows quicker and backwards into his head all over the place and it looks pony. And collar up, collar down in an edit means scene has failed because people will watch the collar and not the actor. All these individual problems are prevented by the different departments all doing their best to make the production the best it can be and anyone who moans about another department taking time to do their best does not understand how shit really works. Unless you're working with James Cameron. If he moans at you, he's probably right and ignore the above!
2: Don't be a bully or standby as someone else is one.
Most people in this industry have some form of neurosis or insecurity and the way some people deal with that is by being a massive twat to others and a bully is the worst twat of them all. Having banter on set is ace, a joke, a bit of ribbing or piss taking can be hilarity and I find myself the butt of such ribbing often, but and a big but, upsetting someone for the benefit of oneself or others is the stuff of cunts. In my world you do not berate someone in public and you should always do your best to stop someone being berated in public. Make it private and make any criticism constructive. It's usually the lowest on the call sheet or within a department that gets the shit and all that does is help turn the next generation of filmmakers into bullies or gibbering wrecks and either of those aren't great.
The best thing to do if you feel you're being bullied or picked on, however hard it is, (it is) and whatever it may lead to in terms of repercussions, is to stand your ground. You don't have to be rude, aggressive, (even though that might be called for), just respect yourself enough to tell anyone who speaks to you like you're shit, that you won't be spoken to in that way because you're not shit. It's really fucking hard to be strong, especially when new to the industry and there are many times in my career that I look back on and consider myself bullied or disrespected, whether it be by a line producer, a producer, a 1st AD or some exec. Now I've been around a while so if the same were to happen today I would happily tell someone to "get fucked" or "hire someone else" Life is just too short and I've got enough to worry about with kid and normality to take disrespectful behavior.
3: There's always someone in everyone's ear so be careful not to shoot the messenger.
What people sometimes forget on a production is that everyone has someone to answer to, right the way up to the top. There is always someone telling the person who is telling you that something has to happen a certain way.
For example, in simplified form.....
I ask the 1st AD for more time on a particular day.
1st Ad asks line producer.
Line producer ask producer.
Producers asks Execs and those paying for the production.
Execs and those paying for the production tell producer that we can't do it.
Producer tells Line producer there is no way we can do it.
Line producer tells 1st AD there is no way we can do it.
So when it gets back to me from the 1st AD, there is no point in me giving her shit because the bad news had been passed down from top to bottom. Choosing your battles is very important but equally important is who you choose to battle with.
4: Actors waiting around:
Actors, when you get a job, whether you are King of the trailers or Duke of the dining bus, you will have to wait around. This is guaranteed. There is also the possibility that you will be called in in the morning and not used until the afternoon. There is even the possibility that you won't be used that day and you will have come in for nothing. You will feel hard done by, you will moan, first to the runner, then to the 2nd AD and then maybe to your agent. Honestly FUCK OFF! There are thousands of other actors who would give blood to be waiting around where you are, not to mention, (but mentioning), people who do real jobs, who don't ever get to wait around, get free tea and coffee, get paid and somewhere to sit down. You are an employee, you are getting paid to be there at the disposal of the production. Can you imagine being in a shit job and complaining that you had to "sit in the staff room and drink tea" rather than sweep up hair or stock the fridge cabinet. Like the director, grip, runner and DOP, actors are also employees and are getting paid to be there. Be grateful.
5: Old man in position of power:
No dickhead, she doesn't want to sit on your knee!!!!
There are very few jobs where you get three meals a day, endless tea and coffee, shit loads of snacks and biscuits for free. You do on most productions, that is, gratis, no dollar, no hassle and free. Yet, the moaning you get from crew at times is awful. "My salmon is dry", "why's the pasta always penne?" "cheesecake again?" When the nation has thousands of people in need of food banks to survive and millions starving in the world, you should be shaking the hand of the caterers everyday. Go and work the tills at B&Q and you'll get a vending machine and a homemade sandwich for lunch. So don't moan, if you don't like it just don't eat it. It's really easy.
7: Entertainment is important.
Our industry can be viewed as something we can do without, a luxury perhaps. Creatives spending loads of money, actors and crew getting paid lots, going to nice places and generally swanning around not doing "real work". But enjoying a film or a programme, sitting round a tv and laughing, guessing answers, trying to work out who the killer might be is an important part of life. Being part of something that brings joy to others is valuable and this shit doesn't make itself. It takes skill, love and dedication to work in this industry and without us, there is no TV, no cinema, no content. Anyone devaluing an industry that continually brings joy to millions hasn't got a telly.