Anything Goes : How to Boost Morale & Fun for your Film Crew & Keep Momentum Going even during Unexpected Downtimes. by Hayward Crawford

Hayward Crawford

How to Boost Morale & Fun for your Film Crew & Keep Momentum Going even during Unexpected Downtimes.

Its kind of a multiple question in one but Just wondering what everyone's thoughts were and how they approached keeping the energy level consistent throughout those long 12 to 14 hour days. What are some of your simple tips and tricks or all out strategies how to keep the productivity & momentum of crew morale high, fun & engaged even when unexpected downtime occurs?

Vidas Pliodzinskas

Panera bread bagels

Larry Kostroff

It starts with your relationship to the crew. If it has been built on respect and trust--whenever you turn down a request for budgetary or logistic reasons, they believe your reasoning. If you exhibit a caring for their welfare--there's nothing better than bringing in a pizza, a bowl of chili, or ice cream on the 12th hour of a 14 hour day-- the crew's energy level and committment will be mantained. Finally, it you mean an interruption of filming when you say "unexpected downtime" then it's important to preserve the bonding that has occurred in the production family. This can best be accomplished keeping the communication channels open. Perhaps a crew get together will prevent the sense of isolation each crew member feels when the lights go out.

Felicia Mariah D'Ascanio

Larry, that's a lot of great advice! Keeping your own energy high and finding things to do in the "down" moments, even if it's cleaning up or rehearsing a scene is helpful. Food is great when it's break time! Definitely a booster, but it's always best to eat right before you're about to start working again. Eating and then a lot a downtime following may not work in your favor, as people may get sleepy. :)

Hayward Crawford

great advice Larry & Felicia. Nice Panera joke there too Vidas, my favorite are the Asiago cheese ones lol

Richard "RB" Botto

Love the post, Larry. Agree wholeheartedly.

Chad Catuara

Keeping your crew fed and treated with proper respect and human dignity goes a long way and crew will do whatever you need. Too many start off as on opposing sides and start wanting concessions ( a favor from people they don't even have a working relationshiosp with.) Crew know line producer's get a cut of the expenses they save. And, too many producers do the penny chasing dollar routine. One perfect example, a major feature didn't want to pop for 3k or 5k life like dummy, ended up costing 1/4 mil. to transport the entire set to NY to stay on schedule. Same show the upm spent like 30 man hours to save a $500 rental on a couple of hanging 10k. I think there may be some unwritten production rule to under estimate their day roughly 3 hours to keep the suits in the dark on actual expected overtime. Unpreparedness sets off a runaway train of expenses, which the crew will sit back and watch barrel along fattening their paychecks. Production management should know the cheapest rental piece typically won't get you the proper equipment to do the job costing untold dollars of wasted production time. Oh, and you need to pace yourself to handle the hours. Meal breaks can actually be quite counter productive to the film making process on different levels. The last man through can equal a long break, after which gearing back up feels like a druggery. A meal break at degisnated times can kill an actors mood, momentum, pacing rythm; for scheduling reasons like off hours access to buildings or loadin/out plans. For that matter. the movant of the entire production machinary, as a unit, will be dirsupted, but there are grace periods and penalties for going over them. The 2nd meal is one of those rock and hard place, but mandatory, issues: if you don't they look for it, when you do crew seems to not be espescially eager for it and there's some liability about giving leftovers to the homeless.

Shaun O'Banion

I agree with Larry and would add that, if you're shooting an indie, you'd be best served by having a very strong AD running the set and pushing to keep the clock to 12 hours as often as possible so as not to burn-out the crew. I also think Felicia has her head in the right place, but Larry's advice was spot-on. The BTL crew is working all day... and bringing in a snack or specialty item (coffee truck, ice cream truck, food truck, set masseuse) goes a long way. The crew needn't be busy immediately after eating - trust me, after 21 years in film, you'll note that EVERY crew gets the post-lunch-slow-down despite the fact that, generally, you're either completing an unfinished setup from before the break, or just getting into a new setup or scene. So, yeah. Keep the hours to a minimum (aka don't abuse your cast/crew), and feed 'em well.

Larry Kostroff

Thanks for adding your obvious knowledge of production to my post. Not many have had the extensive experience that we have. Bravo!

Lina Jones

That's important good post!

JD Hartman

Decent food and healthy snack options. Not just pizza pizza pizza. Ample beverages and I don't mean trying to keep everyone juiced up on 5 hour energy or Redbull. Treat it like a union shoot, crew eats first. No cast eats until all crew have been through the line.

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