A friend of mine recently walked away from a “very good job” at a prestigious restaurant here in town. She is young and working towards her culinary degree and the job was important to her. More than important, she loved what she was learning and has a passion for the art of cooking. So why did she walk away? Her direct supervisor was an ass. It infuriated him to see her smile. The smile indicated she did not take her job seriously. He hated her smiling and attempted to drive home that work was no place to enjoy yourself. She turned and gracefully walked away (two week notice) and kept the passion for cooking in her heart.
Remember that “passionate” coach in high school, the guy that would grab your facemask and scream at you to do better? We claim to value respect and self control, but if you have a winning record, it is ok to toss that crap out the window. Win and you can motivate with fear and be a jerk to everyone around you. Hypocritical society, maybe just a bit.
Too often, the film production world becomes stained with these odd work ethics. We, like chefs, have one of the best jobs in the world. It is creative, exciting for the most part, and usually pays the bills. It also should be a lot of fun. When it is not, something is very wrong. I have filmed surgeries where lives are literally on the line. The first time I was taken back by how casual the doctors were as they plied their trade. They joked, laughed and did the task at hand. Let me be the first to admit that I can be King Ass on a shoot. Especially if I am in charge. Last summer I was raging to my 2 man crew about the importance of putting things away in their proper place. I barked, growled, and made myself quite unpleasant to make my point clear. I turned around and caught Max, who is also my son, mocking my motions, something to the effect of (hulk jameshallison casinovoice and body motions) Scott angry, Scott mad about gear… Dan who was laughing quickly turned away, Max burst out in a huge grin. My tidal wave of rage dissolved into mist and I began to laugh.
Here are a few of my positive motivation faces…
A few weeks ago I had a job with a St. Louis crew. I was the steadicam op and it was a typical big crew agency job. At some points my work was very intense and a lot of money was on the line as the clock was running and tensions ran high. We joked and laughed. I was having the time of my life and it was an awesome shoot. Here is a link to the behind the scenes video of that shoot.
The competitive nature of our business can bring out the best in us. It can also make us ego-maniacal tyrants in our little kingdoms. Consider the training of a dog. If you whip the dog into submission, the dog will learn to obey out of fear. If you raise the dog with positive rewards the dog will run to your call, eager to please, and do it in love, or whatever the dog equivalent to love is.
I believe we are not that different than dogs. I have worked with directors that whip the crew (figuratively of course). The crew responds in the same way as a beaten animal. On the flip side, a good leader can motivate a crew to achieve greatness, with everyone believing they add value to the team. These crews are a joy to be a part of. You get your ass kicked and love every minute of it.
I am working on remembering my place in the world. I make pretty pictures that sell stuff. Sometimes I sell cars, other times ideas, sometimes it”s just a little story. Yes, I consider my self an artist. I also consider myself a construction worker. I take great pride in my work. I also do a much better job when I am having fun.