Producer’s Corner: Communication

Recognize this conversation?

JOHN MCLATER walks down the street all happy as a camper with toilet paper when he’s stopped by MONICA SILENCE

Monica:  Hey John!  Great to see you!!!
John:  What’s up Monnie?!
Monica:  Oh not much.  I’ve been thinking about working on that short film by Jeff Bingeta.
John:  You mean the one that starts in two weeks?
Monica:  Yeah that one.
John:  Well, you sure about that?  I mean, we just had a production meeting two nights ago.
Monica:  Wait?  They contacted me about being Script Supervisor.  They can’t do that.
John:  When did you get the email?
Monica:  Two weeks ago.  I’ve been so busy……

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DISCLAIMER:  Not for sissy-pants.  You have been warned.  By the way, when I write blogs, they also teach me a lot of things.  So when it seems I’m pointing fingers at people, I am a firm believer in looking in a mirror.   So my blogs also teach me things to better myself as a human being.

I have actually heard very similar moments and I experience trying to herd people into emailing back a response….and the sad thing is, it doesn’t matter if it’s a paid or pro bono gig.  In any industry this is not acceptable but in the entertainment industry that is contracted and expected to be fast with responses – taking your time to respond is a very bad habit to have.  I will admit that I’m not alone when I say my local area is bad about returning emails.  I can get a quicker response from Scotland, Washington DC, India, New Orleans and Hollywood than I can from some Seattle peeps.

EMAILS
What is it with people not responding to emails?
Is it:
a) I’m so busy that I just don’t have time to check emails.
Answer)  Get out of the industry so others can get gigs.
b) I’m tech dumb.
Answer) Take classes – anyone under the age of 70 should know how to use a PC by now.  I mean, you do realize those baby-boomer people were working on videos games right?
c) I’m just a damned hipster and I figure the world owes me everything – waiting for me too.  It’s just me, myself and my ear plugs.
Answer) This industry waits for no one. Now go put a chain through your ear plug and lock yourself behind a Greyhound bus headed for Portland.

What’s a proper way of communicating through emails?
1. First of all, don’t take more than 24 hours to respond.   Sure, stuff happens and an email slips through the cracks but over-all – do not take more than 24 hours to respond.  You lose gigs, clients, etc for what business you are working in.
2. If you are within the entertainment industry or sales, you better be checking your emails every hour or immediately when one comes in.   You will do yourself a favor by being Johnny/Suzy Jackrabbit with your email responses.
3. Don’t write one liner responses.  Nobody knows what the hell you’re talking about because they don’t read minds.
4. Don’t respond to an audition with your website link. Are you kidding me?  Producers want to hear why you’re interested – no, you don’t need to do a novel.  Just write a paragraph thanking the shit out of them for the opportunity and why you are perfect for this role.  A paragraph is up to five sentences.
5. If you are contacted from a Producer and you don’t respond, it probably will be the last time you hear from that Producer ever again.
6. Email or call if you’re going to flake out on an audition. If you don’t contact, it may be the last time you hear from that Producer ever again.
7. Don’t use text slang:  WTF yo!  I rly wnt da rlz u has on ad.  I don’t think I need to talk about this any further, yo.  Go watch this video for poor communication and being clear on what you’re saying.

It’s funny but …see what I mean?

READ EVERYTHING
So there you are – writing out things and organizing it so that even an ADHD reader can quickly grasp what you just laid out for instructions.  Then along comes some dip shit that waits a week and asks you the same gorram thing you posted in the email.  Don’t be a dip shit – read all of the instructions.  ALL OF IT!  No really – I mean it.  People who don’t read emails are the ones who whine that they got into a contract with deferred payment and they don’t even know what it means.  READ PEOPLE READ!  You’re breaking the hearts of books all over the world.   I mean….who’s on first?

PHONE CALLS
Phone calls are from that mobile devise you have attached (literally) to your hot little hand.  It’s what we did before text messaging came out.  I’m pretty damned sure that 98% of you remember a land line phone.  A quick phone call is faster than trying to text and fix the friggin’ auto correct.  Respect the fact that not everyone is on the same plan so keep it short and to the point – or get voxer on your phone and do voice texting.

TEXTING
For the love of all humanity – do not ever text business.  It’s fine to say – “John, I’m stuck in traffic” but to text out something like, “John,  the contravariant and the covariant vectors are related to each other through the metric tensor of the four dimensional manifold, commonly known as the Minkowski space. Since the contravariant and the covariant vectors transform in an inverse manner, such a product is easily seen to be invariant under Lorentz transformations. This is the generalization of the scalar product of the three dimensional Euclidean space to the four dimensional Minkowski space and is invariant under Lorentz transformations which are the analogs of rotations in Minkowski space.”
See how business looks in a text message? Eh?  Eh?  Don’t ever do it again.

FLAKING OUT
If you back out of an audition or a gig without contacting anyone TWENTY-FOUR HOURS BEFORE, more than likely you’re never going to hear from that Producer(s) crew and probably the other actors EVER again.  Take on the responsibility of contacting people – IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.  You are the one who chose to be in an industry that relies on you to be responsible.  Have I mentioned enough times that it’s your responsibility to be responsible for your own responsibility?  Call, text, or email the people in charge TWENTY-FOUR HOURS BEFORE the audition/gig.

VERBAL
Learn when it’s fuckin’ okay to swear or not.  Whoops, my bad –this is not the place today.  I like the word fuck just like a lot of you do but it’s not okay to just walk into an audition or be on set and just let it all fuckin’ slip out.  Look – I don’t buy the whole “it shows your lack of education if you swear” – BS.  It’s a morals thing – some people think it’s really offensive to them and I think it’s fine to respect that on set or any other work related place. You are going to work with all sorts of people in this industry so just be cool with swearing, politics, religion and sex.   Now, if the Producer initiates a little fuckin’ – caution, it might be a trick.  Just sayin.’

EYE CONTACT
When a Facebook friend recommended I cover eye contact, at first I thought that it might not fit in but really it does in the long run.  Have you ever been around someone who just won’t look you in the eyes?  If someone is too close to me without my glasses – I lose focus and end up looking outward a lot but I mention this.  Again, if you are in the entertainment industry, you are your business.  You must know how to sell yourself – this goes for crew and actors.  You are contracted for each film.

FACEBOOK VS EMAIL
Don’t contact business through Facebook. Don’t contact business through Facebook. Don’t contact business through Facebook. Email the person for their email address.  If an ad says to email x email address, don’t contact business through Facebook.  Just because you’re a friend doesn’t give you special rights because there are other friends who are thinking the same thing you are.  Don’t contact business through Facebook.

CONCLUSION
Look – I’m no pro at all this and heck, I’ve been guilty a time or two but not repeatedly.  Communication has different forms and meanings.  It’s up to you to be aware of other styles and ways.  It’s like movies and distribution in other countries.  What may be an appropriate title and cover here in America, may mean “I just ate sacred cow” in India.  Of course that would be offensive and you better care because it can cost you sales.

So the point here is what?
1. Answer your emails right away.
2. Call if you need to chat about something.
3. Text friends not business partners.
4. Look at a person when you’re talking/listening.
5. Don’t swear a whole lot.
6. Fuck Facebook.

Cheers.

Gina Lockhart
Producer/Director/Writer

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