Tag Archives: producer

Producers Corner: I am quitting film….

QUITTING!

You hear it all:
Quitting is for losers.
Never give up.
Don’t give up.

Over the past year or so, I have given thought to quitting what I really love doing – filming.  It is not even the pay issues really that does it in for me because you really should love what you are doing and also know the basics of film to understand that they is not a lot of money unless it’s a feature.  Setting that aside…

DOUCHERSVILLE
I have been douched over by some of the best assholes out there and some you think are your friends for now.  But the one thing I have learned is that being a land shark has not made any of these douchers go any further up the escalator than my own ride. So, being a douche does not always pay off.  I have dedicated time to these people and nothing comes in return but this is how people like this work and once they are done with you (depending on the position like Producer knowledge), you will not see them again. So, I am sick of working with these kind of people.  This topic could go on and on and on.  I do not even want to give this negativity another moment.  They know who they are.

BLUNT
Yep, I am finally being blunt about it because I do not ever plan to work with them either so who gives a crap about bluntness or so called blacklists.  Oh, I am shaking in my sandals, Mr. (pretending to be) Spielberg.  *yawn*

I have heard every bullshit story out there possible.  You are going to have to trust me on this one.

SAF
I’ve tried to do a film support group called Seattle Area Filmmakers but people wanted to take it over and then hated on me and my idea because I NEVER once wanted it to be for my advantage or others involved to take advantage and use it for their “career gain.”  So, it got silently dissed.  I tried to do events but people are so wishy-washy anymore that they say but do different things.  I had an equipment guy spend THREE fucking days setting up his gear at a school field for an even that of the 70 people saying they were coming – 0 committed the day before and I had to cancel it because it was sunny out.  So much for dedication/time and the guy never wanted to do it again.  I was going to set up more events but worried that it would waste more artists time who wanted to give back to the community.  It just seems that there are so few willing to be behind the curtain to assist with the community – many want to use things to get noticed and be in the spotlight.  I can’t blame them, but it’s not my style.

ANGER, VERIFY & REFERENCES
I should be angry.  I’m not.  Why?  Because I trusted these people without any kind of verification.   I’m telling you – verify who the heck you’re potentially working with.  I assure you, they are blowing smoke up your arse – I don’t care how pretty their website is, how many short films they have on their IMDB (maybe  one or two known features as a distant extra), how lovely their words sound, how excited they seem, etc….VERIFY and get REFERENCES (read).   Read that blog.  It will help you.  I wish I had someone telling me that very thing in 2008.

THE ACTRESS WHO’S QUITTING- NOT TODAY
So along comes a blog (read) about Quitting.
Me: She asks the same thing I have been thinking and it was like she was writing a clean version of my own thoughts.

I decided to see if there were others out there wondering the same thing – quitting.  Sure enough, there were people out there expression their views online.

SEATTLE PA QUITTER
Here’s one guy (read) from Seattle even.  I do have to chuckle about the hours thing though – 12 hours is pretty standard and if in fact he’s working on feature films – they would be compensating for over the 12 hour mark.
Me:  I have no issues working the hours – I have worked long hard hours for years.

HE ADMITS HE SUCKS
This one (read) blew me away but at least he recognized that he just didn’t have what it takes.
Me:  I know damned good and well that I have good scripts that are thoughtfully executed, allowed to breath for a time and sent out to critical friends who don’t bullshit me into thinking my crap script is the next best thing and rush the fuck out to film it three weeks later after ruining anyone else’s chance with a good script of getting crowd-funding….. yeah, I said it.  I said what a lot of people are whispering about. So.

JUST QUIT – BY BOBCAT
Then came this article (read)  about quitting from Bobcat.  He advises to actually quit.  Yep.  You’ll see why.  I was also impressed that he used the word douche-y.  I like him.

LEGACY
What it has come down to is this – I want to have some day, my great grand kids to be able to say, “Wow, she worked on that film” versus, “Omg, what a pile of shit.  Did she not see that it was a pile of shit when reading the script?”  Yes.  I probably did and did it for the meager amount being paid (or not paid most times) and thinking I was doing a good thing for people who called me a “friend” at the time and stupidly hoped they would return the favor.  No more.

I’M QUITTING
What I have decided is that I am quitting film.  I will only dedicate time to quality scripts sent to me and I will dedicate my time to that film and if it is a short film – even if it does not obtain financial support, I will be committed to it.  After all, since when do short films actually make money.  Yep.  That’s right.  A good story is the best story.  I am doing it for the LOVE of filming, to entertain an audience, to create thought- provoking moments, and to help my fellow filmmaker FRIENDS out.  Even if that means one film a year, so be it.  Quality over quantity and quality has always been something I have harped about for years and I have severely failed myself.

NO SUPPORT
No longer, will I support anyone who has not supported or recommended me for films.  So please, do not ask me to forward your crap when you could not even support my own film that is behind due to lack of support, trusting people, letting people tell me their schedules, giving chances when I should have set the hammer down but because we all were not getting paid vs doing it for love – I was too soft and easy which was a failure moment for me.  I fully admit it.  I can do that.  How many can?

DOUCHING THE DOUCHERS
Does this mean I am now a snob to the snobs or douchers?  No.  It means I am finally standing my own ground and saying:  “Fuck you.”  I just want to make quality films with friends that mean something and not for a fuckin’ buck or to go around acting like some big shot.  Yep, I am probably an asshole after this blog but like everything else, in two days, no one will remember it.

WRITING
I will continue to write.  Because I love it and no one can douche me on writing.

Cheers.

Gina Lockhart
Producer/Director/Screenwriter and most of all…Human Being.

Producer’s Corner: So, You Wanna Be a Filmmaker

So you want to make a film.  What do you do?  Gather friends and strangers together and just do it?  Well, what if someone fell and cut their leg?   What if an actor broke their arm? Did you have contracts to protect yourself?  Did you get the insurance needed? Did you sign a contract protecting the business or home owner from such accidents?  Uh oh, do you even have a business license?

Oh sure, there are websites telling you that in four easy steps, you can become a filmmaker.  Yep.  It looks glamorous does it not?  Who doesn’t want to be an actor or a filmmaker?  It is easy work right?  Hmm.  Let’s take a look at what you really need to become a filmmaker.

This information is the difference between professional and doing a film as a hobby just for fun – and there is nothing wrong with that but, you really should protect your hobby too.  A car collector still has insurance and owns the title of his valuable cars – you should too for your films. So you hobby filmmakers should sit back and read too.

BUSINESS LICENSE

The first step you need to take is getting a business license from your state.  For Washington filmmakers: http://bls.dor.wa.gov.  The site will seem hard, but it really is not.  Just take your time and answer the questions – it sometimes helps if you know someone who has done it before.  You can take it one step further and make your business an LLC (Limited Liability Company – click on link to read up).  Huray!  You’re now on your way to being a business person!  After this – having a business plan is all up to you – another time, another blog.

TAXES – DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE

Be wise.  Be smart.  Here’s a load of information on the Washington Filmworks page about the Department of Revenue.

WASHINGTON STATE MOTION COMPETITIVENESS PROGRAM (TAX INCENTIVE)

It’s going to be easier to send you to Washington Filmworks website to follow up with and learn about the incentive.  You ARE going to need this information if you start making films with a budget.

With one of the industry’s most competitive incentive programs, Washington Filmworks provides funding assistance of up to 30% of in-state qualified expenditures (including Washington-based labor and talent). And we’ll cut you a check within 30 days. We’ve got millions in incentive funds to give away this year, offering you the opportunity to significantly cut costs without sacrificing production quality.

To qualify for our 30% return in 30 days incentive program, your production company must meet the following in-state spending thresholds:

  • $500,000 Motion Pictures
  • $300,000 Television (per episode)
  • $150,000 Commercial

CONTRACTS & OTHER FORMS

Alrighty!  So you have a script and you are in the big Producer/Director chair for your own film.  Now you want to hire crew and actors – or you might need a contract to buy a script from a Writer. Well, you need to come up with a contract that protects you, the actors, the crew, and the location you are filming in.  So – here is a list of BASIC contracts.  There are more websites out there showing basic contracts if you do an internet search. You can modify them but remember, it may still be a good idea to get an attorney to review it.
By the way – include Non-disclosure forms and a bunch of others into this category.  Yes, all the more reason to hire a person who knows how to do things – that person is called a Producer.

PRODUCER

What in tarnation is a Producer? Well, in short – they are the face and voice of your film.  Here’s a link to a blog I did – “What is a Producer?”  The Producer must have excellent and genuine customer service, marketing, administrative and business skills and knowledge. Without these skills, one will look disorganized, unprofessional, and will cause your film to be canceled, delayed or worse.  Hire a good Producer.

INSURANCE

This isn’t secret squirrel knowledge.  You can contact ANY insurance agency.  If they don’t have it, they will refer you to an agency that does.  You are looking for film insurance and a quote.  Shop around – it’s like car insurance, you want the best you can get for a good rate.  They will give you different options and you choose what’s best.

PERMITS

Unfortunately, we do need film permits and for all sorts of things.  Yes, you can swear all you want at “big brother” but it won’t get your film going any faster.  Please be professional and courteous with those who you’re submitting the permit to.  Here is a great link for Washington State Film (Washington Filmworks) to find what kind of permit you need.  For permits within Seattle, you can get them at the Seattle Office of Film & Music.  From the words of Seattle Producer/Director Kris Boustedt:  “I also want to add, re: permits. To any prospective readers/filmmakers: don’t be afraid of them (especially in Seattle). 🙂:-) The Seattle Office of Film and Music makes the process really simple and painless. They rule.”

COMMUNITY GUIDELINES

Yeah, it helps being professional at all times.  You are a contracted business and you are hiring people to work for you – even if it’s for pro bono.  Oh and just a note – don’t BS people by saying they get an IMDB credit for their work.  That only happens if you submit the (short) film to festivals and it gets accepted. Don’t say that.  So if it is pro bono (free) work – they are doing it for their own experience, to help you out (and you better return the favor), credit on the DVD and they get lunch/dinner.  That’s it.  Anyhow, here is a good guideline from Washington Filmworks about Filming Guidelines.  I also wrote a blog about safety for new crew/cast to film.

WASHINGTON STATE – CODE OF CONDUCT

I want to make sure you all understand The Code Of Conduct should be attached to the filming notification and distributed to the neighborhood.  I can’t say it any better than this:  “You are guests and should treat this location, as well as the public, with courtesy.  If we do not all work toward building a good relationship with the local communities in which we work, we will see less production, resulting in fewer jobs for us all.  Please adhere to the following guidelines.”

WASHINGTON STATE – LABOR AND INDUSTRIES             

I want to make sure that everyone understands that you are NOT exempt from City, State, or Federal laws just because you are a “filmmaker.”  Sexual harassment can happen anywhere.  Unfair treatment can happen anywhere.  Here is a list of Workplace Rights – know them.  Hiring children under 18, there are specific laws about it.  Read it.  Know it.

OSHA, WISHA, and DOSH – OH MY!

How do OSHAWISHA, and DOSH relate? What about RCWs and WACs?  I’m going to just let your read up on it all.  Safety, safety and more safety – by law, you are required to follow the rules and provide safety to cast/crew and yourself.
OSHA – federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration
WISHA – Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act of 1973
DOSH – Division of Occupational Safety and Health
I’m going to also point to my safety blog.

FIRST-AID KIT & EMERGENGY

Do you know what to do in an emergency?  Did you know you are by law to have a medical kit on set?  OSHA standard 1910.151 (b) also states an employer must have “adequate first aid supplies…readily available,” although specific first aid supplies are not listed.  Here’s a great emergency list to check out and follow.  I’m going to also point to my safety blog.

NOT A DATING SERVICE

Sorry to step on some toes here but film is not a dating service and if you’re using it as such, please read this.  For actors – You don’t need to do anything to get ahead other than audition.  Harassment in the Workplace – know it too.  The Washington State Law Against Discrimination (RCW 49.60) also prohibits sex discrimination in employment, which includes sexual harassment.  Under this law, individuals may file a lawsuit in state court or file a complaint with the Washington State Human Rights Commission.  Do not call someone hun, honey, baby, or other cute terms.  They are your colleagues and again, just because you’re not at Microsoft, doesn’t mean your exempt from the law.  Protect YOURSELF.

SAG-AFTRA

Do you even know what that means?  Lol  Don’t panic!  A lot of people don’t know this when they start making films.  Here’s your chance to learn and look them up on your own time.  Whatever you do, don’t ever feel pressure from anyone to know everything all the time.  SAG-Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA is American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.  I know, I know, a long title.  It represents over 150,000 film and television principal and background performers worldwide.  So – here’s the website to review them a bit more.  When you hire UNION actors, you will be going through SAG-AFTRA.

FI-CORE

Financial Core is the bastard child that no one wants to talk about.  Because I firmly believe that everyone should be given all information to make their own decisions – I’m posting this information.  FYI – by posting this, it does not mean I am anti-union.  In fact, I am vested in a union already.  I will not post anything about this – leaving you to read and decide ON YOUR OWN.  Do NOT let anyone intimidate or manipulate you one way or another.  Actors like Jon Voight, Gary Graham, Dennis Hopper and more are/were Fi-Core.   Both John Voight and Gary Graham explain why they chose this route as actors.  By the way – it’s not just actors who can go Fi-Core – Directors and Writers can too.

•Here’s what SAG has to say: http://www.sag.org/getthefacts/ficore2.html
•Here’s a great pro-fi-core article: http://www.coalminecanary.com/SAG.html

Now you are well informed as you should be.

PRODUCTION NAME

Make it something that is identifiable and don’t rip someone else off – for Google’s sake, make it professional.  Two Dogs Humping Productions is NOT going to get you jobs by the vast majority.

INVESTMENT FUNDING

This is where you will have to do a lot of research on your own.  Do NOT trust just anyone who says they are going to invest in your film.  Do NOT fly to meet with this person if they do not have a legit website, email address, phone number and can talk the language of finances.  There is no magic wand that will make money appear before your eyes to get your (hopefully) feature film.  Short films – either you all just do this for experience or if you feel the need, go to all the crowd funding sites and raise some disposable cash. That’s all short films are = disposable cash.  You will never make money from them but you can get funding for your future feature films if they show some good quality work.

You will have to work for this – unless you hire a Producer.  Here’s another thing – do not expect anyone to just hand over their investor contacts.  No one will and once you’re up and running – you shouldn’t either.  Yep – I’m telling you to protect your work, your investors, yourself, your crew and your cast in this whole entire blog.  I will warn you this – Investors know bullshit.  Don’t try to bullshit them or you will be out the door.

COMMUNITY – COMPETITOR

In every city, there are filmmakers just like you wanting to make money and build a great community.  The one piece of advice is to remember that while you’re building great relationships – never give out your project information.  Why?  Well it can be many things: a) you tell someone something, they forget it and six months later they have the same project because you put it in their subconscious b) they deliberately beat you to the chase and ripped you off c) it’s just not wise.  Don’t mentor.  Oh sure, you can do it, but once everyone has picked your brain to death, you’re left standing like a Zombie. Never give out what studio job you have sent your resume to.  Why?  Your community is your competitor too.  They want the same job because they want to be paid as well.  It’s not wrong – it’s business.

OFTEN COPIED – NEVER DUPLICATED

If you’re someone who’s really sharp and on the ball, be prepared for the copy-cat syndrome.  Just remember that you can be copied but never duplicated.  Smile with that.  This is another reason to keep a lid on your projects.  Yeah, yeah – they are going to watch you and do what you do.  People see through it.  What works naturally for you will not work for them.  Be thankful that you are in touch with yourself.  Look, no one can be you or repeat what you have done with your production company, your films or your acting style.  There is one Peter Jackson, Brad Pitt, and Sigourney Weaver. Heck, there’s even just one Megan Fox.

SHINY NEW TOY

A person on the move is a person that many will see as a shiny new toy.  Some of you will rise very fast and some a little slower and more calculated.  While it is great to network, socialize and all that pretty stuff – just be cautious who you let into your production. You’re going to have sycophants around you and that’s up to you to decide who they are.  You’ll be told how awesome you are and you won’t know that the last shiny new toy was told the exact same words six months and two projects earlier.  Just remember this – you’re not in this business to gain more “family” members, you’re here to make film and either do it as a career or to do it as a hobby.  This happens in any town or city, so don’t feel you need to move from Atlanta to LA or Austin to Seattle.  It just happens.  People want to get ahead at any cost.

COMMUNICATION

I’ll just send you over to this blog about communication.  Read it. Communication is a huge problem.  I repeat – Communication is a huge problem.

CREW/CAST RESPECT

Again – sending you to another blog about respect.  You better know it and do it because word gets around fast.

RESPONSIBILITY & CONSEQUENCES

Responsibility:  You are responsible for the safety and well-being of all your crew/cast that you hire along with the business and homes you use.  Professionalism is the best practice.  Always be courteous and helpful.  If it is too much for you, hire a Producer that can be a voice for your film.  While we are on “Responsibility”, if you screw up, step up and take responsibility for it.  Running away and hiding won’t build you any peace bridges any time soon.  It’s about being professional.
Consequences:  If someone is injured on set and you do not have insurance, you are running the risk of being sued. If you treat people badly, you run the risk of burning your own bridge with your local film community.

HOLY CRAP

I know what you’re thinking by now.  “Holy crap Gina, I don’t know if I want to make films after all – there seems to be so many laws and guidelines.  I just wanted to make a movie.”  Well, the answer is this – it’s called show business for a reason.  It really is a business and accountants, attorneys, auditors, tech editors, etc are all involved eventually.  It is a great industry to be in but you also have to treat it as a job and be responsible as well.  Just remember, you are representing yourself as a business.

MAKING A MOVIE

Go forth and make a movie.  Don’t forget about hiring crew/cast and that can mean pro bono as well.  Make sure the script is good, you have great lighting and actors.  You are now on your way to being a filmmaker!!!

OTHER RESOURCES RIGHT OFF THE WASHINGTON FILMMORKS SITE:

Resource Downloads
Business Seeking Work in Film Industry

Community Filming Guidelines

Excemption Certificate

Funding and Grant Resources

Guidelines for Private Property Owners

History of Film-TV in WA

Market Your Community to the Film Industry

Statute 6423

Statute 6558

Talent + Extras Cautions and Guidelines

Things to Consider when Location Scouting

WA State Code of Conduct

 WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION

Well as stated above, you can get the information from Washington Filmworks and Seattle Office of Film & Music.

I am no expert but I take the time to read up and I have fantastic mentors of years in Hollywood, Vancouver, New York, London, Washington DC, and those that fly back home to Seattle. If anyone would like me to add anything more to this – email me at:  officialginalockhart@gmail.com

Cheers.

Gina Lockhart
Producer/Director/Writer

Producer’s Corner: Safety Tips for New Cast/Crew to Film

SAFETY TIPS FOR NEW CAST/CREW TO FILM

Hello everyone!

So you’re new to film and you don’t know where to go or what to do.  I’m here to make this as simple and safe for WASHINGTON STATE filmmakers but you can apply this to your own State and look for film groups there.  These are basic items to help protect you and get you off and running with your film career.

1.   The first thing you want to do is join all of the below groups (links) and network – get to know filmmakers all over the State.

2.   Sit back a few days to watch conversations and converse with people to know them.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions in the group and introduce yourself.

3.  If someone wants to hire you from one of the groups, craigslist, personal invite – do a background check on them.  By this, I mean take their name and do a search on them in Google (or other browser).  Same goes for a production company name because there are times when it really is “too good to be true.”  So how does the search look?  Here’s an example:  Philosophia Studios and David S. Hogan

The search will look like this for a studio:
Philosophia Studios | Facebook
www.facebook.com/pages/Philosophia-Studios/218422578340
 Philosophia Studios, Seattle, WA. 431 likes

Philosophia Studios | Wix.comginalockhart.wix.com/philosophiastudios
Philosophia Studios is a quality multi-media film production, photography and graphics design company.

The search will look like this for a person:
Lisa Skvarla – IMDb
 Lisa Skvarla is known for her work on Worst Thing That Ever Happened to Me (2010), The Collectibles (2012) and When He Comes Back. … Lisa Skvarla on Twitter. Worst Thing That Ever Happened to Me Reenactment.

There should be good/normal websites when looking up the company/person’s name.  If there is something bad/negative written, it will usually come up within the first two search pages.  You can also type in studio/person name and scam.  Like so: John Bungalow scam.  Immediately, there should be something that comes up indicating they are a scammer.

If you still feel odd about a person – you can also use Washington State Courts website to look up a name. Be advised that anyone with a speeding ticket or divorces are in there but it does list restraining orders, etc.
http://dw.courts.wa.gov/

4.  BEFORE you ever sign a contract or work on a film, you should do a search.  This will save you time, nightmares and worry.

5.  When you join the below groups on Facebook, and after you get to know people enough, ask someone if they have heard of “Tinker Bajinker Productions.”  If they have not, contact the Seattle Office of Film & Music or Washington Filmworks (links below for contact info).

6.  TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!! Even if there is no bad information on someone or the company, but your instincts are sending you vibes to back away – do it and now!  Don’t hesitate.

7.   There should never be any auditions at a home – especially if it’s a “private” audition.  For crew, same thing with interviews.  Always, always, always meet at  a public place.  Just because it’s film, doesn’t mean it’s exempt of having creepers as well.  The one thing to remember is that most people have day jobs and you should never feel like you’re being sexually harassed. The only way this can be done is with colleagues who know each other.  If you are a Producer/Director reading this – don’t do this, word gets around.  Trust me.

8.  Read the contracts.  As a new person in film, don’t buy into the work for free and you get an IMDB credit.  That happens only if they submit the film to a film festival and it gets accepted.  Make sure the contract says you get a copy of the film within one month of the final edit.  If they don’t provide a contract for this – do not work with them.  Integrity- either they have it or they don’t.

9.  Drugs and alcohol on set.  Do you think Boeing or Microsoft allows this?  If you see it – you might consider leaving the set immediately.  Safety violations, etc – you don’t want to be attached.

10.  Just remember, with any job you are hired with, you send in a resume and a reference check happens.  Film is (or should be) done the same way.  Being a contracted filmmaker does not make us exempt of City, State and Federal laws.

Have fun!  Work around on all sorts of film groups.

Cheers!

Gina Lockhart
Producer/Director/Writer

LINKS TO GET YOU STARTED!!!

Washinton Film Crew/Cast – Production Notice Only
https://www.facebook.com/groups/226864597369094/

For film information (Budgets, Contracts, Websites, etc) concerning Washington State film:
http://seattle-area-filmmakers.wikispaces.com/

Seattle Area Filmmakers fan page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Seattle-Area-filmmakers-SAF/282418219408?v=info&ref=nf

For posting anything: The Film Matrix – set up by Jeremiah Kaynor
https://www.facebook.com/groups/224305864261905/

For the Production Peeps private group –
ask a Washington Filmmaker to get in it.

For Visual FX Artists – After Effects Seattle (AESeattle)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/145072538846056/

For Actors (Producers/Directors welcome too) Seattle Film Makers and Actors – Set up by David S. Hogan https://www.facebook.com/groups/336252909744682/

David S. Hogan’s “Craft” Services – Set up by David S. Hogan
https://www.facebook.com/groups/338451366217340/

For Editors – Post Production Awareness
https://www.facebook.com/groups/200799869947605/

Seattle Film and Photo Group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/244622442238622/

For Whatcom County Filmmakers
https://www.facebook.com/groups/103309633086439/

Women in Film/Seattle
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Women-in-FilmSeattle/127524323997?ref=ts

For Washington State film news: Washington Filmworks
ttps://www.facebook.com/pages/WashingtonFilmWorks/74223643959

Seattle Office of Film & Music
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Seattle-Office-of-Film-Music/110609935635907

Washington State House of Representatives:
http://www.leg.wa.gov/house/representatives/Pages/default.aspx

 For information about our sister cities:

Portland’s version of SAF – Portland Film and Video Networking
https://www.facebook.com/groups/116698035018404/

Vancouver – Vancouver Film Industry
https://www.facebook.com/groups/2375973360/

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……

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

Producer’s Corner: Respect, Praise and Payment for Crew & Talent

Producers – you are responsible for all the action or lack of action that goes on your self with pre, mid, and post production.  You are the rudder of a ship and you have the choice to take your project out to sea or run it into the rocks. It is you that is the business person, not Dad or Mom of a crew. Your crew are people you hired as a contracted filmmaker to get a project completed in some cases, you bond with many and return over and over which is a nice compliment by the way.

Like in my last blog on describing what a Producer is – not everyone is cut out to be one. You can’t be a land-shark in this industry either. If you’re out to make the big bucks on your own project but pay your crew with dog stool dollars, you’re hurting yourself in the long run – remember?  You are responsible for all the action, feeling, thoughts and energy that goes on with the production.  Here – read what a Producer does just in case you don’t know or need a refresher course.  Producer’s Corner: What is a Movie Producer.  Make sure you’re seeking to be a Producer for the right reasons.

Below are some topics that I borrowed from a previous blog I wrote last year that always seem to be an issue with the film industry.

DISCLAIMER:  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 above all, to keep me from being an egotistical narcissistic nightmare, a better fillm maker, friend and colleague.

Crew Titles
Give credit where it’s due and don’t take advantage of people who may have more knowledge but are hired for something lower – like someone is normally a Producer but volunteered or paid to be a Script Supervisor and you start picking their brain for information. That’s not what you hired them for and it’s not cool. Crew – protect yourselves with contracts. A Director is a Director – not a PA. An AC is not a PA. A PA is not a 2nd AC. If they have to switch gears on set, be sure to give them full credit for what they did. I don’t care if it’s an independent film – there are plenty of people out there who are willing to help out for experience so hire them – stop with the ‘tight ass’ crew syndrome.  Know the difference between a UPM (Unit Production Manager) and an LP (Line Producer).  That’s research for you.

Crew Praise
You didn’t make that film. Your crew and cast did – this is the biggest pet peeve I have experienced and won’t ever tolerate this self-glory crap again. This is why I set the standard of everyone seeing on movie fan pages that I’m the Producer on to see ALL crew/cast members.  Yes, it’s the Director’s vision but without crew/cast – wouldn’t have happened.

Crew Respect
“I’m working as hard as I’m getting paid” said a DP once on set as he was receiving no pay but being ordered around to hurry and such by the AD/Director. At the time, it might seem disrespectful, but a couple years later, I clearly understand why the DP made that comment.  We could pick this apart by saying that the DP should be working hard no matter if it’s volunteer or paid but there is a different attitude when you’re paid. Now, if the DP was working for close colleagues, I’m sure he would have done everything possible to bust his hump, but was he out of line as he uses a $2,500 camera outside when the production has no equipment insurance to protect the gear? I don’t think so.

However, there comes the factor that we are all our own contracted business and how hard we work reflects on who we are. Personally, I give 100% to any gig – paid or non-paid because it’s just right to do so for the best interest of yourself and of the film. What if due to your slacking off on a non-paid gig that YOU volunteered for caused the film to look like crap and what if the whole crew had the same attitude? Nothing would get done.  What would have been better for the DP above is to pull the AD, Director and Producer to the side and gave a piece of his mind for some resolution about the lack of planning.

I will point out that if you’re volunteering on a flaming ship that is sinking due to the Producer/Directors on board, there is nothing, not one thing you can do – it’s your choice to jump ship or keep going if you really need something on your reel.  If you stay, just do the best you can at your job – you owe it to yourself.

Paid gigs are the priority – absolutely! I am a firm believer of paid gigs and family is a priority over a pro bono gig.

Payment – Contracts
It’s one thing to do a pro bono gig for close colleagues and another thing to do something for experience, but when a production company has full intentions of sending their movie to a film festival in hopes for it to be bought and made into a feature film or have full intentions of the movie going into distribution – crew, protect YOURSELF. Make sure that the contract you sign has the language of at least deferred payment with a base pay and a percentage depending on your position. Cast – this goes for you too.

Payment – DVD
This is the biggest complaint I receive on the Seattle Area Filmmakers emails or hear from colleagues. Why is it so hard for productions to just squeeze out a copy of the DVD for their crew/cast who have worked so hard to make ‘their’ dreams come true? Shelved or not, give your cast/crew a copy of the movie they worked on and save your reputation. Give them something so they can use it for their demo reel – you OWE it to them no matter what.  Otherwise, don’t be so shocked when they won’t return or others won’t work with you.  Word does get around fast – no matter how good of an excuse you create.

Payment – IMDB
Please don’t promise this unless you have full intentions of going to film festivals or DVD distribution. Oh and by the way – that’s IF a festival considers the film to get an IMDB credit – must be submitted AND considered in order for them to validate your work. It’s a really lame excuse for payment as well and I would never offer it as a serious form of compensation. It just shows a filmmaker clearly know nothing about how the industry works and screams amateur.

Payment – Experience
Just because they work on your production, does not mean they get treated like the new kid to haze or make them bust their hump harder. There are a lot of people who would like to work in film – give them a chance to fill in a position. Don’t forget about interns from colleges. Treat them good!

Payment – Volunteer or Intern
Let’s look at it this way, you apply to a job at Microsoft or Boeing an they ask you one of two things: 1. What is the lowest pay you will accept or 2. Can you work pro bono for this job. Huh? You mean they don’t do that? Oh that’s right they don’t because as a legal/licensed business within the State of Washington, they follow the legal guidelines for hiring people.

What’s the legal guidelines you ask – here it is:
WA State:
See (d) for volunteerism. If they are working for IMDB credits and a DVD – you might want to give it to them. But we should all take a look at the few lines before (e) – for profit. This is an eye opener for us all.

http://www.lni.wa.gov/workplacerights/files/policies/esa1.pdf

http://www.lni.wa.gov

I talked with the Labor and Industries to make sure of what I read and what I posted above IS correct information. If a filmmaker is seeking to profit from the film (distribution), then people can’t volunteer. They suggested that a filmmaker (with a business license) pay something to their volunteers and also with their Industrial Insurance to get Volunteer coverage as well to protect their business because volunteers have grounds for small claim suits and file worker right claims.

Payment – Food
Some people got PB&J food for lunch and most people are pretty cool with this if they know ahead of time. There’s also a problem with this that many of you didn’t see already.  It’s legally in your best interest to ASK your crew about dietary restrictions (not requests).  If someone has a peanut allergy, someone is Jewish and you serve pork, someone is gluten free, someone has seed restrictions, etc – you have to be aware of these things as a someone in the production team.

Burning Bridges
Burning bridges in this town, in this town…..please. Listen, no one is big enough to screw your career up. The only person who can screw up your career is you. You can do that by how you treat people. First of all, no one is on the level of Mr. Lucas or Spielberg and even then, they are not jerks about their status either.

If people turn their back on you because you can’t work on their production for some reason various reason – you don’t need to have those people in your database.

If they don’t like you because you don’t booze it up and take a line with them – you’re not screwing up or burning bridges, you’re looking out for your career.

If you did any of the above things like not paying crew when it was a paid gig, not giving their DVD (raw or completed), lie, cheat, steal, or not giving their credit where due – expect a cold shoulder and no referral with good reason. Don’t expect those crew people to be pleased to see you.  That’s a legitimate reason that you burned your own bridge.

There are people who have bailed on me over and over but their reasons were legit – I don’t shun them for it. Who am I? Just a filmmaker in an area trying to get my work out. No one controls any area – no one is the boss of film in any city.

I don’t see Mr. Spielberg acting like a 15 year old kid claiming to be the King of Hollywood. It doesn’t matter if you’re broke or wealthy trying to do film – do it! No one owns you, no one controls you and this is a free country with a lot of filmmakers. Just always remember, treat your crew/cast with respect.

Be upfront with your crew/talent. Most people are pretty understanding about things but hate being lied to.  Do the right thing in the first place and it will help you in the long run.

Things need to change.  They need to change fast.  We are a city that is trying to look as professional as Hollywood, Atlanta, New York City or Vancouver BC – so, start acting like it.

Cheers!

Send hate mail to:  officialginalockhart@gmail.com  Yep – have a chat with me through email or call me if you don’t like what I said above.  I’m not an expert but I’m doing my best to learn as I go.