Top Ten Things Crew Members Do That Annoy the Living Shit Out of the AD Team.
Currently I’m set PAing on a rather large production. Ok, the largest production I’ve ever worked on. It’s nice to step out of ADing indie features for a moment and just watch and learn (and stand for 16 hours a day telling everyone when we’re rolling).
One of the things I’ve been able to really observe since I’m not running around in the thick of it all is all the many ways crew and cast members piss off the ADs. This seems to be a universal gripe list, at least for where I’m currently situated on the Third Coast.
Some of these may be done intentionally, because let’s be honest, the ADs walk around as large moving targets for crew to hunt down with every complaint they can come up with. But some of these you may not even realize you’re doing. Regardless of intent, these are the things you guys do to us that pisses us off.
10. Loiter on the set after lunch is called/not get into the lunch line in a timely fashion.
You may not understand why it’s so important for us to usher you to the mess hall, but we have an obligation to make sure we’re not wasting a single minute of the day. Unless you tell us not to count you towards Last Man, please hold off on lengthy errands until after you’ve gone through the lunch line.
9. Talk down to or ignore the PAs.
Ok, we get it. They can be annoying sometimes. And a lot of PAs are quite green to the production world. You were once that person. Maybe you were lucky and jumped right into your preferred position pretty quickly, but there’s an old saying about being polite since everyone is fighting a hard fight. Take this to heart when dealing with the PAs. They were there before you were and they will be there after you’ve signed out. They put up with a lot of bullshit and sometimes they’re already assigned to a particular task or lookout they can’t step away from. They are either chastised from you or the 1st AD and they’d rather be chastised by the 1st AD. Give them some benefit of the doubt, don’t assume they know absolutely nothing, and just try to be polite, compassionate, and patient when requesting the services of one.
8. Talk over the walkie when rolling.
OMG. Did you not hear the announcement over the walkie of “roll sound”? Or how about the fifteen PAs yelling it right next to your taco cart? Please please please stay off the walkie during rolling. That’s a guaranteed way to make a patient 1st AD lose his/her shit the moment cut is called.
7. Ask the 1st AD why something is scheduled the way it is.
This happens all the time. All the time. No matter how awesome the schedule is. There’s always one crew member who wants to smugly ask the 1st AD why a location isn’t being shot out all at once or why they’re not shooting out by angle. Any 1st AD worth their weight would be scheduling to shoot out locations/angles/special equipment altogether. It’s just not that simple. There’s so much that goes into scheduling that most crew members never even think about. Unless your 1st is a total rookie or just a D-string only called in for microbudgets or absolute total fucking emergencies, don’t assume the 1st didn’t already try to schedule out these things together. Our job is to make the best schedule we can with the elements we have. That is not your job. Or else you’d be 1sting. Your department head will have made suggestions to the schedule during pre-pro and will be constantly working to make sure the 1st AD is keeping their department’s needs in mind when making scheduling changes. You wouldn’t like it if I was constantly asking why you were rigging a lighting set up a certain way or picking a certain color scheme for the set, please don’t do the same to me.
6. Panic over the walkie.
I’m going to preface this first by saying that I am totally guilty of this too. And it sucks when I find myself doing this. My 2nd will usually call me out on this when it happens (which, thankfully has been less and less with my experience building). But man is hearing a screeching freaking out voice the worst over the walkie. The absolute worst. I know when I’m doing it, I’m pissing off the entire set because when it’s done to me, that person is pissing off the entire set. It’s a shitty snake-eating-its-own-tail scenario, so let’s all try to check ourselves on this behavior and keep the screeching/panic over the walkie to a minimum.
5. Getting annoyed with us or our PAs when we request ETAs.
The “it’ll get done when it gets done” mentality is not the best way to answer an AD who’s clearly pressed for time and trying to give the director an accurate assessment of how long a shot’s going to take. Sometimes, we are asking this because either you or your department is notorious for giving out unrealistic ETAs on tasks or we’re trying to determine whether or not the task you’re doing is worth the time it’s going to take. Sometimes, a director is willing to compromise or get rid of altogether a request they’ve made on a particular department based simply on how long the task will take. Paired with the fear of losing shots due to long set up times, a director often requests ETAs to feel secure about their requests on a particular department. Also, how many times have you told an AD that it would be 5 minutes and then 10 minutes later, you are still telling us it’ll be 5 minutes? Don’t do that. Then we’ll REALLY be on your ass about ETAs.
4. Not settling down when it’s time to settle down.
We don’t like sounding like your parents telling you to go to sleep on a school night and you don’t like being treated like a 10 year old with a curfew. So why the hell do we get the stink eye when we ask you all to settle down for a shot? We give plenty of warnings (usually) and have a whole process of calling roll developed so you know when it’s time to be quiet. Carrying on conversations/making loud noises/answering your cellphone/stomping towards crafty while we’re trying to quiet folks down during rolling is a surefire way to make the PAs feel like shit and the ADs request a word with your department head. Be respectful of the set. We don’t want to go all Kubrick and shoot 130 takes of a shot because you can’t keep still. And yes, we can totally hear you whispering on the mics. You’re not a sound person, so don’t assume their mics aren’t picking up your potato chip bag rustling or your desperate attempt to wrap out a 4 ott cable to get a one minute head start on wrap out. Just be quiet when we’re rolling. It’s just common sense.
3. Telling us you’re ready when you’re clearly not.
This is something DPs like to do. And I’ll never understand it. We get the shit end of the stick for being the folks to tell you it’s time to stop tweaking and start shooting. But nothing annoys me more than telling me you’re ready to shoot and then clearly not being done with whatever you’ve assigned your team to do. Even worse, waiting until the last possible second to make a tweak that ends up killing another 5 minutes. If you’re not ready, you’re not ready. That’s fine, but you make yourself look bad whenever you say you’re ready to shoot and they’re clearly still working.
2. Ignoring the call sheet.
The call sheet is a wonderful invention some genius came up with many moons ago to ensure ADs of future generations would not have to spend every night of a production answering basic production questions from 100+ crew members and god knows how many cast members. The call sheet is the most handy dandy thing you’ll be handed all day and there’s a lot of sweat, tears, and even some blood that goes into creating one every day. So when you can’t be bothered to look at the info on the callsheet to know what time your call is, what scenes we’re doing, where we are filming the next day, etc. etc… that’s like killing a piece of our souls. Every time you stop and ask an AD about information that’s on the sheet you’re holding in your hands, god kills a kitten. No joke.
1. Not listening to anything we’ve called out, announced, or personally discussed.
You’d think this wouldn’t happen on a professional production. You’d think people were pretty clear that when the 1st AD is calling out information, they would stop, shut the fuck up for a second, and listen to what’s happening next/safety announcement/scene announcement/etc. And yet, there’s always a couple who walk right by when you’re talking to the crew about the shot and those few will inevitably ask you (usually in a flustered and slightly annoyed way), “what way are we looking?/What shot are we on?/What scene number is this?/Dude, I didn’t hear about having that ready!/Insert other inane questions and statements that can be prevented by listening to the 1st AD here.” Yes, there are some ADs that are pretty bad at announcing what’s going on and yes, there are times when we don’t even know what’s going on. But 9 times out of 10, when information doesn’t get passed down the line, it starts with a crew member who simply just zoned out during the 1st AD’s announcement. Our jobs are hard enough, please try to stop for a second and listen to what we’re saying. It’ll often save you a shit ton of time and help keep you somewhat sane in this crazy industry.
Please take heed of these things and try to be understanding when dealing with your AD team. Even making small steps to acknowledge when you’re exhibiting these habits and then trying to fix this behavior will make your ADs ten times more grateful and willing to help you out when the time comes that you need their help (and you will).
And before you all get pissy about this… my next article will be able the things ADs do that annoy the piss out of crew members. We’re certainly no strangers to fucking it all up.
Until next time, happy filming and READ YOUR DAMN CALLSHEETS!