Let me first say that I love my job. I love that when I have a gig I get to go help people who make movies. I love the life style and the protocol. I chose script supervising for many many reasons and with each new project I really learn to love the job more.
Now, lets talk about the fact that while this is an artistic medium my job is still very much a job.
So here is a short list of things producers say and do that make me want to throw things.
1) Saying “it’s a low budget.”
Yes, we get it. The pathetic total on my paycheck is reminder enough that we’re on a low budget movie. That phrase should only ever be used as an apology for something going wrong, not an excuse to take advantage of your crew. We are working for you and just because you pay us less doesn’t mean that we do less of our job- so you shouldn’t either.
2) Not having healthy options for craft and catering
No, a cesar salad consisting of iceburg lettuce, creamy dressing, and parmesean cheese does not count as healthy. I understand that it is seemingly cheaper to buy pizza/subway/fastfood instead of providing a healthy meal but in the long run you’ll be losing quality of the work on set. Don’t feed us pasta covered in cheese on an overnight shoot- everyone will just fall asleep. You want our best work? Find a caterer that will stock food that will keep us working. It doesn’t have to be fancy. We’re not picky, we just don’t want to get sick.
3) Getting angry when we ask you for things.
You are the producer. It is your job to produce for us the things we need to make your movie. No one said it was an easy job. Attempting to guilt trip me by lamenting your lack of sleep only tells me that you didn’t know what you were getting yourself into when you starting producing.
4) Talking about money and deals you made with other crew members.
It is not my business, literally, what my fellow employees are making. So please don’t use their contracts as political leverage in attempt to pay me less. I know that you haven’t seen any money yet but that doesn’t bother me because as a producer your paycheck is in the long run. As contracted crew members we only get paid up front. Whether the movie makes one thousand or one hundred thousand dollars doesn’t matter to me because my payment won’t change.
To that end- please don’t tell me how little sleep you got the night before or how many people are complaining to you as a way to get me to feel bad for you. You’re a producer- on these small budget things you are more HR than creative. It’s a shitty job- it’s why I don’t do it.
5) When shows go over budget for things and not for people
Please don’t tell me that there is no room in the budget to pay for a full time wardrobe supervisor and then flippantly spend twice their day rate on a shirt that will get used once. It shows a blatant misunderstanding and disrespect of the process and the people in your employ.
6) Safety of your crew and employees MUST be priority number 1.
We all want this movie made- it’s why we’re here but at then end of the day we’re just playing a grown up version of dress up and it isn’t that serious. It sucks to lose money but it will such worse then your negligence causes someone to get hurt and the production gets sued for way more than it would have cost to prevent it.
What I have to say to low budget producers is this- Just respect your crew. Respect their jobs and the work that goes into them. Apologize for things that didn’t go right but put forth some effort to prove to us that we matter. Crew morale is so important to completing your film and having a positive experience. You’ll get four times your investment in work if you just show some decency and forethought. We’ll be very understanding if you treat us like people and not money pits.
Ultimately this is your show- do you really want your reputation to be that you treat your crew poorly?