The Matrix of Leadership, Part II

13 Assassins

If you’ve followed the first two recommended strategies, by now you have a surface notion of the people you’re working with on set. Now it’s time to establish the quality of your leadership with a few simple basics:

SET THE TONE

Kind of a no-brainer. If you’re going to insist that crew arrive early/on-time and stay the course during the tougher stretches, you’re going to have to step up and show the example. Entire productions have gone off the rails because the captain was not on deck every day with the team, ready to go the distance. This is an issue of respect, but more so a matter of self-respect. A really good leader is there 5 minutes before everyone else and 15 minutes after everything’s packed.

THE WAY OF SILK AND IRON

Management styles will vary, but a good general strategy will combine a positive outlook, a sense of humor, but also a firm (respectful) hand. You want the crew relaxed and loose, but not to the point of distraction. They should know you are capable of laughter in the right circumstances, but that you will suffer no shenanigans when work needs to be done. This is a delicate balance to strike but it can be achieved by consistently reminding people that you are on a schedule.

BE STRATEGIC

Sets can be chaotic things, but try hard to keep your squads moving independently. Discourage crew members from distracting actors with small talk, tell actors and other personnel to stay clear of the grips and gaffers while they work their magic, and encourage people to interact socially over lunch breaks and coffee runs rather than directly on set.

This is a trickier one because it’s an issue of keeping your people in separate units but also moving in a single direction. Ask your department heads to help you with this task as it will have the added benefit of helping them establish their own leadership bases.

KEEP THE DOOR OPEN

Your trusty 1st Assistant should be helping you field the majority of questions or distractions during the production, but do not make the mistake of removing yourself completely from access. The crew needs to understand that being in charge of things requires a large part of your concentration, but they should also feel that they can ask to “approach the bench” if they have a pressing concern or personal matter to discuss.

An open-door policy is crucial for many reasons; it tells your people that you do not consider yourself above their concerns or that you want to maintain a line of communication for important matters. In this way you not only lead your team but create a living network with them during the shoot that could prove to be really beneficial. A hundred eyes and ears are better than two any day.

To be concluded.

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