When I started working as an assistant director, I immediately encountered the resentment of crews who had been too often burned by "production" and the frustration of producers who felt crews expected more from them than the budget allowed. This disconnect is far from uncommon in the film industry, but it's something I think we have made great strides to overcome here in Seattle. Over the past decade, I've seen what was once a random assortment of fairly embittered individuals evolve into a strong and mutually respectful community. That didn't happen all by itself--those of us making our living in this industry manifested that change. And as a more coalesced unit, Seattle has yielded fantastic films. When people ask me why I want to make my films in Seattle, I always tell them it's because of the amazing, hilarious, passionate, and highly skilled crews. I'm proud of what we created here, and I want to see it continue to grow. But listen, I realize that it's not a candy-covered wonderland all the time. While we're all striving for crewtopia (I made that word up), it is still a rare gift to find yourself on a set that is completely devoid of difficulties. You may still have bad experiences. The worst thing you can do about this is get angry. The best thing you can do is learn and help others learn by communicating what your issues are. Don't yell and insult. Don't sulk or grumble or be passive aggressive. Reason with and educate those who you believe are causing your problem and try to help create the community you want to work in. Give others the benefit of the doubt, chances are they (like you) are only trying to make the best film possible.
TREAT EVERYONE WELL ALL THE TIME FOREVER
Common courtesy is incredibly underrated in this business. Because of time constraints, budget constraints, and general stress levels, people tend to develop bad attitudes. Fight this urge. Just like they say in ROADHOUSE, be nice. (Also, when in doubt, trust Swayze.) Relationships are literally everything in this business, so nurture them. Rebuilding burned bridges is hard work, especially when you didn't have to set fire to them in the first place.
ALWAYS HAVE A CREATIVE OUTLET
Yes, I am thrilled that I was a part of so many crews over the past decade. But I would have gone insane if I wasn't also working on my own projects on the side. The whole reason I began writing my film THE OFF HOURS is that I realized how necessary it was to me to have a creative outlet. The film is about people who don't have that--who get stuck in routine and stasis and boredom. It's also about breaking those cycles and living the life you really want. Find something that stimulates you and then do it every chance you get. And yes, I realize that last sentence sounds dirty.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
As you go through life, you will face choices every day. Factors such as money, time and obligation might influence those decisions. But don't forget to listen to your instincts. Your brain will tell you what you "should" do, your gut will tell you what will make you happiest. I have faced decisions in my life where my brain said one thing and my gut said the other, and I have never regretted going with my gut.
Megan Griffiths has been a director, writer and producer in the independent film community for over a decade. Her two most recent films, THE OFF HOURS and EDEN, have played at festivals worldwide and received awards for directing, cinematography and performance. Megan was the recipient of the 2012 Stranger Genius Award for Film.
Republished with permission.