Leadership: Paramount for Filmmakers

Teddy Roosevelt
While I was flying to Vegas, I wrote an email to my camera team telling them what an amazing job they have done with individual shout outs to each player. When I landed in Vegas, I checked my Instagram account and Derek Edwards, my 1st AC, had posted the email. He included wonderful comments about me being a mentor, a leader and how it makes his job so enjoyable to be apart of this crew and how it motivates him to deliver his very best.

Here’s the email:

Hello Kick Ass Camera Team,
I wanted to thank you for an incredible 3 weeks. I think we are firing on all 12 cylinders. You are making me shine bright every day and I am having so much fun Trailblazing this new platform. I feel we are making a very special film and I thank you for all of your hard work, passion and excellence in making this all possible.

Some shout outs:
1st ACs: Eric Swanek and Derek Edwards, your focus and leadership has been exceptional. Keep on bringing it. You are delivering our vision to life with no DOF. Yeah baby!!!!!!
2nd ACs: Deb Peterson and Amanda Rotzler, you two keep us together, organized and on point. Love you both. Keep pushing and trailblazing.
Movi tech: Chris Herr you have stepped up to the plate and hit a grand slam, my friend. I am so proud of you and what you have been doing. I am not easily impressed and I expect the very best. Keep it up!!! Wonder Boy number 2.
Digital Utility: Derek “Cupertino” Johnson this goes without saying being the original Wonder Boy, so much has been put on you. I demand excellence from you and you have been delivering in spades. Continue to live up to your walking manual status. Keep learning and dialing in your etiquette with all of our footage.
A Cam Op: John “Buzz” Moyer what can I say. I have worked with many operators in my career but you WOW me and I love your passion and your energy to just go for it. I also love the commentary on the comms. Never ever change. We are about to embark on an amazing journey together.
B Cam Op: Rich Schutte you have been my second set of eyes. I appreciate your willingness to try new things, getting your spleen and forearms beat to crap delivering Gabriele’s and my vision on the Movi. Your smile and positive attitude goes so far with me. Keep crushing it!!!!

Peace and have a wonderful 3 days off.

In the last few weeks of shooting Fathers and Daughters, I wanted to talk a little about leadership and motivating your team to do their very best. I was interviewed by Kessler University on Sunday before NAB. The questions were so well crafted and it pulled much emotion out of me, to the point of me breaking down on camera. Yes, it is true. The guy who blows up cameras, has 40 mike missiles fly right past him, jumps out of C-130s, is ruthless in battle and doesn’t ever accept good enough, has a soft side. A good storyteller is emotional. He or she reads it, sees it and wants to do everything possible to deliver this experience to the audience.
So vulnerability is required!!

All of you have been so gracious with your comments throughout the blog, social media and in person about how much I help all of you and make a difference, or changed your life in some way. This is a huge responsibility that I take very seriously. I need to set a great example. I need to do my very best, and I need to illustrate for all of you what it means to be a good leader.

First Lesson:
Never talk down to people. Treat everyone as a collaborator, not as one of your minions. That is a bad habit that many people exude. This demoralizes your crew. You want their loyalty and their best effort. You get this by teamwork.

Second Lesson:
Give your crew huge praise when they are doing well. Show them that by doing these things, it makes you shine bright.

Third Lesson:
Do not be afraid to admit that you made a mistake, that you failed your team and that you will make it up to them. Apologize for your actions. Look into their eyes and be sincere, not condescending.

Fourth Lesson:
Be humble. No matter how much praise you get, no matter how many people tell you how brilliant you are, ground yourself. Always know that in one second all that can be stripped from you. e a man or woman of the people, not a Dictator.

Fifth Lesson:
Always help out your peers. Never feel that your help will hurt you by educating the competition. Good Karma goes the distance; build up your stock pile!!!

Sixth Lesson:
Believe in yourself and deliver a passion that is infectious; all will follow.

Seventh Lesson:
Know yourself. Surround yourself with a team whose strengths fill in where you may be weak.

Eighth Lesson:
Never be ashamed of your team. Try to support them and always look at the glass half full instead of half empty.

Ninth Lesson:
Push your crew to be excellent. Show them that second best is not acceptable.

These are my nine lessons on becoming a good leader. I try my very best to do this every day. Some days are better than others and sometimes, I fall off the wagon. My patience can very short at times, especially when the mistake has been made more than twice. Picking your team members up and dusting them off to live another day is what you have to do.

I push my crew to be their very best. I also push myself in the same manner. I live by a quote that is not from some famous director but an incredible visionary and leader Theodore Roosevelt:

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

Rich Schutte

Rich Schutte with the MoVI, Canon C500, Redrock Remote Focus, Teradek Bolt and Gemini 4:4:4 Recorder

John “Buzz” Moyer

John “Buzz” Moyer with the Canon C500 on the mini gun rig, Teradek Bolt, Gemini 4:4:4 Recorder, Redrock, and a Freefly LiPo battery supplying sufficient power while remaining very lightweight.

Derek “Cupertino” Johnson

Derek “Cupertino” Johnson

Chris Herr

Chris Herr with the MoVI, Canon C500, Redrock Remote Focus, Teradek Bolt and Gemini 4:4:4 Recorder

Amanda Rotzler

Amanda Rotzler

Deb Peterson

Deb Peterson

 Derek Edwards

Derek Edwards with the Canon C500 and Canon 30-300 Cinema Zoom

Eric Swanek

Eric Swanek with the Redrock Follow Focus


  1. John "Buzz" Moyer 1 year ago

    Can’t agree more. A smile and a pat on the back goes a long way. For lack of specifics, I feel an analogy coming on….. A pile of raw meat and vegetables in a pan will only become a gourmet feast with the right amount of heat and spicing. To much or to little of each can spoil the best of ingredients. Keep bringin the heat and seasoning big guy, I’m always hungry!

    • Author
      Shane 1 year ago

      John “Buzz” Moyer, yeah baby!!!! thanks for everything that you bring. You are a master and I so appreciate our collaboration.

  2. Spencer Weaver 1 year ago

    Wow! Excellent lessons, Shane! Thank you so much for sharing and taking the time to write down your thoughts even in the midst of a busy schedule.
    Very inspiring post that helps continue to encourage and shape my perspectove, attitude, and approach.
    Thank you!

    • Author
      Shane 1 year ago

      Spencer Weaver, you are very welcome and thank you for all your support and kind words. You ROCK!!!! my friend

  3. Hermawan Tjioe 1 year ago

    Shane, you’re every bit the person you show on screen and online. I have the rewarding opportunity to finally meet you at NAB. Thanks for your outreach and effort at accessibility. It means the world to me, and I’m sure to many others.

    • Author
      Shane 1 year ago

      Hermawan Tjioe, thank you for those wonderful words, that means so much to me to hear. It is a ton of responsibility and I so not take it lightly. I want to be there for all of you.

  4. Darren Eliker 1 year ago

    Excellent post, Shane! From a performer’s standpoint, the esprit de corps you’re working to create can be tangibly felt by those of us on the other side of the camera. Very impressive. A grateful shout-out to everyone pictured and mentioned above for embodying the principles Shane has laid out. You all rock! Thanks so much for the fantastic experience. All the best!

    • Author
      Shane 1 year ago

      Darren Eliker, It was so great working with you. Thank you for those wonderful words. You brought it. Great performance. Hope to see you soon.

  5. Brendan 1 year ago

    Shane, you are the man, simply put. Hope to someday work with you when I graduate from film school.

    • Author
      Shane 1 year ago

      Brendan, thank you so much for your wonderful words of support. How is it all going, you settling in?

  6. Randolph Sellars 1 year ago

    Shane, thank you for sharing your wise leadership philosophy. Over the years, I have tried my best to follow this type of positive leadership as well. I really respect how well you have articulated your feelings and philosophy. These are great lessons for both current leaders and up and coming leaders. If everyone in the film industry strived harder to collaborate by these guidelines, the entire process would be much more rewarding and safer. Unfortunately, some individuals with power act out their insecurities and narcissism in ways that negatively affect others. Thank you for declaring the way for all of us to benefit both artistically and spiritually. And thank you for sharing with other filmmakers all of your hard earned knowledge with your prolific blog posts.

    • Author
      Shane 1 year ago

      Randolph Sellars, so sorry it has taken me so long to get back with you. These are the comments that take my breathe away and for my wife and I the reason to keep doing this blog. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. I have failed at leadership in the past, now only 20 years into this business have I really got a handle on how to do it right and really motivate your team to kick some serious ass. Thank you for your support

  7. Robert Demers 1 year ago


    Of course #1A, which you do so well and generously; communicate. Knowing where we’re going keeps us rowing in the same direction and makes for a happy crew.

    Gotta print out this blog and paste it to the lid of my kit.


    • Author
      Shane 1 year ago

      Robert Demers, ha ha. I like that, yes, once we are all rowing in the same direction, it is asses to elbows baby to deliver the vision.

  8. Jendra Jarnagin 1 year ago

    I love these kinds of posts Shane. If being a DP is 1/3 creative, 1/3 technical, and 1/3 managerial, not enough attention is usually given to the management part!

    • Author
      Shane 1 year ago

      Jendra Jarnagin, I could not agree more and thank you so much for pointing that out. Yes, you have to have your game on with all 3. I find that to really push your vision your tech expertise has to exceed all the technicians around you, once you have that knowledge you know where the cliff is and you can decide whether to jump off this baby!!!

  9. Sheng Jin 1 year ago

    Shane, just want to say: Thank you so very much for all your efforts of sharing your experience, knowledge and wisdom with your great honesty, an open mind and a kind heart. I’ve learnt so much from your posts during the past week and again, thank you!

    • Author
      Shane 1 year ago

      Sheng Jin, This means so much to me. Thank you for these very kind words. Many blogs talk about gear, gear and more gear. The HurlBlog is an educational resource to turn you into a complete filmmaker. No one else give you a road map to follow to increase your success in this competitive field. WE DO!!!!

  10. Matthew P 5 months ago

    Thank you Shane these words mean a lot to me right now. I am working with a very newbie crew but it is a great opportunity to make something really fun in a market that would normally would not even be a thought. The challenge is that I would call this work environment a teaching hospital atmosphere. This can be very challenging when you are tasked to make a show not look “Local” if you know what I mean. I am tasked to make a daily show where people are constantly looking to me for direction for even the simplest of tasks. This can be very challenging at times when I have my own jobs to do on these days. There are days that the nerves do get tested to breaking. So thank you for setting me straight I was defiantly heading down the Dictator route since it is easy to just say do it and do it now! But I am not a total lost cause I did find out I was doing some things right. HA HA. Thank you and your team for the time and energy. Matt

    This is an older post I know but I am finally able to really sit down and digest this stuff.

    • Author
      Shane 3 months ago

      Thank you so much for you kind words and sharing all of your experiences. I get caught many times where frustration takes over and I lash out, but I try to always circle back and provide comforting feedback to the crew members that let me down.

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