This month in her podcast, Lydia answers your questions on film crew attitudes, growing in the business, and breaking into the business, as well as adding her point of view to some questions asked of Shane.
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April 2016 Podcast
[For Shane] Hi Shane, I have a question about the attitudes of crew in the film industry. I recently got my first my camera trainee job on a BBC Children’s TV comedy/drama and I’ve been so excited to be there and loved everything about it, however, I’ve been massively surprised to see how many members of the crew don’t like their jobs. I’ve had so many comments about how they remember when they were young and giddy like me and how I’ll soon become cynical and heard so many people talk about how they can’t wait to get out of work and how depressed they are to be there. I was so shocked to see people act like this when we’re working in a job that so many people work so hard to break into (I myself worked on unpaid micro budget films for nearly 3 years until I got this job). I guess I’m just wondering if this is just normal human nature to work? Or is it possibly because it’s only a children’s drama with not much creativity or exciting scenes? As I just can’t imagine the crews on massive exciting feature films being the same but maybe I’m wrong. Thanks! These podcasts and the Inner Circle as whole have taught me such a ridiculous amount over the last year and have improved my own cinematography and general understanding of the film industry so much!
Hi Shane+Lydia: my question is directed toward staying and growing in the business. It seems now with the advent of digital cinema, that there is a flood of new people into the business. With this surplus of DoPs now in the business, from basically anybody owning a digital camera and going out there and shooting, the rates and availabilities for jobs has shrunken. The rates have plummeted, and even if you had formal education in the business by going to film school and such, there are companies out there paying DPs and operators pennies for their time and equipment, and further drawing the price of labor and equipment down to almost nothing. On top of that, they demand the latest equip or a can do attitude that must be apparent at all times. It’s all a bit frustrating…I came up when film was just starting to fizzle out and I’ve had great strides in certain periods but its becoming fairly difficult to be heard or be offered what I deserve given my 10+ yrs experience in the business! Further, its hard to move further up and actually be consistently working in the industry. Given most productions will pay less than what is acceptable per the experience and on top of that, productions are pushing further for faster, cheaper, and longer hours, how can we as professionals compete against other people who will undercut the rates and take over a job we may be overqualified to do? Please take your answer into the consideration that this does affect marriage, having kids, buying a home, and trying to stay afloat while still pursuing a very desired dream. thank you!
[For Shane] Hey Shane, we all know keeping a successful relationship is a really hard thing to do in this field. I always enjoy hearing you talk about the relationship you have with Lydia and how you both support each other. Can you give us any examples of things you do on the road to keep a strong relationship and let the ones you love at home, feel loved? When on the road, especially on a feature, I have a hard time with this. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much, Rob
[For Shane] Hi Shane, I’ve been bumming around the film and tv industry in Australia off and on for 20 years. I’ve done corporate videos, low end TVCs, short films and other projects in different capacities. I’ve never been able to quite go full on in the industry (part is the size of our industry, a lot of it is me and my family commitments – I don’t want to make excuses). Anyway, I want to make a huge commitment and go in guns blazing and make my own indie feature and see what happens and hopefully make a full time career/lifestyle. But, in the back of my mind I think, can I continue to get up at all crazy hours, spend 14, 18, whatever hour a day, for weeks and/or months at a time to get the film in the can. Is motivation always a problem in the industry. It’s a tough industry – fact. Do you ever wake up in the morning and say, “man, I wish I could stay at home today” or are you so passionate and motivated, you can’t wait to jump out of bed and go make a movie today? Do most high end filmmakers feel this way? Or am I just kidding myself and I need to move on to a different career (but I always come back to film)? What’s the secret to staying motivated? Thanks Gene.
Shane and Lydia, it is so awesome that you guys are offering the notes to up and coming cameramen. It’s tough out there… I have been shooting for years while gaffing and humping cable 728 style :). I feel that each new project shows my growth as an artist, yet I’m finding it difficult to find any new contacts. Any advice to break in the initial door? Thanks so much for your valuable time.
Hi Shane, Lydia, Love the blog! I recently moved to the LA area from Colorado to pursue more opportunities in the production industry. I’d really appreciate your advice as to how to network and get noticed in such a big city like LA. I’m really just seeking great experiences so I can learn and advance my skills! Thanks so much for your time, and for this blog. I’ve really learned a lot since I started following you!
Hi Shane and Lydia, Thanks so much for all the effort you’ve put into creating Shane’s Inner Circle. It’s an invaluable resource and I’ve yet to find anything quite like it, so thank you! My question isn’t so much regarding the usual stuff, I’m curious as to any advice you may have on prioritizing the things that are important in your life, with all the travel and hours the industry entails. You and Lydia have created something pretty incredible with the inner circle, but I think just as incredible is managing to keep a solid family life and marriage in and industry like this. I’m recently married and currently work at an agency south of LA with potential to slowly move deeper into the industry. Though, sometimes it’s discouraging, with the little I know, thinking about moving a family into that lifestyle. So, how do you balance family with work, how do you manage the travel and the hours while keeping your family and marriage the top priority? Thanks again for your willingness to share all the insight and wisdom you’ve gained over the years. Luke
This question is for both Lydia and Shane: My career as a DP was really just starting to take off at about the same time that my husband and I decided to have our first child. I worked through my whole pregnancy and thought it would be easy enough to still take on shorter projects and be away from home for the 12+ hours a day that most of the gigs in our field require once my baby was born. This hasn’t been the case, my son and husband did not do well with me being gone for those long stretches. Also, I decided to breastfeed, which made taking on demanding days (with no opportunity for pumping breaks) even more of a challenge. In the past two years, I’ve not applied for a lot of jobs that I had a good shot at landing. I turned down jobs that would have been perfect, if they didn’t require multiple 12hr days on set. I have been very fortunate in the fact that I have a handful of corporate clients where I’m able to have enough control over the schedule to make it work. It’s not quite the career path I envisioned and it has been a challenging time but I am so thankful to have, so far, found a way to do both in some fashion. I’m now pregnant with our second child and am a little bit scared about how much harder the next few years may be for my career. What was the transition like for your family from one to two? I feel so alive on set, I really miss being able to be part of features, tv shows, and other longer projects. I know it’s idealistic to hope for our industry to consider 8hrs a normal day and 12hours a long day. But for now, I cannot work the 12+hr days. Any ideas for how I can still work on sets given the limitations by my family commitments? Or is this really a “you can do everything, just not all at once” type of situation? Thanks! p.s. Thank you so much for the Inner Circle, I have learned so much already in the short few months since I’ve joined. The format works well for really diving in for short chunks of time!