Working on a film or photography set isn’t only about shooting and directing. It’s also about collaborating with many different people, and some of them can be very difficult to work with. In this video, Ryan Connolly of Film Riot gives you some spot-on tips for working with these kinds of people.
Ryan answers a few questions in the video and this topic starts around the 7th minute. As we probably all know, there are all sorts of difficult people we can run into or collaborate with. Some of them don’t respect your creative vision, the others won’t “play by your rules,” or they insist on their ideas even though they don’t fit your creative vision. Those situations are both emotionally draining for you, but they also affect the shoot. So what should you do?
First, Ryan suggests that you ask yourself if your cast and crew really trust you. If you feel that they don’t, then think about what you can do to earn that trust. Ryan gives his example: it was his first time working with a stunt team, and the team knew it. They had a bad experience in jobs like that before, so he could feel that they didn’t trust him enough. To gain their trust, he took some of the footage they shot, cut it together and brought it to the set the next day so he could show them the vision of what he was trying to do. After that, they trusted him completely.
Then, remember that “it’s a choir, not just your voice.” In other words, even though you’re in charge of the creative vision and its outcome, that doesn’t mean you should say “no” all the time. You want to be a collaborator rather than just a director. Hear people out and if their ideas fit your vision, you can accept them. But if not, make sure to explain it to your crew. Say something like “It’s an excellent idea, but it doesn’t work because it doesn’t fit the concept.”
Lastly, there’s a skill that works great with difficult people. Make them think that the thing they do, and you want them to do it, is totally their idea. With good collaborators, you won’t need this technique, but it’s a pure gem when working with difficult people. Keep in mind though that, in most cases, it comes with experience.
Personally, working with a large number of different people is what I’ve usually found the most challenging in some of the jobs I had. I don’t find my way around people particularly well, and I especially suck at dealing with conflicts. So, I find tips like this really valuable and I hope that you will too.