‘Work smart, not hard’ is a phrase you will hear often on a film set. In no way does it mean be lazy, in fact it means quite the opposite. The truth is that working in film can be incredibly hard…so why not do little things to make your day a little easier? At first some of it might seem a little odd, but as you gain experience and practice these tips they will become second nature.
Work Smart, Not Hard
- Draw an overhead diagram of lighting positions and/or camera positions. Sometimes seeing things from above can really help you to better understand what you are doing and often times help you to tell if you are over lighting or over covering a scene. Many cinematographers will give their gaffer with diagrams, but even if they don’t there’s nothing stopping you from drawing one up.
- Label things. I’m notoriously bad at forgetting this one. If you’ve rigged five kinos overhead and were able to run all the ballasts back to the same spot throw some white tape on them and label what they are. Later on when the DP asks you to switch two of them to low output and turn off the other two you wont be fumbling with switches.
- Communicate well and discuss complex tasks before diving in. If you need to rig a light in a weird place or rig a camera to a car, talk it out first. Just because you are the key grip or the gaffer doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask the people below you for their opinions on things. Everyone sees the world in a different way and the way someone else would do something could be faster, safer and more efficient than your way.
- Don’t question, but ask questions. It might save you a lot of unnecessary work. The last thing you want is to run a bunch of cable to find out it’s clearly in the shot. Also, asking questions might open your bosses eyes to problems that may arise later.
- Work as a team and learn to delegate responsibilities. I think this one is a little obvious, but I see a lot of department heads that don’t use their team properly. They will have everyone in the department focus on one task or do everything themselves while the rest stand around watching. If there are three or four people in your department have each person tackle a small task, then get together for the big one.
- Think ahead, especially as a best boy. The BB should always be one step ahead, if they aren’t running cable or pre-lighting the next set they could be prepping for tomorrow or taking steps to make your wrap out go smoother.
- Be as efficient as possible, you’re already carrying all the right tools, let take it a step further. This one also goes hand in hand with thinking things through before diving in. Say you have to set a flag, instead of just taking the flag and the stand grab a sandbag too. Same goes for lights, take some AC with you, or a dimmer. Try to do as much in one trip so you can get things up faster.
Work Smart, Not Hard
If you have any tips to add feel free to share below and don’t forget to brush up on your set etiquette and subscribe!