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In terms of actually bringing a project to life, you can have the greatest ensemble cast since "The Godfather," but it won’t matter without a good crew. Talent and experience can be valuable when selecting crew members, but remember that these are people you will be working with for a long time. This doesn’t mean to gather up all your best friends, though depending on your budget, you might not have any other option. A “good sense of humor” is a dating profile cliché, but it’s a really good trait to have in potential crew members.

Photo: Beleg Langbogen

Considering Cost

Once you have your budget in place, this will tell you how many crew members you can actually afford. Department heads will probably have people they want to hire for the production. If they are professionals, they probably know more than you do about this stuff anyway. You have your priorities, so you know whether you want to spend more on sound or lighting. Make sure that the department heads understand how much money they can spend, then let them decide how many people to bring on board. There are plenty of things to worry about in your production, so finding the entire crew doesn’t necessarily have to be one of them. However, you have to trust the department heads not to go over budget, or to make promises that you can’t deliver. Be sure to review every decision they make before anything is final, hopefully with your production lawyer on hand.

Further Reading:

Considering Skill | Experience

Crew members with great experience or exceptional work on other projects can add value to the production. Remember though, you are assembling a production crew, not forming a bare knuckle boxing league. Crew members need to work hard, but also have a good spirit of camaraderie for the production. But not only do crew members have to work with each other, they also have to work for the director. In fact, the director may have specific people in mind for crew positions, or at least a very specific type of person for each job. Let the director have some insight, at least in choosing the department heads. However, if you’re not directing yourself you also have to trust your director not to just spend your project’s money on friends or fulfill a bunch of favors. Most of all, you don’t want crew members who feel like they are doing the project a favor by showing up, because you simply won’t get good work from them…no matter how many major productions they’ve worked on before your probably lower-scale shoot.

Starting Post-Supervisors and the Editor

Post production might feel like light years away, given all the work you’re doing just to get this damn thing into the production stage. But trust us, it’s not. Especially when production begins, time bends and warps in strange directions. At the very least, hire a post-production supervisor and editor at this stage. Or hire an editor and beg him to also work as the post-production supervisor. And once you’ve locked these positions down, don’t just keep them on retainer. Let them sit down with the director to talk about the overall creative vision. Invite them to attend any essential production meetings so they know how things are supposed to go on set. If the post crew knows your intentions for the project, they will know how to fix it when stuff inevitably backfires on set.

For More on Pre-Production Planning:

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