Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996
Abusive Behaviour Of Some Crew Members, & How To Deal With It!
class="Paragraph" I would like to ask this question very sincerely of my fellow subscribers of CML.
It seems, as I get older and more experienced in the buisiness of shooting films (as a DP) for various directors that I find myself in the position of having been hired on a project with a director that I had no idea, until the first day of photography that he/she is a very difficult person to work with.
I recall, a situation with a commercial director (no names will be mentioned) where, in the heat and pressure of location shooting, the directors' own frustration ended up in his physically 'kicking' a first assistant for being slow. Perhaps this example is extreme. My own response was to want to leave the set, to organise anyone in the camera department to leave with me. But, in the silence that ensued, my shock at the novelty of the event and the complicit silence of the rest of the crew in the moment, tended to disarm my impulse. Much later, and to this day I have grave doubts about my lack of action.
And now, I again and again find myself in the midst of film sets where a directore or First AD or, whomever will be somewhat abusive to the crew. How do we define abuse? This is not a term to be used lightly. I think it is when a director or someone 'above' the camera crew publically humiliates an individual on the set. Personally, it is also when, unduly (i.e. the entire crew is on task, working hard to get the job done), folks are being rushed and pressured, goaded, bullied into performing faster than can humanly be expected. I realize as I write that I am having a hard time putting into word what abuse is, what too much stress is and what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in the workplace. I know we as technicians are paid quite well and, secretly maybe we know this and therefore remain silent when we find ourselves, even for long periods of time with someone or some situation that is simply stressing us out the the end.
class="Paragraph">The thing I would like to open up to discussion somehow is :
class="Paragraph">How do we identify what is fair and unfair to be treated like in the workplace and :
class="Paragraph">How do we make some kind of motion to set a limit, to those around us as to what is fair and what is not???
class="Paragraph">Its very difficult. I think what's on most people's minds in that sort of a situation is 'I am a freelance, and this arse-hole might want to hire me again, so I'll put up with the shit.' It shouldn't be that way. That's what unions are for, but as we in the UK have no union worth the name, its incumbent upon all of us, particularly highly paid DP's on high end jobs, to nip that crap in the bud. I don't work in commercials, I work mostly in documentaries and I've been lucky in that I've never seen an incident such the one you described, so I've not had to make that kind of a decision, but I think you should speak up. The abusive characters who appear from time to time are allowed to get away with it time and again because no one calls them to account. It might be that all it needs is a quiet friendly word at an opportune moment letting them know that that sort of behaviour is unacceptable. It's probably a good idea to do it in private so that the a-h in question doesn't lose face in front of the crew. But I'd say you have to do it. The DP is the top crew man, so has the responsibility.
class="Paragraph">My two cents,
class="Paragraph">This is an excellent issue to tackle among this group. Despite the unique circumstances of film production, this kind of situation can best be handled by simply applying good people management practices. I don't have a tremendous amount of experience as a DP, but I do have many years of management experience from large corporations to small startups. I've also worked on numerous productions as a producer, a director, a DP, or a Steadicam operator. Most of the stuff I've worked on is very low budget, so the dynamics may be different. But since the money is nothing to get excited about, keeping everyone on the set happy is always an important consideration. Here's how I would look at this situation:
class="Paragraph">The specific definition of what is and isn't fair can be difficult. I suspect that different baselines may apply based on the makeup of the crew, the specific atmosphere of the production on that particular day, and the personal styles of the individuals involved. I think most individuals who have demonstrated the knowledge, judgement and management skills to be able to work as a DP have a pretty good idea of what is reasonable and what is not.
class="Paragraph">Based on your description (and the fact that it concerned you enough to post your message) the specific incident in question clearly crosses the line of what's fair and acceptable behavior. No one should be subjected to such treatment, and the net result is detrimental to the entire production.
class="Paragraph">So how does a DP take action in such as situation? If the DP has an established relationship with the director, the issue should be addressed directly with the director, in private away from anyone in the cast or crew, and as quickly as possible. (This would also be the right approach if the director was responsible for getting you the work on the project.) A good director (or a good friend) should always be open and receptive to this kind of feedback. Odds are that the director doesn't want to engage in behavior that offends the crew, creates tension, and generally upsets the smooth operation of the set. It's likely that he/she just got a bit too riled up over something and suffered a momentary lapse of judgement. Given that the director acknowledges that the action was inappropriate, and that as DP, you're reasonably confident the behavior will be curtailed, it would then be appropriate to take personal ownership to talk to the member of the camera crew and express the appropriate apologies or do whatever else might be appropriate to defuse the situation and get things back to normal.
class="Paragraph">It's also appropriate to consider the victim's circumstance. Was he/she an innocent victim -- simply the closest ass when the boot started swinging? Or, might it also be appropriate to talk with this individual about their behavior and work style to help them be a more effective member of the crew?
class="Paragraph">Now, if the director blows you off, that's a more serious problem, and really starts to deal with your personal relationship with that director. However it is handled should probably be based on that relationship and how you would like it to evolve in the future. Is the director just having a really bad day and you should cut him/her some slack and help them get through the tough time? Or is this person really a jerk and you should seriously reconsider the value of your current relationship? Or the most difficult question: is this director your meal ticket to lots of good work, so regardless of how much of a jerk he/she is, you'll put up with it and do your best to maintain the relationship? In this last case, your actions most likely need to be the same as if the director is your best friend -- you need to do your best to help the director cope and be successful, and you must also do your best to defuse the problems created, and defend the director's position as the boss on the set.
class="Paragraph">Even if you have never worked with this director prior to this job, it's still appropriate to take the initiative to talk with the director, address your concerns and help find a resolution that helps everyone and the production.
class="Paragraph">If it's impossible to solve anything by dealing with the director, and there is no relationship that it is that important to establish or repair, it's time to escalate. In most productions, the boss is the producer. The director, although in a position of importance, is just another employee. If the shit hits the fan in any way (production is stopped or delayed, lawsuits ensue, etc.), the producer is the one that has the largest financial and legal exposure. Therefore, any decent producer (oxymoron?) should be concerned about maintaining a smooth, productive and safe production. So raise the issue with the producer. Make your concerns very clear. Also, make it clear that you're prepared to assist in any way to help find a resolution to the problem. Let the producer deal with the director.
class="Paragraph">If everyone outside of your crew is a total jerk, then there's likely a bigger problem. What if this had been an issue of safety rather than the dignity of a crew member? All the same management practices apply? How would you deal with it if the director was knowingly demanding actions that endangered crew members? In most cases, if you don't take actions to fix problems like this, they just continue to get worse. When the "jerk quotient" gets too high, it may be time to walk.
class="Paragraph">All of this is usually driven by one final maxim: The difficulty of the decision is inversely proportional to the balance of your checking account.
American Interactive Pictures
class="Paragraph" Yes, one should
never underestimate the value of "F.U." money...
Abusive situations like the description given have unfortunately been around maybe since the first movie. I cetainly have seen it almost yearly since I was first on a movie set. That is 30 years.
I always have put the situation down to several things.
1. Pressure. The mind of the Director being involved with the subject beyond his capabilities OR so involved he was IN the picture and not with the crew. or reality.
2. Had a bad case of superiority.
3. The person having joined the biz for the money, the kudos, and the ease with which one can impress the front office to get the job. Thinks its the way to behave.
When we are all too embarrased to say anything;it becomes the norm for that person. It also goes with other grades as well.
Recently, I had a situation in which a very large production employed a loader to work with a 435. They ordered no extra mags and had 3 different stocks. The guy had only used a 400 mag twice before, BUT was said to be a good guy. NOT a trained guy.
The result was mag after mag jammed , the camera wrecked and abuse of our staff over the phone. We supplied more mags more kit and lots of advice over the phone. Finally the guy blew and shouted across the set at a driver delivering the fifth time since 08;30 the most abusive stream of invectives that anyone on the set had ever heard. IT was directed at everybody and the equipment and the company. When the driver returned and told the desk manager of the day, he followed the company proceedure and called the producer. He was totally unabashed and called for more kit still standing by his choice of loader. The result of all this is that the company has a large insurance claim against the commercial maker.
The Focus just said not a thing.The DoP ditto. The grips kept out of his way, but we got the full low down next day.
We will not work with the company again, ever and ALL because a member of crew would not admit he did not know, did not ever get any training but learnt on the jobs and still was paid.
The Hirer still thinks he is a good tech. But we know his real personality is not the jokie keep em laughing and they wont notice idiot that the crew worked with that day.
BUT a cynical person who knows that the first thing to do when in the s**t is to blame the kit loudly and often. WHY, because it cannot answer back and the front office dont know any different.
Maybe this is slightly off topic but it certainly is part of "abuse" the rental companies suffer weekly.
class="Paragraph">Whilst I agree with this in general it has to be borne in mind that the DP has a living to make as well.
class="Paragraph">Standing up for my crew nearly 2 years ago cost me the next years work with that company and a much reduced amount of work since then. As they spent around $50,000 with me in the year before the incident standing up for my crew turned out to be very expensive.
class="Paragraph">It was made very clear to me that this was going to happen
class="Paragraph" I've luckily been able to retaliate and arrange to have their star director poached by another company since then.
class="Paragraph">It seems to me that no matter how many times the more established DP's "put their foot down," there's going to be some kid right out of film school who's willing to work under those same conditions without breathing a single complaint, and that same a** hole director will probably be willing to hire them. Maybe Geoff's experience is a pretty good example of what can happen to anybody. It seems to me that you just have to take the good with the bad, and pick your projects as best you can.
class="Paragraph">I've worked with a lot of assistants (...one of them lurks here...) who would REALLY have a problem with that. To the point where, I would think, a somewhat vehement response would be the least of the director's problems.
class="Paragraph">I'm a pretty relaxed person, but I'll walk away from a job before I'll watch anyone physically assault my crew. THAT is definitely crossing a line and, frankly, I'm suprised to hear of it happening WITHOUT a physical retort.
class="Paragraph">We all need to be secure enough in our abilities to KNOW we can walk if we are ill treated.
class="Paragraph">An assistant who doesn't strike back after being kicked is REALLY being nice to his boss, the DP. If the DP doesn't set things straight...
class="Paragraph">I know what MY reaction to being kicked in the butt would be.
class="Paragraph">I must say
that I feel this is a most interesting thread. We're really looking
at the dynamics of a very difficult work enviroment and it's helpful
to hear different points of view on a situation we've all been subject
to at one time or another. Of course, no one should have to work in
an abusive situation. But sometimes it's worth the special attention
such abusive individuals require if the work proves to be worth it.
The pay check certainly figures but as a grip friend of mine says "I
made a living before I met this individual and I'll probably make
one after." IMHO the only criteria for how much abuse you're
willing to subject you and your crew to is the quality of the finished
product and how much or how little
that means to you and the crew.
this made me chuckle. I worked as a gaffer for 15 years with some wonderful
and talented DP's from whom I've learned a ton. But I can't
say that most had a good idea of what was reasonable and what was not.
Certainly the best ones and most experienced but not the most:-)>
class="Paragraph">I think the rule of thumb is that if it feels like abuse, it probably is. I don't think most people will use this term lightly - the price is too high for being wrong, especially in the workplace.
class="Paragraph">Another rule of thumb is that abusive situations tend to get worse over time, not better. If what you experience today is barely acceptable, chances are by tomorrow the situation will be totally unacceptable plus you will feel even more powerless to get them to change.
action against abuse carries certain risks. In business, you can lose
your job and be unable to find another one.
Only you can weigh the risks to decide whether what you have to put up with is worth the paycheck you are receiving. You also need to factor in how long you will be putting up with the abuse. Most people can handle extremely stressful situations for short periods of time.
class="Paragraph">If you do decide that the paycheck is worth the risk of further abuse, I suggest you find someone you can lean on for support because you'll most likely need it - being abused is very stressful, and will increase your risk of alcohol or drug abuse, injury, suicide or "going postal".
"the former social worker" Gallant
class="Paragraph">On the subject of ethics . . . I'd like to recount a story when I was an assistant cameraman working with Conrad Hall, he actually turned down a project because the producer tried to offer his gaffer and I less money than our day rates. Goes to show you that greatness can't always be measured with a light meter.
I thought your response was rather thoughtful re : risk of abuse, injury etc.
In the original posting, I used an example ('my first AC getting kicked . . . '), that was rather extreme. What seems to occour so much is that feature films are so often helmed by first timers. I find myself on a project with neophyte directors that don't understand the rigours of standard film productiuon. This seems to be endemic of 2 to 3 million dollar pictures. They are often imapatient with the process. How often I find myself on a set trying to concentrate, lighting a shot with a young punk screeming "WHY CAN'T WE SHOOT RIGHT NOW!!! At such moments I find myself asking: In what jobs are people routinely asked to endure higher-ups hounding them to move faster. A good friend of mine says, "What, are you kidding? Have you ever worked at McDonalds?!" There's a wonderful quote by Sidney Lumet in his autobiograhy "MAKING MOVIES" (I sugest anyone should read it) where he says the average ratio of time spent lighting a set, to time spent filming the scene on a set is often one and a half hours (lighting) to, two and half or three hours (filming). I am keenly interested in his ratio because I always want to know: am I fast or am I slow as a DP? So far I've always been well inside this ratio. So, when we get a director who is a screamer. What do we do???
Am I too thin-skinned?
class="Paragraph">It is a tough call, indeed. One is also faced with the reality that while the crew may rally around the "spokesman" who speaks out against an excessively capricious and/or abusive dirctor, AD, producer, or whatever... that spokesman may well be branded for being "difficult" in subsequent conversations at which he/she is not present to defend him/herself and "difficult" can be a very dangerous appellation with which to be branded. Here in the US where the unions are quite strong in some jurisdictions I find no solace in their presence...they may "back you up" if it comes to litigation or a hearing...but they won't get you new clients to replace the ones that have heard that it is YOU who is a troublemaker.
class="Paragraph">"They" have the jobs and the money to dispense at their pleasure.
class="Paragraph">In a not totally dissimilar situation, I once shut down a location for safety reasons. We were filming with a laser that could cause immediate eye damage to anyone who was looking at his hand when the beam hit it...that is to say the energy impinging on an observer's retina from the beam reflecting off flesh was dangerous. We had cameras and actors moving in a room with twenty or so bounces of a single beanm off of mirrors that were stuck to things with gaffers tape, hot glue, and moretite. I knew that protective goggles with "notch filters" that would block the specific spectra of specific laser types were readily available and I suggested that production call three or four of the universities in New York whose Physics departments might have them to "borrow" to make it through the day. My union backed me up as to the need for protection for the camera, grip, electric, and sound departments (no one cared about the actors apparently) and the UPM claimed to be thankful that I had discovered both a serious safety issue and could suggest solutions. They did get some goggles from the schools around town and only lost an hour or so... the DP was angry with me for slowing down HIS picture (I was trying to protect HIS eyes) and I was branded as a "union hard case" by the producer.
Most of the crew has gone on to do big shows or good shows...and occasionally both.
No one lost the use of a portion of their field of vision.
I lost two clients.
if they don't get it...this is the best business in the world to
be in ...but it is just a job, and it is not worth getting hurt for...physically
Do the right thing...but don't expect rewards in THIS world for doing it.
class="Paragraph">Mark "not in the least bit bitter" Weingartner
class="Paragraph" >How often I find myself on a set trying to concentrate, lighting a shot with a young >punk screeming "WHY CAN'T WE SHOOT RIGHT NOW!!!
class="Paragraph" That one phrase can boil my blood quicker than just about anything.
I was working with a primadonna actor on a commercial a few weeks ago, and he kept giving me that line. He was one of those guys who'd never worked on a commercial being shot on film, and he kept asking why we couldn't just shoot on video. I tried to explain it to him, but he wasn't very receptive. The guy was a total jerk. He is definitely on my black list!
class="Paragraph" There is a certain amount of abuse that goes on everywhere. I'm not condoning it, but it is part of our daily encounters.
Sad but this is true, From crew members abusing the craft service ( always at the table eating), to higher ups yelling at the crew. Sometimes a director or producer (or anyone) loses the ability to communicate and becomes verbally abusive to the person they are trying to communicate with. Tempers flare and Pressures real, or imagined, cause the blood to run hotter, and hotter.
There are some people whom I find abusive to work with, usually they are inexperienced and unable to communicate what they want. After a while, feeling really unhappy during the day overides any benefit I get from shooting, and I cease to work with that person.
With some people that is just their style, they are screamers, that is just how they are. Some people are abusive in other ways, constant unwarranted complaining and denegration are just as bad forms of abuse. If I work with someone like that, I just raise my rate.
Screaming is sadly part of what happens, I agree that usually it is a sign of inexperience. However I think that once physical contact is made, doesn't that move from the realm of abuse to assault?
class="Paragraph">My first years in Los Angeles were spent working as a production assistant for PYTKA. I was always amazed that there was never a shortage of crew willing to take the abuse in exchange for the great money of shooting 200 days a year.
class="Paragraph">Even sicker was the steady line of ad agency personel who, knowing of Pytka's reputation, would purposely light a fire under Joe so that they could have a story to tell back home.
class="Paragraph">I managed to avoid the direct line of abuse and justified my tenure as a great education.
class="Paragraph">In my opinion the greatest amount of abuse which occurs in the business is the use of production assistants. Producers will put PA's into crew positions for which they have little training (loading film or driving a 5 ton) and subject them to brutal hours and conditions for a flat rate all under the guise of getting your foot in the door. Crew members gladly participate in the abuse as a ritual due paying process. Especially in commercial production where producers are regularly hired for their past experiences as travel agents, or for their good looks.
class="Paragraph">I don't see the abuse which occurs ever changing. The manner in which entry level positions are filled- the lack of union sponsored training programs etc..., and the nature of this glamorous business produces the conditions which make abuse a normal and accepted aspect of the business.
class="Paragraph">Lets face it- the process; 14 hour days, six day weeks, and long location shoots leaves little chance for a balanced and normal life. Most if not all of the people I have worked with are mentally ill to some extent. Either they are compensating for not having a life by joining the circus of a long location shoot or are unhappy because whatever life they have established is seriously compromised by the nature of this work. A vicious cycle.....
class="Paragraph">Yup. This is what we call an "Asshole Surcharge". Vendor companies do it, too.
class="Paragraph" A friend of
mine used to run a post facility, and actually itemized it on the billing,
"A.S. 5%" One time, after a job was over, one of the screamer
types called to ask, "What the F*** is this A.S. 5%?" The
bill had been paid, so my friend gave him the true explanation.
The guy went
through the roof. "What the F***!!! Whaddaya mean only five F***ing
percent! For all the S**t I dumped on you?? It shoulda been more like
says it's a true story.
though, these abusive types fall into three categories :
Some of them are just big, stormy, expressive personalities.
They yell and scream for a while, and then it all blows over. You can
work with them once you get used to their dynamic range. In fact, I've
been told that it can be easier than working with a quiet, subtle sort
of person, such as myself.
The second kind are like the first, but they don't really know it.
I know one director who has exquisite sensitivity and subtlety in working
with actors and getting the fine nuances in a performance, yet has no
idea at all, even after forty years, how she comes across to others.
It's a really bizzare blind spot, to be so sensitive to every human
interaction except your own. Still, there can be a salvageable working
Finally, there are those who are downright evil and potentially dangerous.
The guy who kicked the assistant might fall into that category, especially
if there weren't any prior indications of anger or frustration.
If there are, you can take the guy aside and get him to talk about what's
eating at him. If not, or if that doesn't help, it's time to
pull the plug. If enough good people are hesitant to work with the guy
again, eventually the pattern will appear in the minds of the producers
who hire him -- or don't.
class="Paragraph">Actually there is an additional type
class="Paragraph">4. Screamer . . . the incompetent insecure type who screams and faults others to mask his/her short comings. This person usually needs to shoot other people down to boost their own ego. Does this sound grotesquely familiar? -Mark Simon
class="Paragraph">Reminds of the story about the director who yelled at a key grip for doing his job. The director told the grip not to do anything unless he told him to do it. Big mistake!
working as an electrician on a TV movie with Lucille Ball as a bag lady
I witnessed a very heated discussion between the gaffer and the key
grip. As they went their two different ways, the key grip said or rather
spat the following at me, "Mate, if you really want to f**k somebody,
just do exactly what they tell you!"
I was the beneficiary of this pearl of wisdom by virtue of proximity...but they certainly ring true in this game.
class="Paragraph">While I agree with you, it IS conjecture that THAT incident led to a loss of clients. You just can't KNOW that.
class="Paragraph">Similarly, in Geoff's case, he can not know FOR SURE he would have gotten the same amount of (future) business from the client he peeved.
class="Paragraph">There are LOTS of reasons people change collaborations. Anyone agonizing over operational decisions that are technically and morally sound is setting themselves up for an unhealthy situation. Hey, this can be a stressful business. All we can do is be honest, smart and safe.
class="Paragraph">Anyone not happy with safety issues - or personal ones - is free to leave or stand up and fight. Sometimes it becomes a group thing - sometimes it gets personal.
class="Paragraph">C'est la vie,
class="Paragraph" Seems like what I went through so far. The first DP I worked with as a loader was a real diva. He let his anger about whatever was going wrong go right to the first assistant and consequently to me. On the one hand I did not care for it was not me making him mad. On the other hand I often felt treated unfair. I stood up to that DP once, because I could not take it anymore and surprise: He appologized and promised not to do it again. Of course he did, but I was sure he was not doing it deliberately, so I just did not care anymore. I now know it's a great education working with somebody who has a "difficult" personality, because after that, things can only get better.
I don't care anymore for people treating me like crap just because I'm the loader and they are the producer or some other big-shot. They just have a personal problem and are unsatisfied with the world and themselves.
People who know they are good in what they are doing usually never have that kind of minority complex.
So I rather listen to the calm and friendly people, since I know when they tell me something, I can take it for granted.
I believe if people are happy, they get the job done better (and probably faster, too). And mostly, if you are nice yourself, people will treat you nicely. So that's the way I treat everybody: Just the same as I want to be treated by them. (In German: Wie man in den Wald hineinruft, so schallt es heraus)
class="Paragraph" Matthias A.
class="Paragraph" An excellent, very easy going co-worker of mine was called to work one day in the middle of a long, big budget feature. Not long after he got his equipment set up,(I think he was going for a cup of coffee) he happened to cross paths with the very big director/star of the picture. She proceeded to ream him out, screaming about his incompetence and other shortcomings. This went on for awhile until finally someone was able to pull her away and tell her that he was the wrong man.
class="Paragraph">Actually, you can divide all of humanity into just three categories:
class="Paragraph" Those who
can count and those who can't.
class="Paragraph" >1. Some of them are just big, stormy, expressive personalities. They yell and scream >for a while, and then it all blows over.
class="Paragraph">This is so true. I used to work with a director who always laid into one or two people on the set. However, I got used to his "dynamic range". We became good friends and I socialized quite a bit with him too. But I always said to myself if he ever turns on me that is end of our relationship.
class="Paragraph">Years later he did turn on me. When he phoned afterwards to "talk" my silence told him that the damage had been done. I haven't worked with him since. Oh, he's also been hounded out of the theatre and film.
class="Paragraph">Being a resourceful man he has set up a theatre/film school. He invited me to become his Technical Manager recently. I've had two bad years in a row and was tempted to take the offer. But when I saw his school, very impressive, he had a meeting with some students whose production wasn't going too well. And sure enough he laid into one of them! I thought some people never learn. Needless to say I turned down his offer as I no longer want to be surrounded by such behavior.
class="Paragraph" The odd thing
is when he is not "under pressure" he is one of the most gentlemanly
people you'll meet with a heart that is HUGE.
do we define abuse? This is not a term to be used lightly.
>I think the rule of thumb is that if it feels like abuse, it probably is. I don't think most >people will use this term lightly - the price is too high for being wrong, especially in >the workplace.
class="Paragraph">I very much like this definition Jessica. However in practice it is almost impossible to give a rule of thumb.
class="Paragraph">For instance :- One of my favorite clapper loaders had an "interesting" experience on the first film she did as a clapper loader. It was a low budget feature film (and a freebee at that) while they were checking out the equipment she thought that the focus puller seemed a little distant to the point that he appeared to be ignoreing her. While she was in the darkroom she heard him (the focus puller) and someone from the rental house talking outside. Apparently he hated working with "stupid cows". Now I can imagine (I didn't know her at the time) but I cannot imagine that she was technically incompetant (she had been a camera trainee for a while) and now has masses of enthusiasm for the job (which I can't imagine she didn't have then) she also smiles alot and works very hard. Just the sort of person you want to work with for four weeks on a freebee. So how after meeting her for only an hour could he have decided that she was a "Stupid cow". Basically he hated working with women. He didn't speak to her for the entire shoot except in monosylables. He did however manage to get a good moan in to all and sundry when she went off to get anything(although notably not the DP). She lived with this for four weeks tried to keep happy worked hard, smiled and tried to learn as much as she could. After four weeks (having not been paid a penny) they wrapped the final day. She said goodbye and went to shake his hand he said nothing and without shaking her hand walked away.
class="Paragraph">Now this story made me really mad I don't know this moron (the focuspuller) but I do know and work with her.
class="Paragraph">I am pretty sure.
class="Paragraph">1. She did not exagerate the situation (she is never nasty about anyone when she told me this she said the only thing that upset her was that he wouldn't shake her hand after the job was over.)
class="Paragraph">2. She is not an oversensitive feminist (she once described her feelings about being accidently locked in a room with mad dog for an hour as "safe")
class="Paragraph">The question that arrises is "was this abuse?" the answer is of course it was .. and it was sexist and it makes me sick when I think about it. BUT if I were to play the devils advocate. What did the guy do? Nothing ... he slagged her off to the rest of the crew .. but he would say that was justified. Continuing in my role as devils advocate I could say that it was up to her to do something about the situation. What could she have done ?
class="Paragraph">She could have right at the beginning of the shoot had it out with him. Did he have a problem with the fact she was a woman? Would he like to use another loader ? Then tell the production manager (a woman) that she had been sacked because of her sex.
class="Paragraph">She could have had a word with the DP about the situation and seen if he could resolve it.
class="Paragraph">Or she could have done what she did. Which was to lean on her boyfriend heavily for support and try to keep outwardly happy and be the best clapper loader she could be in the circumstances. She also had a really big laugh about how small his dick must be.
class="Paragraph">She went for the third option. Why ? because she believed (I think wrongly) that if she made a complaint she would be sacked and because she believed that if she could get through this situation then she would never have it so bad again.
class="Paragraph">According to gossip the moron of the piece never got any "Paid" work and left the film industry shortly afterwards.
class="Paragraph">The question is by her inaction did she "bring this upon herself"?
class="Paragraph" >I realize...I am having a hard time putting into words what abuse is, what too much >stress is and what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in the workplace.
class="Paragraph" As Jessica said (in the bit I have just deleted) time is the thing here. I know a pop video director who is a so nasty it's frightening. A really abusive screaming shouting nutcase UNTILL .. we have the master closeup in the can. Once that is done he is calm and collected and reasonable and does some great work. Because we all know this the production always try and get the artist in at 9am and that is always the first shot of the day.
After that he is as happy as Larry. This does not stop me putting up my rate to cover it.
class="Paragraph" >If you do decide that the paycheck is worth the risk of further abuse, I suggest you >find someone you can lean on for support because you'll most likely need it...
class="Paragraph" That is why if anyone is going to go "loco" in such a situation it will be the clapper loader. If the DP is being abused by the director he should always be able to rely on the focus puller for support (and his gaffer).
If the focus puller gets a hard time from the DP then he can rely on the clapper loader. Who does the clapper loader get support from ? Answer no
class="Paragraph" Also the person who is giving the support needs to use tact. Sometimes the person who needs support will take it out on the nearest person to them (ie the focus puller or the gaffer). It is a natural reaction to "make the shit role downwards". If the camera crew have some history together this makes it easier you simply take the DP aside at lunch and talk about it. I usually let that person know that I think the shit rolling downwards to me because the DP is himself in an abusive situation. Given that we have a history I let them know that I am quite happy to act as a human sponge if it will help the DP. Whatever happens this mustn't become confrontational because the last thing the DP needs at that point is the shit rolling at him from two directions. That way you can show the person who is being abused that you can see it happening and you support them.
Ordinarily I am a great supporter of a ten or fifteen minuete walk after lunch with the rest of the camera department if I think the dp's getting stressed by the job I usually invite him to join us if only because it's a good excuse to get them away from the director for a little while without apearing rude. The only downside of being a "human sponge" is that the director might feel that it's you who is the source of his "problem" and have you fired. It's never happened to me but to be honest it wouldn't worry me so much (for myself) simply because I would know that the DP hadn't fired me even if he hadn't sprung to my defence. I think those sorts of things can only cement a bond between crew.
class="Paragraph">Justin "the other former social worker" Pentecost