10 Verbs for Leading a Healthy Film Production

1. Inspire. Arouse in your crew an eager want. Remind them that they’re not at a desk. They have the best job in the world. Make them happy about doing what you suggest.

2. Anticipate. Production is like doing a jigsaw puzzle on a waterbed – plan for the worst. Identify at least five things that could go wrong during each scene and plan for them. No shoot is impregnable.

3. Name. A person’s name is the sweetest sound to them in the world. Know everyone’s name. Say it to him or her often and always embed it in every request.

4. Smile. From the bottom of your heart. It’s contagious. A happy set is an efficient set.

5. Listen. Let each person do the talking. Collect as much information as possible. Know everything.

6. Forgive. Never criticize, condemn or complain. If someone made a mistake, he or she already knows and should not have to hear it again. If he or she doesn’t know or makes the mistake a second time, call attention to it indirectly.

7. Assure. Encourage crew by making every fault or mishap seem easy to correct. Be confident. If you are not confident, be confident about not being confident. Get people to feel confident about you.

8. Request. Ask questions instead of directly giving orders. Let the other person feel like the idea is his or hers. Nobody likes being told what to do. And nobody likes being yelled at. Do you?

9. Pacify. Avoid arguments. Never tell someone he or she is wrong. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically. If you cannot avoid an argument (or cannot resolve other people’s arguments), do not let the crew see it – move ugly out of the way.

10. Praise. Make each person feel important and necessary. Reward good work with honest and sincere appreciation. Acknowledge what each person is doing right. Commend every improvement.

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