SHORTS: Crew & Team Member Manifesto

post_thumbThis is my first Manifesto. I hate the idea of a manifesto, but I was really forced to do one. You know why? Because of my team members. Have you ever had the experience that you hired a guy, lets say a PA, an assistant, Gaffer, DP, you name it and they were late, they talked too much or – better yet – they chatted up your client and exchanged business cards? Now, I’m a shy person and I don’t like confrontation. I really have a hard time to tell my team members what is bothering me. So, I needed to come up with a solution: EntreFilmmaker’s Team Member Manifesto.

This episode is really for everyone YOU’ll hire. If you have had the same experience, then this video is for everyone who wants to condition their team to have good behavior from the start of a business relationship. Just send them this video and you are set on set.


[powerpress] I made this video so that I never need to say anything again about what’s bothering me about another crew member. This video is intended for use up front, even before I’ll enter the business relationship. As you can tell, I called this Version 1, because I’m sure you’ll probably share some interesting scenarios that I haven’t come across yet, or that I forgot. Secondly, I’m sure there is always something new so I want to keep it as a Manifesto-in-progress.

What else would you include in this Manifesto? What have I missed?

  • Beans

    Hey Shmuley,

    GREAT video! I will definitely be thinking of these next time I’m on set.

    Just wanted to thank you for the fantastic advice.

    Warm regards


  • I really like the manifesto… Not sure if #9 and #13 sit quite right with me though…

    If you break/delete something absolutely say so immediately. Immediately. I don’t think anyone would reasonably expect compensation ($$$) so to suggest that you offer seems disingenuous. Own your mistake, offer to try to make up for it of course, but the word compensation brings only thoughts of money changing hands and that’s too narrow and not typically how these things are resolved.

    As for the phone. Again, the spirit is right but as a freelancer your livelihood depends on being reachable. As you know, clients have become increasingly impatient and not answering that message can take food off your table. That said, keeping it within reason is the challenge (one the younger and less experienced tend to fail at). I know that when you call me to check my availability for a job, or have a question about an upcoming project we’re doing together, that you probably want an answer sooner than later. If I’m shooting long days back to back to back and I don’t sneak in a few minutes here and there to reply to you, that makes your job harder. When I’m working on set with you, I’ve got to do the same for my other producers and directors. So long as it doesn’t interfere with what’s on the agenda today, I see it as a necessary part of working. I would love to go back to the days of pagers and voicemails of course, where I could have four or five hours to get back to somebody without missing out on an opportunity, but that time has passed sadly.

    That’s just my 2 cents.

    • Thanks so much for the comment. Jordan. To answer your points.

      1. I’m not sure if i communicated it well enough. When a team member breaks something then the attitude should be how to make it right. Wether he needs to pay for it or not is not exactly the question. Just ignoring it would be wrong.

      2. I disagree with you on the phone thing. I’m a very busy and sought after video producer and I check my emails twice a day. Not only that. I communicate with everyone that I do so. Email is not for “urgent”. If it’s urgent then people should call. Now, of course if you are on set to check your email during lunch is not a crime. But truth is once you except that crew members can “check occasionally” they’ll do it all the time. Btw. not just the checking part is a problem. But what happens if you got a really nasty email form someone. You know what will happen? They will be thinking about it for the rest of the day. Now I can throw that crew member in the trash because he won’t have much focus for what I hired him. Again, I pay them for working with me and not for minding their own business. I would consider this stealing. I might be extreme but I haven’t seen a better middle ground.

      • Do you answer your phone on set for emergencies? Just wondering…

        I guess different markets and different roles but I don’t EVER get calls from any Producers under the age of 35… urgent or not. Here in the UK text is the thing, or email. And while email isn’t for ‘urgent’ if I don’t reply to inquiries from new potential clients within about an hour, I almost certainly miss out. Now of course, I’m talking about texting back things like ‘Sounds good. On a shoot. Will reply in detail when I am able.’

        As for “stealing” … the ten minutes I find in the many gaps in a 10 or 12 hour day to briefly answer your calls/texts/emails while I’m on someone else’s payroll are part of the service you expect from me. When I am on your set and keeping my livelihood going, that’s you paying for the support time you had from me leading up to this. It all balances in the end in my view.

        Just to reiterate though, I do agree with the broader point – too often people can get sucked into their phones and lose their focus on the task at hand and that IS a problem. But to say ‘once you allow it at all they will do it all the time’ is a slippery slope argument and a logical fallacy. This is about setting clear boundaries of professional behaviour and I’m afraid we disagree on where that boundary is. If you can’t trust the people you hire to use sound professional judgment about when it is and isn’t appropriate to check their messages, then there may be bigger issues at work.

        In the meantime, to hold your freelancers to a standard that no other Producers respect is to disadvantage them in their work with those who do not have the same rigorous expectations. If they start missing gigs because of this rule, you better have a LOT of work for them or expect them to stop answering your calls 😉

        Oh, it’s time to interview the CEO, gotta go…


  • One of your best Shmuel. Parts of this would make a great promo for your valuable series, this is certainly great material for an online TV school! Having interviewed many young people out of film school, I know this practical advice would take these kids further and is sorely missing in many film and TV courses.

    • David, now you can send them this video. I’m sure it will save them a semester of film school 🙂

  • Shuie Septimus

    checking your phone and emails is unprofessional on every single level. That’s just rediculous.

  • Great stuff, I would personally change the order a bit but you got everything covered. Where’s the PDF?

  • eilfurz

    some points sound a little too compulsive to me (maybe it’s the wine talking. “hello, i’m made of grapes”), on some i agree. e.g. except unless i tell you specifically, i don’t care how you’re dressed on set – unless you’re dressed impractically (flip-flops on a mountain are never a good idea). but i tend to avoid working for clients who care more about the look of the crew than the look of the final product.

    aushaltbar = bearable, oder ?

  • EilFurz = HurryFart thanks for the English translation.

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