You’ve got a script you’re ready to film. Maybe a location and a film date locked, maybe even cast. But who is going to record sound? And run camera? And set up lights?
Finding and hiring crew is daunting. Who do you hire? What do you pay them? Where do you find them?
I’m lucky that I know have a solid mental rolodex of crew people I love working with on projects. I can text and book them on gigs pretty quickly because I’ve built a good reputation of having a great set and following through on my word.
But how did I get this great group??
One. Crew. Person. At. A. Time.
I came into filmmaking from in front of the camera. (That’s right, I used to be “just” an actor)
Because of this I was in a lot of student films and met tons of up and coming crew by working alongside them! I became close friends with some and got hooked into an alumni network of crew.
That’s why I usually say the best place to meet good crew members is ON SET. If you’re not an actor, see if you can PA on other short films in your area. Or be an extra in a friends project. (Finding extras is usually very difficult, if you show up as one the gratitude from the creators and crew will likely manifest in a return favor).
Talk to the people around you. Yes, it’s cheesy, but I ask “What brings you the most joy on set?” with a big smile. Perhaps the PA next to you wants to DP and is willing to work on your project for a reduced rate to build her reel footage. Bingo!
Film networking events are also a good way to meet crew members. Show up, ask questions, get business cards.
You’ll build out your network slowly. Once you hire one person, they can likely recommend the next crew member to hire and so on down the line.
But how do you hire them? Just by asking!
“Hey Logan, I’ve got a short script I’m filming at the end of the month and I’d love to have you run sound for it. It’s a one day shoot and we’ve got $300 for the day. Does that work for you? If so, I’ll send over the script later. Thanks!”
Be upfront with what you are paying (or if you are NOT paying) and negotiate only if you love the crew member or can come up with the money. Otherwise it’s totally ok to respond: “Sorry Logan, I’ve only got the $300, but I hope we can work on something else together soon!”
Hopefully though they say yes! It’s always ok to follow up with “Awesome, looking forward to it. I’m still filling out the rest of the crew. Do you happen to know any good production designers?”
They might not, but you won’t know unless you ask!
Hiring your first crew member can feel a little intimidating--but remember--everyone wants to be working on a project and you are offering a cool opportunity! So don’t be afraid to ask people to work with you.